The Influence of Teachers: The Story of Mrs. Booth

When I was in first grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Booth. She was an outrageously hip product of the early ‘70s – very hippie-esque, with long flowing skirts and sandals, uber-cool Afro-styled hair, and enormous hoop earrings. Most days she wore some kind of beaded necklace or bracelet that always made me think of macramé.

Mrs. Booth took the entire first grade on a field trip once, to a local beachside community. To be honest, I can’t remember the original purpose of the field trip. There must have been some sort of educational relevancy. (… Or … I don’t know, maybe not. This was the ‘70s, afterall.) But mostly I remember running across the sand with 25 other first graders, squealing with delight when the Pacific hit our toes, and our shoes becoming a tangled mess of 50 mismatched sneakers back on the beach with the adults. I held hands with a girl named Robin, who was my bus partner, and drank soda for the first time out of a can with a straw. I remember there being something to do with a firefighting boat that patrolled the harbor – I think we got a little tour of how it worked, or something. But that was neither here nor there — the real highlight of the trip, at least in my mind, was Mrs. Booth’s sailboat, which she lived on.

Long before the day of law suits and fine-print permission slips, I guess it was okay for teachers to be a little more personal about field trips, and I remember Mrs. Booth letting us all funnel single-file into her boat.  Continue reading

Flatsy Dolls and Other Toys of Our Youth

img_2297At Christmas dinner this year, we somehow got on the conversation of toys from our childhoods — those things we loved to play with when we were eight or nine. My mom, who grew up in the ‘50s, said she loved playing with a baton. My dad mentioned playing with “fort” type characters and setting them up to fight each other. My sister-in-law, who grew up in the Philippines in the ’70s, said that electronic games were a big hit when she was a kid. My brother was a big Legos fan, and also had an elaborate train set (set up with my parents) that sat on top of a ping-pong table. (My parents and my brother made hills and valleys and trees and bridges and tunnels for it – then we’d stand in the den watch the thing go.)


I, however, had Flatsy dolls. I had lots of other fun toys, too, but Flatsies definitely stand out in my memory – probably because you can’t find them any more. (I heard they were only made until about 1973.) We had them in two sizes – big (about the size of an adult palm) or small (about 2 inches high). They were rubbery, like Gumby, and you could change their clothes, which all had that sort of Mod ‘60s look. I guess they’d be like what is today a Polly Pocket, but for some reason they were flat! We collected lots of them, in many colors, and had clothes for each one. Some of their names were “Trixie” and “Candy,” as I recall. (Although I don’t remember if we named them that or if that’s the name that was given to them.) When we were eight or nine, Ann Marie and I would play for hours with these dolls. We’d bounce them around the couch and the floor and make up elaborate soap-opera-type dramas that only an eight-year-old can concoct.


Interestingly, my mom kept a few (in the photo above). Maybe I’ll frame them. I wish I had their clothes, though!


What toys do you remember playing with most when you were eight or nine? Do you still have any of them?



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