This must have happened when I was in fourth or fifth grade; my older sister Jean would have been in sixth or seventh grade, and my younger sister Abby would have been a baby. We had all finished dinner, and we were sitting around the dinner table talking. We must have been talking about school and our teachers, because somehow we asked dad about the teachers he had had when he was a kid. (Mom didn’t get involved in this conversation; perhaps she was dealing with Abby.) Dad said he could only remember a few of his teachers. Jean and I said we could remember all of our teachers, and then we each proceeded to name them all. And I have a vivid memory of sitting there at one end of that dining room table thinking to myself, “How can Dad possibly forget his teachers? I’ll always remember my teachers.”
Here I am, now about the same age as Dad was at the time of that dinner table conversation. Can I remember all my elementary school teachers now? Here are the ones I can remember: Miss Sheehan (whom I didn’t like one bit), Mrs. Blanchard (whom I adored, and who read to us from the “Twilight Animal Series” books every day), Mr. Hoffman (whom I had two years in a row, and whom I liked, but who failed to teach me arithmetic). But who was my first grade teacher? was her name Mrs. Witcher? or was that my kindergarten teacher? — So much for always remembering all my elementary school teachers.
How old was I when I began to forget my teachers?
Yes, Mrs. Witcher was your first grade teacher. She was mine too. Or at least I think that’s right. I vividly remember one teacher and one teacher only: Mrs. Robichaud. fourth grade. She was young, beautiful, brilliant, creative, compassionate. We did puppet shows in her classroom, and strange hands on science experiments like getting eggs to slip into bottles and making baking soda and vinegar volcanos. She let us watch the Red Sox and if I remember right that was a pennant year. She never was impatient, she always had something unusual to say, we read poetry and wrote it, we talked about big ideas like gravity and space and time and infinity.
Above all else I wanted to be like her. Probably still do.
Well, I’m wrong. Memory is spongy and improbable. The fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Gauthier. Madame Robichaud was my French teacher in middle school. Loved her too, but Mrs. G. was the best.
Jean, Mme. Robichaud was also our freshman year French teacher. I didn’t go to middle school in Concord, so I’m not sure, perhaps she could have been your middle school French teacher, too?
By 1974, Mme. Robichaud was teaching in Concord Carlisle High School — she was my French teacher in my freshman year at CCHS. Jean, who is older than I, will have to tell us if she was indeed teaching in the middle school prior to 1974.