More North Elementary Memories

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Below is the May 2007 exchange between two of our classmates, Paul Snell and Don [Collier] Martinez, regarding the picture of our classmates in Mrs. Townsley's 6th grade class when we were at North Security Elementary School.


Hi, Don. I really got a kick tonight out of the picture of Mrs. Townsley's class. Yes, that is me in there and I'm impressed that you were able to pick me out. The amazing part is that I had hair. The hair went away, by the way, when I was in my early 20's. I guess CU did it to me. Back to the picture, I have a lot of great memories about that class. I also remember how we were the "high" class and the other class (I think that the teacher's name was Mr. Cummings??) wasn't the high class. At the time that seemed normal, but after working in public school for 30 years and being both a strong teacher advocate and kid advocate, I can imagine how difficult that was for a few of the people in the "low" class. Gary Emrich and I actually talked about that years ago before he died. He really felt that had left a negative "mark" on him. But for the rest of us, I think that class really prepared us for our Jr. High career. Virtually all of my feelings about that group are positive. I have really fond memories of that class. I had just come to North for 6th grade from Widefield Elementary where 5th grade was really tough for me. I was in a class of Mrs. Gladys Smith (Evans) who was truly an amazing lady. Evans Elementary School out in Falcon is named for her. The only reason that I was able to make it in Mrs. Townsley's class was because of Mrs. Smith. By the way, do you remember her [Mrs.Townsley's] husband? He was actually a chiropractor who actually treated my football-career ending 9th grade rib injury.


Paul, yes I remember that Mrs. Townsley's class was the "smart" kids. When I first moved to Security with my stepdad (Collier) and my mother (Mexican American), I was in 4th grade at North Security Elementary School. Having been raised by my Spanish-speaking mother before she remarried to my stepdad when I was five years old, I couldn't speak English by the time I began first grade in Colorado Springs. There were no bilingual programs in those years, so it was sink or swim. My mother always encouraged me to learn English, but she was illiterate (couldn't read or write) and couldn't help me with my homework. Some teachers thought I would always be in "remedial" classes because of what they termed as my "language handicap." By the time we got to Security when I was in 4th grade, I was doing fairly well with learning English. I was so proud when I won the spelling bee in one of my classes at North Security Elementary. I don't recall which class I was in during 6th grade, but I know I was not with the "smart" kids in Mrs. Townsley's class. I vaguely recall being in Mrs. Herbert's class, but it might have been Mr. Cummings' class.

Speaking of Gary Emrich, I don't know if you knew that he and his family lived across the street from me on Davie Drive. One time when we were in grade school, there was a bad snow storm and Gary's snow boots were by their garage door that was left open. I packed his snow boots full of snow before he was getting ready to go to school. When Gary found the boots packed with snow and I told him that I did it, he went inside the house and told his father what I did. Mr. Emrich came outside, shook his finger at me and rightfully scolded me for what I did. Mr. Emrich then told Gary to cross the street to where I lived and beat me up for what I did. Mr. Emrich told Gary that I was a "little runt" (which I was) and that Gary would have no problem whipping my butt (which was true). Gary had tears in his eyes and didn't want to fight and I didn't either. My mother was furious when she found out what I did. She made me apologize, which I did. She also put me on restrictions for a month. The restrictions entailed not being able to watch t.v. and not being able to play with the Lopez kids (Yolanda, Frank, Jessie), who lived a block away on Steven Drive. Mrs. Emrich and Gary accepted my apology and forgave me for my prank, but Mr. Emrich never forgot that situation and was always cold toward me clear up through high school when he was the shop teacher.