Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Monday, October 1, 2012

Turning the (Times) Tables

Me: Bottom right. My Nemesis: Top Left. Argh! 

I tried.
I really did.
I just wasn't . . . quite . . . good enough.
Maybe I should explain.
Our grade five teacher, Mrs. Herbst, she of the blue hair, was a stickler for math.
And math facts.
Actually, she was a stickler for most school work, but especially for anything to do with numbers.
She devised many and various methods for teaching said facts.
Exercises.
Tests.
Quizzes. (Not to be confused with tests. Quizzes were shorter in length and carried less weight. Just FYI.)
Games . . .
And this is where our story starts . . .
Our class sat in desks in several long rows.
Mrs. Herbst would call the names of the front students in the two outside rows.
“Kathy and Margaret, please pay attention.”
Actually, I must confess that I don't know if those two girls were ever actually pitted against each other in Mrs. Herbst's devious little exercise, but they were two of the smartest girls in the class and I thought this sounded good.
Moving on . . .
The girls would take a deep breath and sit up, ready for what was coming.
“Seven times six!” Mrs. Herbst would bark out crisply.
“Forty-two!” Both girls would shout out together, nearly in unison.
The teacher would nod and smile.
And call out the names of the students seated just behind the first two.
“Five times nine!”
“Forty-Five!”
Slowly, she would work her way around the room.
Getting closer and closer to me.
And Kenny.
“Six times eight!”
“Forty-eight!”
“Four times nine!”
“Thirty-six!”
“Five times six!”
“Thirty!”
Finally, she would be looking at the students seated directly in front of her in the two center rows.
One of whom was almost purple with anticipation.
Okay, I'm sure it's no surprise that it was me.
And that the other was Kenny.
Mrs. Herbst would inhale.
My heart would stop.
“Nine times nine!”
“Eighty one!” Kenny would say, softly, before she had even finished the last word.
And just as I was drawing a breath, ready to shout.
“Rats!” I would say.
I knew the answer! I did!
That rotten Kenny beat me again!
I would sit back in my chair and glare at the tall young man seated just opposite.
Next time, Kenny. Next time.
I don't think I ever did beat him.
Though I never stopped trying.

P.S. My Husby just read this and says he still loves me, even though I could never quite prove that I actually knew my times tables.
Turkey.

19 comments:

  1. Ah yes, that kid in class that somehow always beats you to the punch. For me it was Colby. He was a "Wa" last name and I was a "Wi" so he always sat in front of me. And he was freaking brilliant (actually, still is, I recently caught up with him on Facebook). You know the type: had a 5.0 grade point average (although I could swear it was only a 4.0 system), could immediately identify any and all pieces of music after four bars (classical through rap and everything in between), wrote a book the summer between our junior and senior years . . . I stopped cataloguing his good points after that as this fact hung over me the whole summer that year - totally my fault; I did, after all, ask him what his plans were for the summer. And, if all that weren't enough, he was also a great friend! Yes, I feel your pain. On the plus side, those kids push us and give us a great excuse all in the same package. Can't ask for anymore than that, I guess. Loved your story. As always. Smiles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Colby! I know his type well. :) And you're right. They do push us! Grrrr . . .

      Delete
  2. My times tables are better than ever; I just fire up that old calculator and I'm all set.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's OK about the times tables. That's why there are calculators on smart phones, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TeeHee! When I got my new phone, that was the first thing I looked for!

      Delete
  4. I'm sure our old teachers in primary school never anticipated the age of portable calculators and calculator apps on iphones and built in calculators in computers...no one needs to know their time tables any more. No one needs to know or remember anything any more. The information is right at our fingertips. Pity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And my brain is feeling the lack . . .

      Delete
  5. That brought back memories. It made me remember the anxiety as Sister Mary Ramunda (yes, she was as scary as her name) would go up and down the aisles asking questions that I was afraid I would not have the correct answer. I guess there was a lesson in the humiliation of being wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Man! That was Mr. Meldrum! When he asked me a question, everything I had ever known just . . . disappeared. Like magic. I'll have to write about Mr. Meldrum!

      Delete
  6. Your husby is a hoot Diane... how cute;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I'll keep him around . . .

      Delete
  7. "She of the blue hair..." - smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always wondered if that was the colour she was going for . . .

      Delete
  8. I love a good story! New follower from NOBH.
    Be blessed,
    Julie @ Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk
    www.heymommychocolatemilk.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Julie! So glad to have you with us! Blessings to you as well!

      Delete
  9. Cute story! It brought back memories in my Catholic elementary school classes when we had to race our classmates to find words in a dictionary...now for some reason I always had butterfingers and my flipping through dictionary page technique was never quite quick enough. That or my mind would totally go blank and I forgot the alphabet order altogether! Needless to say I didn't care too much for finding words in a dictionary game! :) So good to read a post of yours Diane after way too long! I always enjoy my stay here when I can come visit! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Tracy! We must be kindred spirits. My mind blanked far too often!

      Delete
  10. LOL Math has never been my thing, glad you found your husband and he appears to know what he is doing with math:) Thanks for linking up to the NOBH as always fun to read your stories

    ReplyDelete

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