During the past months, countless people have expressed their appreciation for the “Memories by J” columns.

“Share your memories,” Fred Inniger suggested to Jane Hampshire when he visited her last summer.

So in beautiful cursive handwriting, Jane Hampshire, 83, of Kendallville, wrote to my husband Terry and me last summer, reminiscing and asking, “How about giving ‘Memories by J’ a try?”

Mrs. Hampshire was Terry’s second grade teacher at Avilla Elementary — she also taught at the Garrett, Albion and Rome City elementary schools. Her first story appeared Aug. 30.

Here is her sixth story. Thank you, Jane, for another trip down memory lane.

When I taught at J.E. Ober Elementary School, we had recess duty on the east and south playgrounds. When it was our day to watch six rooms of reading readiness and first grade children, we always had our whistle to use when recess was over and it was time to line up and return to our classrooms.

It seemed like I always had a problem with the students hearing me blow the whistle when they were on the south playground. Maybe because it was plastic and it probably came out of a Cracker Jack box. If they were late to line up because they did not hear my plastic whistle, they would get in trouble with their home room teachers.

One day when I had recess duty I saw a nice looking man coming toward me on the playground. As he got closer, I could see it was the late Coach Denny Feagler from the high school. As he got closer, he said, “I heard you have been having trouble getting the kids lined up, so I have something I would like to give you.”

He opened his hand and it had a shiny metal whistle, just like the one officials use in sporting events. He said this could be heard in any gymnasium over the crowd noise, cheerleaders and especially the band playing “Wipe Out.” He told me to try it out with the children and it was the loudest noise I had heard that year. Maybe you have realized, I never had kids late again.

In some other story, I will tell you about my late son Joel, but I will finish my story about the magical whistle first!

When our family lost our son Joel at 19 years old, it was unbelievable. I wanted to do something special. During much sadness, I went to the funeral director and asked him if I could do something before he closed the casket for our son’s funeral service. He told me it would be fine.

Joel had his gym shoes on because of playing for East Noble High School. I very carefully took his hand and placed my magical whistle that the late Denny Feagler had given me years ago.

I always thought that Denny and Joel probably used my whistle and Denny’s whistle from Garrett High School to referee some pick up games in somewhere beyond.

Thanks, Denny, for my awesome gift, and in my dreams I hope a wonderful coach like you met up with our son, Joel.

So many memories.

Grace Housholder, a columnist and editorial writer, enjoys sharing stories from people of all ages. Contact her at ghousholder@kpcmedia.com.

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