I’ve been interested in writing most of my life. As a grade school student, my interests developed with some encouragement from my educators. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Hemenway, wrote a note on my report card that I might perhaps become a writer someday. I was drawn to writing as a form of self-expression and to occupy my time and exercise my imagination. There weren’t many kids on my road, the Cavendish Gulf Road in Cavendish, Vermont, which was a dirt road in a very narrow forest valley. My father enjoyed writing down the incidents he encountered in his career as a woodsman and hunter. He often hand wrote the adventures and at one point he assembled and typed them into a manuscript. He had talked with a neighbor, Mr. Cross, who had printing experience, and hoped he might get instruction on getting it printed someday.
I often was considered a “cut up” in the classroom. I often pulled pranks and did foolish antics to entertain my classmates. Duttonsville Grade School was a three room school that had multi grades per room. The first and second grades were in one room, the third, fourth, and fifth in the next, and sixth, seventh, and eighth in the last room. The principal was the teacher of the upper three grades of the school. The average student population including all grades was approximately 75 to 80. Each year there was a big graduation ceremony for the leaving eighth grade class. We all knew each other by name.
I remember writing songs and singing them to my fellow students, writing poetry that reflected my surroundings and thoughts of people around me. I recall my biggest encouragement came as a secondary reaction to a punishment I had received. One day in the spring, while I was in sixth grade, the principal, Mr. Boule’ caught me pulling a stunt in the front of the class. I was making gestures to entertain the students and he was watching in the window of the door. Things only got worse as I tried to talk my way out of that one. My punishment escalated from a 500 word essay to a 5,000 word essay. I remember taking my sweet time to work on writing the story. One warm day he reminded me that baseball season was nearly upon us and I wouldn’t be able to play on the team unless I had completed the writing. I was a literal kid and decided a big punishment with so many words would need to be written on big paper. So I went to the attic supply area and found some packing paper that was a tinted green color. The paper was approximately 14 by 20 inches in size. I wrote the entire thing by hand. It was a story about a bear coming down to a farm and killing a family dog, and I was the chosen one to go up to the top of the mountain to get the revenge and dispatch the bear. The adventure turned into a hand to hand fight in the night, and as it turned out, we both died on the mountain top. As I was dying, and unable to remove the bear from on top of me, I had scratched a simple poem in the dirt.
Finally finished, I proudly handed in my completed essay to Mr. Boule’, and expected he’d count every word. The next day he came to me with my paper in hand, and in a fairly angry tone, accused me of plagiarizing the poem at the end of the story. He told me he’d check every library book in the classroom and when he found the piece I’d supposedly copied, he was going to double the punishment and not allow me to play baseball. I couldn’t stop grinning. I knew I’d created the whole thing on my own and that he’d never find any evidence of my having copied anything.
Since that day I have always given myself the time and energy to write whenever I am inspired to create. I enjoy writing songs, poems, articles, and stories. My wife and I both like to write and encourage our daughter to make up stories when she is talking to us or her dolls. She has a very creative imagination.
Photo: Here is a picture of the poem that the character writes at the end of my story……
(c) Rick Wyman