May 26, 1970
With only 7 days of the school year left for me and even fewer for Nate, we were anxious to leap into summer. I would be student teaching and attending summer school. Nate would be working full time (we hoped), though we didn’t know at what.
As I began emptying my classroom a little each day, thoughts of teaching kindergarten in the fall were front-and-center in my mind. I was confident I could teach them well and, thanks to my 1st grade year, now had a thorough knowledge of what we were shooting for.
My mind filled with happy scenes of marching around the room in a rhythm band and singing songs at the start of each day.
Linda and Judy, my carpool buddies, wouldn’t be commuting to Danville anymore, so the long drive would be a solitary one for me, come fall. But I could play music and sing along, a different kind of enjoyment.
As I cleaned out my classroom desk, I also thought of Principal Scarce having lost 3 of his 7 teachers simultaneously. He didn’t seem to hold any ill will toward us and invited us all to his home for a bar-b-q on the last day of school, June 5th.
As for Nate, he was burrowing in on the books for another round of grueling finals, hoping to find a summer job that might let his brain rest a little. He had his eye on construction work, maybe holding a stop-and-go sign or sweeping up debris.
An ad in the local paper sounded promising. Young men would show up to a local parking lot early each morning to sign up for road construction crews. When their names were called, they’d be assigned to a specific project and then trained at the site. The pay was good, and the work was physical. And I thought of another advantage: a nice sun tan.
As we planned our summer we were excited about something else, too – getting a dog! One of my students had a mama-dog who’d given birth to 8 puppies about a month earlier. She had begged me to come to her house to see them, and I had, taking Linda and Judy along on our way back to Champaign.
The minute I saw this miniature look-alike I was committed to him and couldn’t wait to introduce him to Nate.
“Not till after finals,” he said, though he did share my enthusiasm. “It’ll be perfect timing to train him, too, with summer weather and all.” We hadn’t discussed who would be making those frequent potty-trips outside, up and down to the 3rd floor, but we knew having a new Toby was going to be great fun.
Our little guy would be ready to come home with us the week school ended, when he’d be 6 weeks old – and there would be no charge. This was going to be the best summer ever, as we became a family of three.
“You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.” (Psalm 36:6)