Opening Exercises

Opening Exercises

Medford, MA 1946-1947

Every morning of third grade, our teacher, Mrs. Malone, would start the day with what she called “Opening Exercises.” First we would fold our hands on our desks and recite the Lord’s Prayer. All but two of us were Catholic, so the last line of that prayer was a whisper. Periodically Mrs. Malone would mutter, ”Some people in this room don’t know how to pray!” After the prayer we would stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance, and then Mrs. Malone would announce the song of the day. She would mysteriously produce a pitch pipe  and sound a tone, ensuring we would begin the song on the proper note. She rotated through the songs on a regular basis: “The Star Spangled Banner,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” all three verses of “America the Beautiful,” and then, believe it or not, Stephen Foster’s “Old Black Joe.” I’ve never figured out how or why she ever included that unlikely song .

I always wanted a pitch pipe of my own, and many years later, I inherited one from another teacher. I never really used it, and now it lies forgotten in a drawer somewhere. But I’ve never forgotten the words to “Old Black Joe.” In case you’re not familiar with the song, I include the words here and leave you to wonder about this choice.

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,

Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away,

Gone from the earth to a better land I know,

I hear their gentle voices calling Old Black Joe.


I’m coming, I’m coming, for my head is bending low,

I hear their gentle voices calling Old Black Joe.

Dorothy C. Judd      (c)     2015

Next post: Monday, July 27




About twofelines

What to say? I love my family and friends. I also love kids, cats, and books. Oh, and potato chips and Cheez-its. I am a retired teacher who still loves to be in the classroom, so now I am a substitute teacher.
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