Alice Brown, by Harry D. McTaggart


I recall a story that Alice told me when I was the head teacher of Langley Central School. Alice was the teacher of the Division 2, Grade 7 class. She was recalling her experiences as a teacher at the old one-room Belmont Elementary School situated on 40 Avenue where the new Belmont Elementary is presently situated. 

The creek behind the school quite often flooded, and since the outhouses were at the end of a pathway behind the school, it was necessary to walk through a fair expanse of water to get to the two-hole toilets. Alice Brown would leave her gumboots at the classroom door, and anyone needing to go to the outhouse would use her gumboots. 

Alice Brown lived on the Brown Farm on the Fraser Highway and would ride her horse to and from school every day. As it would graze on the playground during the day, the students developed quite an attachment to her horse. 

Alice Brown was highly respected by her pupils and by her colleagues. There was absolutely no question as to who was in charge in her classroom. She was a strict disciplinarian, but the pupils loved her. 

Alice's classroom was at one end of the upstairs hallway and mine was at the other. When the bell rang for pupils to return to class at the end of recess or noon hour, Miss Brown and I would be at our stations at the top of the staircases. If any pupils were running or being noisy, I can remember the sharp penetrating sound of Miss Brown's hands slapping together-a most piercing crack. The pupils straightened up right away because they knew Miss Brown meant business. 

I think Miss Brown must have remembered the names of all pupils that she ever taught. She certainly committed the names of my three children to memory, and never missed one of their birthdays. 

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