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A blast from my past

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By Jeff Moreland

 

It was about 2:30 last Wednesday afternoon when the phone rang in my office. I answered, asking the caller if I could help them.

“Is this Jeff Moreland?” the lady on the other end asked.

I told her it was, and she followed by asking if I used to live in Irvine, Kentucky.

I said I did, and politely asked with whom I was speaking.

She told me, and I think my heart skipped a beat as I heard her answer. You’ve heard the term “a blast from the past,” well this was certainly one for me.

“This is Mrs. Thorpe,” she said.

Floretta Thorpe was my first-grade teacher at Ravenna Elementary School back in 1976-1977.

She said she had seen my name in the newspaper, and she told me I was a student who was special to her, and she proceeded to tell me how proud she was of me.

Mrs. Thorpe has been retired from teaching for 19 years now. She was in the area with a group from Irvine, along with groups from other towns and even other states, who were doing missionary work in the area. She saw my name in the newspaper and called to see if I was the same Jeff Moreland she had in class 40 years ago.

As we talked, I could see images in my mind from my first-grade classroom. I remembered the strip of printed letters around the front of the classroom, and I recalled how Mrs. Thorpe led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and how we sang songs like “America The Beautiful” before class started each morning.

As our conversation went on, we told each other about our lives over the last 40 years. I told her the good news about my wife and family, and she shared with me the sad news that her husband had died not long ago.

One particular memory I have of first grade was not of Mrs. Thorpe, but of her beautiful daughter, Dianne. I can say without a doubt she was the prettiest blond-haired girl I’d seen in all of my six years.

Dianne would probably have been about 16 or 17 years old at the time, and I’ll never forget her coming to have lunch with our class one day. All of the boys in the class were tripping over themselves to get to sit beside Dianne in the cafeteria, and if you didn’t sit beside her, you at least wanted to sit across the table from her. And I was one of the lucky boys who got to do just that.

Mrs. Thorpe and I talked for quite a while, and later that afternoon I had a chance to visit with her and catch up some more in person. It was a wonderful time.

Of all the memories I have of my school years, those days in the first grade at that little community school in Estill County are some of the most special. I learned a lot of important things, and some not-so-important things, but that’s another story for another time.

Most importantly, I built a lot of friendships back in those days. And after I hung up the telephone Wednesday afternoon, I realized something; the friends I made at Ravenna Elementary were not just the other boys and girls in my classes, they were also the teachers who made those days so special, and Mrs. Thorpe will always be a special friend of mine.