Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Column enters 10th year as Granny celebrates 90

Let’s celebrate! I’ll tell you how a love of water contributed to this long, happy life:

On our dairy farm, four miles east of Columbia, I did regular chores for which I was paid 25 cents each week.

Later I supplemented this by selling black walnuts, gooseberries, blackberries and native cedar Christmas trees.

I had an account at Columbia Savings Bank and carried a checkbook. At age 14 I had two jobs for which I was paid 75 cents a day. One was punching wires at Dad’s hay baler, and the other was keeping cattle from going through an open gate for the county road district.

I bought a regulation, leather basketball and a bathing suit - a bright-red, all-wool bathing suit with white stripes on the skirt. See the photo on the front cover of "My First 84 Years."

When I finished at University Elementary Laboratory School and entered University High, I gladly wrote my third $5 check to pay for a semester of swimming at the women’s gymnasium on Hitt Street.

We girls ran three long blocks to and from swimming class twice a week. Ice froze our wet hair in winter as we ran back.

I had been swimming in creeks and ponds but had never seen anyone swim better than I. On the first class day, Miss Ruby Cline called roll at the shallow end of that beautiful "swimming hole" and said, "All who can swim, go now to the deep water, and those who can’t swim, stay here."

I made a beeline for the deep water, and she stopped me halfway, saying: "Sue, that’s not real swimming! Go back to the shallow water!"

And she pointed to show me the way! I never told Miss Cline how she hurt me that day!

She taught me through high school and college. Between classes, she even coached me on diving so I could qualify for membership in the student club Missouri Mermaids.

Miss Cline taught and qualified me for American Red Cross senior lifesaving, water safety instructor and advanced summer training in Arkansas, Missouri and Indiana.

She drove four of us to Kansas City for an Amateur Athletic Union swimming meet, where our relay team placed second. I was more excited about the fact that we swam on the fifth floor of a large hotel.

The other girls went to sleep in the back of the car, and I was assigned to be sure Miss Cline stayed awake to drive us home. I’d already learned to admire her, but the long trip and constant conversations verified how very much I did admire that great teacher.

My degree was to be in journalism, and I was a senior with a flexible schedule when Christian College asked me to come for an interview.

"Dr. Briggs would like to see you at 11 o’clock today, if possible."

I was there, in my new black-and-white suit and spectators.

It was within two weeks of opening day, and the regular teacher had moved out of state. She was a graduate student who worked for room and board because of the Depression.

I wanted the job, lived at home and could agree to anything except room and board. Briggs had nothing budgeted but said he could pay me a little and increase it as soon as possible. I agreed!

Then a woman showed me the most beautiful white and blue tile pool west of the Mississippi River. Briggs called and doubled the offer.

I was a swimming teacher!

More later.

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