Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Miss Brooks

I've been listening to  an old radio show, "Our Miss Brooks, " starring Eve Arden.  Miss Brooks was a feisty, acerbic, smart, single, independent high school English teacher, a remarkable radio character for the time, certainly a cool role model for young women.  The era is the late 1940's. Connie Brooks is underpaid, not unionized, subject to the whims of a tyrannical boss, her principal, who orders her to do extra work (or "favors") - some of it menial, demeaning, or absurd, she's often in fear for her job for reasons unrelated to her teaching skills. The principal lives very comfortably.   Miss Brooks'  car is usually in the repair shop; a student drives her to school in his jalopy  most days. Some months she can't pay her rent on time - she resides with an elderly woman;  occasionally she can't afford a cheap lunch in the school cafeteria. She has an unrequited crush on Mr. Boynton, a biology teacher, but he's also  broke most of the time,  despite being much more frugal than Miss Brooks, who is a soft touch.  Boynton maintains his classroom menagerie of frogs & hamsters at his own expense.  At the center of the show is, I think, an economic reality of the era for school teachers. By the time I entered high school it had changed, although job security - tenure -  rather than salary was the greater attraction. A funny show.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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