Thursday, March 03, 2011

Midwood School 1942-1948

 Mr. Levi

By Obie Oakley,

As we were growing up, the title of Mister implied a man with a position of importance to the one addressing him. For example it usually meant someone older or perhaps an authority figure. Mister carried with it a status of being dignified and wisdom in dealing with others. A Mister worthy of the title was compassionate and committed to fairness and a job well done. A true Mister was willing to take the time to encourage others and cause them to feel better about themselves.

In my years in Midwood Elementary School, the authority figure was Eva Burch, God forbid we ever referred to in any way other than Miss Burch. She was our principal and was an authoritarian ruler, quite stern and seemingly unapproachable to this young elementary student.

Of course there were the lessons we learned from that wonderful group of teachers we had who not only taught abc’s but also “life lessons” such as fairness, sharing, discipline, obedience and even Bible verses. These gentle dedicated professionals left us indelibly imprinted with many of the virtues of life that would remain with us for the rest of our lives. We remember them as Miss Price, Mrs. Minogue, Mrs. Craig, Miss Kennedy and Miss Yost to mention a few.

I think however, some of my real lessons in that environment came from Levi, never Mr. Levi, just Levi. You see, Levi was our somewhat portly custodian who came in early and made sure our classrooms were warm. Levi kept the building immaculately clean and the grounds cut and free of debris. He raised and lowered the flag on the front lawn every day. This quite gentleman was always dressed in a neat pair of bib-overalls and crisp shirt that seemed to be as much a part of him as his smile.

The thing I remember most about Levi was that he was would open the “book store” from an enclosed bookcase in the hallway and sell us our school supplies of pencils, paper and crayons. He would stand beside his “store” and patiently wait for us to make up our minds or fumble for the money our mothers had given us. It was during these times as well as others as he moved about the building that we were beneficiaries of his life lessons.

Perhaps the most memorable trait Levi passed along was his positive attitude. Always with a smile, always gentle he never seemed too busy to lean down and listen to the little 7-year old who wanted to tell him something. Levi taught us the meaning of dignity, firmness with a blend of fairness from an obvious position of certain authority.

Overdue as it may be, the time has come to correct an innocent and unintentional yet overlooked act of courtesy. So, here goes, sixty + years later, thank you MISTER LEVI! 

Midwood Kids    (Click on picture to enlarge)