November 17, 1969
Our school days were busy and went by fast as Nate and I moved through the last full week before a short Thanksgiving week – which would culminate in our wedding!
Although my heart wasn’t always in my classroom work, I loved recess – the perfect time to get rid of all the excess energy I seemed to have. Sometimes I found myself running around like a first-grader, happy to race the kids in games of “Red Rover Come Over” and “Steal the Bacon.”
Then one day we had a playground crisis that could have ended in the death of one of my first graders. Our playground had an old merry-go-round that was popular with all the children. On that day, after the girls had all scrambled on board, the boys got the merry-go-round spinning at full speed.
The kids were all squealing with delight when suddenly a little girl’s dress somehow got caught in the center wheel of the merry-go-round. With each revolution the fabric pulled tighter around her neck, and none of the other children noticed.
Linda’s class and mine shared playground time, and as she and I stood chatting, the merry-go-round wasn’t in her line of vision…. but it was in mine. As it continued to spin, the little girl’s air supply was being cut off tighter and tighter. In a few seconds she was going to be unconscious – and possibly choke to death.
As my brain finally kicked in and I realized what was happening, I bolted toward the merry-go-round yelling for the boys to stop pushing. Together we wrenched the heavy thing to a stop, and I jumped on. With one hand I grabbed the little girl out of the middle of the merry-go-round while yanking her dress up and off the center wheel with the other hand.
She took in a giant gulp of air…. and the crisis was over.
Even though she rallied quickly, I kept a close eye on her throughout the afternoon. She seemed no worse for wear, and gradually the red marks around her neck faded. I wondered if I should mention the incident to her mother — but knew that if I did tell her, she would worry endlessly about her daughter’s safety after that.
By 3:00, I had decided to let it go by. And if this sweet little girl ever described all the merry-go-round excitement to her parents, I never heard about it.
Back at our apartment when I told Nate the story, he cautioned me to be more vigilant. And in an effort to make me take him seriously, he mentioned the possibility of law suits – as any good law student would.
But I had already learned my lesson.
“Be ready to do whatever is good.” (Titus 3:1)