Mrs. Jane Hampshire

Avilla School second grade teacher Mrs. Jane Hampshire as pictured in the 1960-1961 yearbook.

“Share your memories” Fred Inniger suggested to Jane Hampshire when he visited her a while back.

So in beautiful cursive handwriting, Jane Hampshire, 83, of Kendallville wrote to Terry and me, 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.

Here is her first story.

When I taught second grade at Avilla Elementary School, I was a new teacher out of college so I had a lot to learn. At our school we still had recesses for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. You could usually get some time on the west side playground if you finished your noon lunch before the bell rang to be back in class.

This was an ideal situation in the fall and usually in the spring, but if the weather was rainy or too cold you stayed in the classroom with the teacher supervising. If we were lucky we could use the high school gym, where the girls jumped rope or practiced cheerleading, while most of the boys shot hoops.

The Avilla School housed elementary students to seniors in high school, until they graduated in the spring. We had lots of fun at noon recesses whenever the gym was available.

By the time the winter months dragged along we were bored with indoor recesses. I had a good idea, but I did not know what the students would think of it.

There was one second grade and one third grade. My idea was to have my second grade boys playing the third grade boys, with the girls being the cheerleaders, but it would be at noon recess in the gym.

When I told my class about it, they got really excited and said they would practice hard and make me proud.

The day finally arrived and the game was close or tied most of the time. It got down to the final 30 seconds and we had the ball at halfway court when I called time out. We set up the play to go to the halfway court and then to the free throw line and hope someone would be open near the basket. The late Chad Wappes got the ball and saw this tall kid wide open under the basket. Chad swooshed the ball and with a small jump by his teammate it went in the hoop. We had beat the third graders on a cold winter day at noon in the Avilla gym.

The tallest student on the team, who looked like a redwood tree out in California, was none other than Terry Housholder.

The upper elementary kids heard about it, the junior high school could not believe it, but the high school, especially the seniors, were amazed. I never knew back then but I did know there was no teasing or bullying to my humble second graders.

My children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren plus family and friends had an 80th birthday party for me. They did try to surprise me but I was really clever and figured it out. I was astonished how many people showed up. Standing room only!

I was trying to circulate ... later I heard someone who said, “Don’t you dare talk about those Avilla memories without me!” Would you believe it was the late Chad Wappes and his wife Linda and did we ever reminisce.

Chad and Linda had to leave to go to a wedding and reception but Terry and I still had lots to talk about ... As I took time to read my notes that people signed on my guest table, I came across the messages from Chad and Terry. Chad had written, “One of your most memorable students, Ha! Ha!”

Terry had written, “To my favorite Avilla School teacher! With love Terry Housholder and Grace.”

Occasions like this make me so happy that I taught children for more than 30 years.

GRACE HOUSHOLDER is a columnist and editorial writer for this newspaper. Contact her at ghousholder@kpcmedia.com.

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