the burning of washington

This is a Catholic school story again .

I liked to have my classes make flour-and-water maps . A little geography . A little history . A little fun . There’s less and less of that kind of thing going on now in these days of testing , teaching to the test , and testing again . No test for flour-and-water mapping  !

This particular year the students each  chose a state . They made a dough shape of their state and I put the little dough states in an oven in the teachers’ lounge at a low heat to dry out .

In Catholic elementary schools , on Fridays , the school troops over to the church for noon Mass . So we were sitting in the church . One of my students said to me : Do you smell smoke , Mr. H ?

No , I didn’t .

I think I smell smoke , another student said .  I didn’t . I figured that they were grasping for any little distraction . Concentrate on the Mass , I said .

And then there were sirens . A fire truck .  Then more sirens . Fire trucks . Close by .

And then the light bulb went on in my head : I left the states drying in the oven !

I rushed out into a mass of firemen scooting around with extinguishers , walkie talkies . The school was surrounded . Fire crews were unravelling their hoses . It’s just smoke from the oven , one of them reassured  me . No ignition .

No ignition , I told the principal as she rushed into the building . Black smoke billowed out the door as she entered . Open the windows , she said . You did this ? she asked matter-of-factly .   She knew .

It was Washington , I said . It still had cardboard on the bottom and the cardboard caused the smoke .

Washington ? she said .  She looked at me with an unexpectedly tolerant stare . Help me get this smoke out of here , she said . And she was done . She never said another word about it .

The fire department always sends everyone when it’s a school , the pastor said to me as he passed me in the hallway . He was carrying a fire extinguisher . I wonder what happened ? he said to the principal .

It was Washington , she said to him . He looked at her briefly as if he should know what she meant , and then he sped away with his extinguisher .

Good one , Mr. H.  ! , one of my students softly whispered to me later . You burned Washington .
There was a fathomless measure of collegial sympathy in his conspiratorial gaze .

8 Comments

Filed under humor

8 responses to “the burning of washington

  1. Oh, I love this. What a great story and creative teaching! The kids will never forget that lesson 🙂 So glad everyone had a sense of humor.

  2. I would have loved to have been one of your students that day. “I had a perfect Washington but Mr. H burned it”

  3. This made me laugh about the oven and the states drying in it. Quite a big ruckus, I imagine! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s