BACK TO SCHOOL
My first day of public school teaching was on September 3, 1940, and I showed up at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School with two black eyes and a wide bandage across my forehead. It was not a promising way to face a new class of fourth graders.
During the Labor Day weekend, preceeding that first day of school, my husband, Jim, and I decided to celebrate my new job by going to the Hayward swimming pool with friends. We were horsing around, playing "people water polo." Two people sit on the shoulders of two other people, and each one tries to push the other one off. Ellen was on Bruce’s shoulders; Jim was on mine. Jim was pulling hard on Bruce, his hand slipped, and his elbow crashed into my forehead. I went down and came up with blood streaming down my face.
We rushed to Hayward Emergency and found the only doctor on duty over the Labor Day weekend to be an intern from India, who told us that he could not give me a local anesthetic because the skin on the forehead was too thin. After swallowing as much brandy as I could hold, Jim, Ellen and Bruce held me down while I was stitched up. Our good doctor kept saying: “Be sure you see your own doctor tomorrow. . .be sure. . .” He also warned me that I would probably have two black eyes.
The next day my own doctor reassured me that the cut was well sewn and that I probably wouldn’t have much of a scar; however, he repeated that I would look as if I’d been in a fight. And that was how I looked on my first day of teaching at Piedmont Avenue School; a wide bandage across my forehead, two magnificent shiners, facing a fourth grade class primed to torment a new teacher.
Rhoda P. Curtis