Mixsonian Morrs and Barbara Larry

9th Grade

Larry 9th GradeIn September Beth started Kindergarten at Littlewood School, David in 7th grade at Westwood and Brenda started 10th grade at Gainesville High.  I started 99h Grade, again at Westwood and it was good again being the older, more experienced kid in the school, I couldn't ever imagine I was like the new 7th graders.  I did poorly in Mrs. Hodges English class not caring for it much and struggled with spelling.  Algebra with Mr. McGill on the other hand I really liked, finding equations fascinating.  Liking science, I signed up for the advanced biology class called Biological Science, Curriculum Study or just BSCS as it was known, really liked it. 

Driver Education was held in a single wide house trailer that was parked in the parking lot of the school and had room for a dozen students in two rows of six.  There was some book learning and the study of the Florida Driver’s handbook but more interesting was the driver simulator.  Each student position was setup like a car, with steering wheel, turn signals, gas and brake pedals.  At the front of the trailer was a projector screen which movies would be show a view looking out the windshield of a car as a person drove down a road.  Each student had to make the appropriate actions as the movie played, turns, turn signals, brake and gas pedals.  There were only four movies with each being a roll of 16mm film which the instructor would mount in the projector, turn off the lights, start the film and off we would go.  The system recorded your driving actions and at the end of the simulation the teacher would get a printout showing if you made the appropriate turns, brake, turn signals and gas pedal at the right time.  I did pretty well, but more than once I played around like swerving to hit a trashcan on the side of the road.  Of course, the movie being shown was fixed showing the same thing for everyone so I don’t know if I actually hit the can or not, but it was great fun.

One of the more interesting things we did in BSCS was study genetics Fruit Flyby using fruit flies, or Drosophila as we learned their scientific name.  For the experiment we bred fruit flies to see what eye color their offspring would have which could be either red or brown. The teacher brought in some flies with each eye color and divided up to the students into teams of two. Each team would get a set of flies to breed and observer the color of their offspring which would hatch in a few days.  To breed the flies, you first had to sort them into male, female, white and red eyes and put appropriate ones together in a jar together. The thing about fruit flies, as you probably know if you ever had a piece of rotting fruit in the house, is that they are small, about the size of the head of a pin which made sorting them somewhat difficult.  To accomplish the sorting, the teacher showed how to put a cotton ball with a drop of ether on it into a second jar, placing it on top of the jar with the flies which would anesthetize them, and they would fall to the bottom of the jar where you would pick them up with tweezers, put them under a microscope to determine their sex and eye color then put the selected ones into a new jar for the experiment.  Although not hard, there was a catch to this, if you left them to long in the anesthesia they would die, if you didn’t do it long enough, they would wake up under the microscope and fly away.  It went pretty well as we were only selecting male and female fly and we soon had them in our jar which we added some fly food.  In a couple of days laid eggs which hatched ten days later.  Now our jar, as well as the other teams’ jars, all had dozens of baby flies.  The experiment now required to count the offspring, recording the number of males, females, and eye color. 

We did pretty well the first time with two flies, now there were more than a dozen.  We put a drop of ether on the cotton ball, put the two jars together and quickly the flies were all asleep in the bottom of their jar.  Next step counting, we carefully picked up the flies, and put the under the microscope with one partner looking, and the other recording what he saw. Well there were over a dozen of them, it took some time to look and count, before we knew it the flies begin to wake up and fly off.  Well we were not the only team with the problem, most every team did.  Soon there were fruit flies everywhere in the classroom.  It took a couple of weeks before the janitor finally got rid of them all.

Just before we started the fruit fly experiment, the called teacher me aside one day, at first, I thought I did something wrong but as it turned out she want to see if I would ask my dad for a few supplies for the class.  It seems she knew my dad worked in the Chemistry Department at the University from when she took chemistry there.  She gave me the list which I gave to Dad that evening explaining it was from my science teacher.  The next day he come home with a small box of the things she asked for which I gave my teacher the next day.   Include in the box was a small jar of ether, it seems the school wouldn’t pay for such supplies.

