55 sounds like such a distinguished age, although 45 years ago you were considered as being really old when you were over 40. I particularly remember this because on Monday I heard on the radio that a woman in our village was celebrating her 100th birthday. It turned out my former 4th class teacher, Miss Rosa. I was 10 when I was in her class in 1967 and I know that we always thought of her as ‘old’ and ‘severe’. The poor woman was hardly 45 at the time. So what does this make me today?
Miss Rosa was one of these matron type teachers; always perfectly dressed, with her hair nicely set in a then fashionable beehive. She was very popular in the village and taught three generations of girls, starting with my mother, my classmates and my classmate’s daughters.
Clock-wise, starting at 9 o'clock: tutti-frutti, buttercream, raspberry bavarois, merveilleux (meringue), strawberries, profiterolls (at 6 o'clock ... but I'm not going to wait that long to eat it).
There is a sad, and yet intriguing story to her life. Her mother had died giving birth to Rosa and her father, a handsome cavalry officer, had been killed in action in WWI when Rosa was hardly 2 years old. She was raised by a wealthy local childless family, but was never legally adopted. Unlike other orphans in those days who were often ill-treated by ‘foster’ parents, Rosa received a good education and became a schoolteacher. As I said, she was considered as being very severe, but looking back, I must admit that she was the best teacher I’ve ever had. In fact, I think I acquired my love for languages and writing in her class.
At the same time she let us’ be children’. Every week a pupil was invited to bring her pet animal to school and tell the others about it. She then taught us more about the animal. A fun and yet enriching way to have a biology class.
Today Miss Rosa lives in a retirement home. From what I’ve heard, her mind is still as sharp as ever and she’s much loved by the other inmates.
To Miss Rosa: “Congratulations on your 100th birthday! These tulips are for you.”