Sunday, July 24, 2011

Notes to teacher paint picture of Depression Era Newport

"Take you a stick and give Clarence a good beating and he will mind you.
That all it takes to make him mind."
--Anonymous parent

This from the Enquirer:
NEWPORT - It began as a pet project, a labor of love to scan in all the wonderful hand-written notes that Linda Mitchell's mother had collected from students and their parents during her time as a teacher in Northern Kentucky.

The notes, now more than 70 years old and yellowing with time, explain - in a variety of ways - how and why the students had missed school during that Depression era. Mitchell's mother, third-grade teacher Victoria Schneider, taught at York Street School in Newport in 1937 when she was just 19. A graduate of Eastern Kentucky State Teachers College, Schneider kept all the notes, one of which read:

"Walter has been very sick with sore throat + toothache. i am not able to have his tooth pulled rite now or his Tonsils removed as my husband isint working study."

Mitchell, 61, wanted to do something more than just save her mother's notes. She decided to gather them into a book, which has become "Dear Miss Schneider, Please Excuse Walter . . .," released by Dog Ear publishing.

"As I started compiling them, I also came across photos from that time period as well as memorabilia from my mother's life in Newport," said Mitchell, who was born in Covington but now lives in Florida. "I decided to put it all together as a keepsake for my children and grandchildren. But as it came together, I felt that it was something others would enjoy."

Some of the letters went further than just giving an excuse. "Take you a stick and give Clarence a good beating and he will mind you. That all it takes to make him mind."

Mitchell says she never really saw herself as an author, though she has "dabbled in some poetry over the years" and currently writes "local interest stories for a newspaper in south Florida."

Mitchell's mother passed away in 2008 at the age of 90. Now her legacy will live on.

"In general it is a firsthand look into the lives of these families and how the Great Depression affected not only the adults but also these children," Mitchell said. "And how strong they were, how they coped. For older readers, it will bring back memories and their own stories. For the younger ones, it will give them insight into family life that they can't get from a history book."

And are there more books in Mitchell's future?

"Possibly," she said. "But the next one will be a children's book."

To find the book, visit, Barnes&, or locally at The Kentucky Haus, 411 E. 10th St., Newport.

No comments: