Looking Back: Miss Norsworthy

This past Sunday, I posted about one of my most influential high school teachers, Mr. Keith Matney. Today I want to tell you about a very different teacher and the very different reasons I remember her so fondly.

Miss Norsworthy was short. At least I remember her to be. Probably far under five feet. And she was an older lady. Of course, in those days, anyone over thirty was ancient, but Miss Norsworthy was probably at least in her fifties.

She was my Spanish teacher for two of the three years I studied Spanish in high school, and she always wore a flower in her hair in what I assumed to be a Spanish kind of way. Of course, popular  opinion was that she was bald in that spot and just trying to cover it up. I doubt that anyone actually believed that, however.

I learned a lot of Spanish from her, Spanish I wish I could recall better now. But thanks to her good grounding, I wasn’t totally cut off from comprehending the people I met on last year’s mission trip to Nicaragua. The biggest problem is that native Spanish speakers tend to talk faster than I can listen and comprehend. Ah, well. I need to converse with people whose Spanish is tinged with a good old Southern drawl.

Or maybe not. I believe one of the beauties of Spanish is that it’s far too easy for one sentence to flow into the next.

Oh, okay. You’re right. Whatever happened to talking about Miss Norsworthy?

I remember two things about her. Things I’ll never forget. The first was the day she was chasing a nuisance housefly around the classroom and finally cornered it on Tommy Coggins’ face. Talk about embarrassing…

The other thing is far more serious. I had a last period study hall and was permitted to leave. Although I’d gone outside, I wasn’t waiting for a city bus the way I normally would’ve done. After a few minutes, Miss Norsworthy came outside and asked me if I wanted to listen to her car radio with her.

Weird! But she was too old and too prim and proper to have been up to no good. She seemed to be in an especially serious mood, and I couldn’t help wondering what was up.

The news was on. But not a regularly scheduled news report, but something that seemed to be happening. After a few minutes I learned that President Kennedy had been shot. Although I’d never been a fan of his, that was a horrible thing to hear about. Like so many other Americans, we remained glued to that radio as long as we could.

Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t have to be by myself on hearing of President Kennedy’s assassination. And I will always value that precious little lady who invited me to share those moments of shock and grief with her.

What about you? Are you old enough to remember that fateful day? Do you have any particular memories you could share in a comment?


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“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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Best regards,