Though I hated Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, some of its teachers were kind. Mrs. Patrick treated us as people, not problems. She became my favourite teacher as a result of her genuine compassion for us. Being far from home in a sterile institution, her love for us seemed heaven-sent.
In Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, I wrote about the time this delightful lady played a trick on me when she taught us how to grow plants. This is an excerpt which tells what happened.
Along with the usual clothes and school work folders, Mrs. Parker allowed me to take home the plants which we grew in Mrs. Patrick’s class. I cannot recall what variety they were but I fondly remember a trick which my favourite teacher played on me. Along with my seed of whatever it was we planted, Mrs. Patrick sprinkled various other seeds which all sprouted too. “I didn’t think they’d all come up,” she admitted to me afterwards.
I took my duties seriously, having been warned that the plants would wither and die if I failed to water them. On the first day of our education in gardening, I poured a cup of water into the wooden planter as our teacher instructed. When I touched the soil, it still felt dry. I decided maybe it needed more and poured in another glass. As the dirt still felt dry, I poured a third glass into the planter.
“Brucey, stop!” Mrs. Patrick exclaimed. “You’re getting water all over the floor.” I looked down at my shoes and realized I had caused a small flood. “There are holes in the bottom of the planter so the plants won’t get too much water and drown.”
“I’m sorry for the mess,” I apologized. “Will I get in trouble for this?”
“Don’t worry, the janitor will mop this up,” she reassured.
When I showed Mom the plants, she was amazed by the colour of the dirt. It was brown and not black like the prairie soil she knew since childhood.
Deliverance from Jericho abounds with vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Please feel free to visit http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com for more information about my writing.