Thursday, July 5, 2007

where I began

The very first piece of writing I remember composing - that I still have a copy of, amazingly! - is a Thanksgiving play I wrote in the 2nd grade.

I LOVED 2nd grade. Loved, loved, loved it. Mrs. Norma Bernsohn, wherever you are - you rocked my world in 2nd grade. We had our own class store to learn math, our own newspaper to learn about writing. We did science experiments and kept mice. We had guest speakers. Went on field trips to amazing places. And were encouraged to create and experiment. (Okay, yeah, I think some of those mice died in one of those experiments. And I will save my rant on the contrast between all that and the current state of public education for another day... or million)

So around Thanksgiving, I wrote a play. Not much going on in it, really. Just pilgrims landing in America and talking about their journey and - weirdly- worrying about how they would wash their clothes after such a long journey so they would be fresh for the upcoming feast with their new Indian pals. (Okay, clearly I had plot issues even then)

All girl cast, since I knew I wanted to perform it and I wrote it so I could cast all my best friends at the time and it wasn't until later in the year that I developed my first school girl crush on a guy named Bobby. Mostly boys were pretty icky in those days..

But the point is - I wrote a play. I cast it. We rehearsed. And Mrs. Bernsohn let us perform it. And I thought I was on top of the world. Got my first taste of what it took to write something and present it to an audience.

Been writing ever since in one form or another.

So thanks Mrs. Norma Bernsohn of Brenneman Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. The journey I'm on now started in your room. I've never stopped loving the process of putting words on paper and making them mean something. Never stopped wanting this to be part of my life.

Til next time...


tbernsohn said...


Norma Bernsohn was our aunt. She died this morning. I don't know if she ever knew of this posting, but I will make sure her families finds out about it. She continued to be a remarkable person throughout her 91 years.

Joy said...

My deepest condolences. Your aunt Norma was truly a wonderful person. What I wrote back in July is still true. She was the most inspiring teacher I ever had, and I suppose that is saying a lot (or perhaps a little about the Chicago Public schools!) since this was, of course, 2nd grade. I was in her room the day John Kennedy was assassinated, so I suppose that's part of it, too. You never forget the people you were with when something so horribly monumental occurs. I do believe I became a teacher because of her, and I know I became a writer in part because of her encouragement. And how weird and wonderful that something I sort of randomly posted about has come to you.

Laurie Fried said...

Norma Bernsohn was my grandmother. She used to bring me in to your second grade to wash my face before kindergarten. I was so humiliated to have my face washed in front of all those second graders.

Now your words have washed my face with tears. Thank you.

Laurie Fried