BY-WAYS - 12/12/40 - Teacher, Mr. Cotton - Sunday, Dec. 1

The best teacher in our Junior Department in Sunday school has wondrous ways of holding the interest and enthusiasm of his boys. He happens to be a Boy Scout leader; he sends these boys messages about the lesson in code; they are expected to reply in kind. At the beginning of the year they start on an imaginary trip around the world. In order to "circumnavigate the globe" they must make a certain port each Sunday. If a boy is absent, or has failed to prepare his lesson, he has hard work catching up with his ship. How those boys work - to keep with the crew! At the present time his boys are corresponding with a class of boys in Alaska, and have raised money to send these Alaskan boys each a good harmonica. In return, their northern "brothers" have sent them miniature totem poles and special maps. Let it be understood that Mr. Cotton does not sacrifice the Bible lesson to these other interests. He makes real and vital the supreme command that Jesus left with us, "Love thy neighbor." I know what an inspiring teacher he is, for Charlie was privileged to be in his class two years ago. "Cotton" may be a soft name, but Lee Cotton is as self-disciplined and dynamic as Admiral Byrd. Mrs. Cotton tells me that he reserves Saturday night religiously for his boys; in self-defense she began teaching this year - and has learned what a glorious experience it can be.

Monday. - There has been a noticeable show of brotherly love around this house lately. The boys have been exceptionally nice to their sister lately - less crabbing about running errands, etc. But it all came out this morning. She has a "job," with what seems to them a fabulous income; so they suggested sweetly that she ought to make a pretty nice Santa Claus this year. Oh, dear! How are my head and heart going to hold all the Christmas secrets? ***The flute, the clarinet, the 'cello are still with us; but since Estelle once threatened violent insanity, her father (the 'cellist) sees to it that not more than two instruments are going through, at once, the agonies of being practiced upon. Garrulous Virgil, Jr., the flutist, announced this morning, in a sonorous voice, "I am about to play so-and-so. I expect you all to listen with awe." "Ah, nuts," was Charlie's inelegant reply.

Tuesday. - The night of the church dinner for the teachers and officers of the Sunday school. As usual, I did some last-minute grumbling about having to prepare a dinner at home before I could go out and enjoy someone else's cooking. Felt ashamed afterward. The meal was so much nicer than the one I had prepared. Our church dinners are regularly 40c; but as a nice gesture to the hard-working teachers, we always have reduced rates. The social committee has novel ways of determining these fees; a percentage of one's weight; the number of letters in your name (you may be sure I leave out the Burlingame); in deference to us oldsters they haven't made us pay according to our years. But this time the plan was quite different. We guessed how many teaspoons of coffee were in the cup at the ticket desk. You paid whatever you guessed; if you guessed correctly, your money was refunded. There were no "heels," who guessed "1" or "2," as some wag suggested. Another Florence and I were lucky, with a guess of "26." As Tizzy Lish would say, isn't that ducky? After dinner we had a marvelous speaker, a Moslem, turned Christian, who is now a teacher in a Cleveland religious college. He gave the most vivid word-picture of the Holy Land that I have ever heard. Later we had departmental conferences, to discuss our individual teaching problems.

Wednesday. - Report card day. Virgil Jr. comes home enveloped in gloom. He moans, "Women! women! The 'Lady of the Lake' dragged me down in English. Look at that 'C'."

Thursday. - Our old dramatic club invited Virgil and me to their December meeting. Two good one-act plays were presented; the first, a Christmas play. "Dust of the Road;" the second, "Why I Am a Bachelor." A delightful contrast. A Christmas party followed. There we heard the best pun of the week. A friendly guest, in being introduced to Carl Hurd, inquired, "Which 'herd' do you belong to?"

Friday. - Charlie played in a band concert at his school. His proud parents were there - and thought the music was grand, even if we couldn't see our little half-pint. The director is a fine one - even if he is a sour-puss. A typical remark of his, when he wants a child to play alone, "Let's hear your distress signal."

Saturday. - I went Christmas shopping - in a conservative sort of way. But, oh, the whole world seemed filled with the Christmas spirit! I could write a whole column just about the happy and spontaneous experiences of today. Why can't people carry that spirit through the whole year? This is the season when we love to give. Would you like me to give you another story next week? With every good wish for this Christmas season.

Your friend,
Florence B. Taylor

Next -That Was Yesterday. Today is Christmas.