Miss Marjorie Fay

 

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When  I struggle with phrasing, expressing my thoughts, or finding the right word, I call on Miss Marjorie Fay.

Miss Fay was my senior high school English teacher. She was the very picture of the old maid school teacher with her floral cotton dresses, proper shoes and white hair.

Miss Fay was not hip. She was not our friend.  Yet, we “college prep” seniors loved her and enjoyed her classes. We never smirked or rolled our eyes when she acted out scenes or was overly dramatic to make a point.  We laughed out loud.  We had fun.  We knew we were in caring hands as she prepared us for the larger world.

She pushed us to write better and to think more clearly. I remember endless admonitions to use “concrete details” in our descriptions.

 

Books, Plays,Poems

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She made us memorize long poems and recite them before the class.

At the time I hated it. Now I thank her as I spontaneously recall a few lines of a poem or a play.

Remembering particular lines from literature enriches the moment for me as I contemplate a beautiful scene, return from a trip, or reunite with a long-lost friend. It often signals a secret shorthand with someone, even a stranger, who can relate to that poem, play or novel.

I often say to myself “This is my own, my native land” when my plane lands in the USA.

Or, “never send to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee” as we face another tragedy in our violent world.

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The Bard

We loved her dramatic readings especially from Shakespeare.

Our favorite was the banquet scene in Macbeth when the ghost of Banquo appears. She would shake her white hair, stare over our heads with the words, “Thou canst not say I did it: never shake Thy gory locks at me.”

Banquo scene from Macbeth

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Farewell Miss Fay

I recall her last time with us.  It was graduation.

We were lined up sweltering in our caps and gowns.  She floated into the hallway cooing at her chosen few.

Her signature floral dress was silk and her Sunday shoes were spotless. I was amazed to see her wearing a large brimmed hat.

Her outfit, especially the hat, reassured us that our graduation was special and that we too were special.

Her appearance and her behavior were somehow giddy and girlish.  For the first time and for a brief moment, I considered her as a person with a life outside the classroom.

I never knew her real last name, her age, her marital status.

I never saw her again after graduation.

I remember her as a wonderful teacher to whom I am indebted.

Thank you Miss Marjorie Fay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “Miss Marjorie Fay

  1. I had a Norton Anthology of … English Literature?? It had works of Milton, Spenser, Charles Lamb, and many others. I tossed it out not so long ago because I had written the name of my first husband on the edge of the pages. Knowing how much I loved that book says something about tossing it out. But I have a couple of other books, very similar without all the young adult foolishness branded on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How wonderful that you acknowledge this influential teacher with heartfelt tribute. Miss Marjorie Fay sounds like the mentor we all want in our lives, maybe the person we want to be. She shared her passion and you accepted, and I suspect you were both the better for it.
    I’m going to think about this all day, all week: how to be a positive force for others. Thank you, Lori.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post. It brought back memories of my own Miss Fay. In addition to nurturing my love of literature, she was the first glimpse I had of someone who wasn’t afraid to “not fit in”. She was a unique soul and she owned it, long before it was cool for a woman to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is wonderful to remember these special people who had such impact on us when we were young. I like that your teacher did not fit in and was OK with that. That’s a powerful role model.
      Have a happy weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Edith Piaf!! I would have been enchanted by your teacher. I remember various French teachers over the years. All had a “je ne sais quoi pas” that seemed so vital to me as a young and impressionable student. What a luxury to be able to study full-time! Happy Sunday from Portland!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish every child experienced learning with a teacher like Miss Marjorie Fay. I had one. She too was an English teacher/librarian who fostered in us a passion for literature. Much later in life I encountered mature students preparing for university who had experienced the very opposite and were so damaged they were in danger of not reaching their full potential.
    I have enjoyed reading your posts Lori. Thanks for visiting mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lori, I often wonder what most of my students thought of their “Old Maid” English teacher. A few have remained in contact and they tell me I was very daunting to them at the time. My husband says the same thing. (We both began teaching at the same school when we were in our 20’s but went our separate ways and met up again 25 years later)
    And here I was thinking I was a cute little bundle of energy and all the while, I was scaring the crap out of kids and faculty.
    I truly think I would have enjoyed being in class with you and Miss Marjorie Fay. You paint a lovely picture of her. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

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