Mrs. WarrenMrs. Warren

Mrs. Warren Another elective I took was Spanish as I was told you needed a foreign language to get into to college and I planned to go to college, so I signed up.  Once again Westwood was overflowing with students to the extent they ran out of temporary classrooms so they put a temporary partition up at the end of the main mall making it into a class room.  I adored Miss Warren, I thought she was the most beautiful teacher ever, perhaps clouding my mind for I did very poorly in Spanish, although I don’t think my crush on her had anything to do with it. I had trouble enough with English vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation, well it was even worse with Spanish.  I made a D the first session then two F’s.  Pronunciation was really hard for me, I remember Miss Warren asking me to pronounce the Spanish word for grandmother, abuela, she said, asking me to repeat.  So I say abuela, “No, its abuela, try again.” she said, and I repeated it again as far as I could tell exactly as she said it, but no it wasn’t right, it must have gone on for five minutes, after a few kids begin to snicker, she gave up and moved on.  But my downfall was really the spelling.  I had hard enough time with English spelling but to try to spell Spanish words I couldn’t even pronounce; I was lucky to get one or two words right on a spelling test.  I was desperate, I had just flunked two sessions, so I cheated.  I wrote the words down on a 3x5 card which I slipped under my leg as I sat in my seat and when the teacher wasn’t looking, pull it out and right down the word on the test.   Well, she caught me and sent me to the principle’s office where, after sitting in a chair outside his office for a few minutes, he called me in, asked me what happened and why.  I explained I was flunking and desperate.  The principle then  asked if I understood what I did was wrong, I said yes, he then asked that I wouldn’t do it again, I said I wouldn’t and he let me return to class.  Fortunately, I got back to class just as the bell rang so I held back a moment so that the other students could leave and not see my shame, then went in and collected my books and went to my next class.  It would be the only time I cheated in school and the only time I was sent to the principle’s office.  I studied a bit harder making C’s finishing the year with a D overall. 

1960's Typewriter Another elective class was typing.  It was 1960's TypewriterMom who talked me in to taking typing, saying that I would need it later to type papers when I was in college.  I enjoyed typing, it was an easy class and better yet, had no homework, after all few people had typewriters at home.  Typewriters had advanced since the manual typewriters used when Mom was school, they now were electric which made typing much easier.  The class started slow, learning where the letters were on the keyboard, then building up to words and sentences.  We soon were typing the sentence “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” over and over, the teacher explained the sentence used every character in the alphabet.  Tests were based on accuracy and speed, the best I ever manage was 52 words per minute, short of the 60 words per minute the teacher considered average.   Later in the class we learned how to format letters, do such things like indentation, carbon copies, and most importantly, correction.  Self-correcting typewriters had not come out yet, so correction involved backspacing, lifting the ribbon, inserting a piece of white correction paper then typing the incorrect letter again causing the white on the correction paper to erase the incorrect letter, backspacing again and typing the correct letter.  A slow process that really encouraged one to not make mistakes. 

The thing I remember most about typing class, well besides the typing, was the flies, big black flies.  The school rooms did not have air conditioning, so the windows were often open and some of the screens were missing letting the flies get into the room, not just an occasional fly, but hundreds of them.  We found out a house across the street from the school had spread chicken poop all over their yard as fertilizer attracting and breeding thousands of flies.  Soon the boys in class started shooting the flies with a rubber bands, but the teacher put a stop to it with it getting a bit out of control with rubber band flying around the class.  Not to be deterred, tied several rubber bands together making a rubber strip and about eight inches long which I could hold in one hand, stretching the other end back then letting it go to snap out and hitting the fly.  It became a contest to see who could get the most flies in a class, eight or ten on a good day. Typing did prove to be useful in typing papers in high school, but really helped a few years later when I started using computers.

Updated: 09-22-2022

Leigh Hall