We were the first girls' Shop class ever at Deepwater Junior High. Ever. Let me repeat:
It was 1973. I was trying to recover from my first (and only) 'C' on a report card (7th grade Sewing. ugh.) and jumped on this chance to regain my dignity as well as be part of the Women's Movement and Deepwater Junior High Equal Rights History.
I don't think he was thrilled about the idea. He was old school, gruff and cynical. Girls didn't belong in Shop Class.
But how could he resist us, a bunch of giggly fourteen-year-old girls who were eager to learn, followed directions (most of the time), asked for what we needed sweetly, and who buttered him up like a hot biscuit?
He ended up loving us, of course.
What do I remember about that class? I can see the big, round, communal sink - the first ever I'd seen like that, where you turn it on with your feet (because your hands were dirty, duh!) I can see the sled we made for the Christmas food drive - it brought home 1st place! I hear the radio playing...I think it's Alice Cooper singing School's Out...
I think we were the only class who got to listen to the radio. How cool was that? (At least that's what he told us...)
I see us crowded into a smaller room, learning about drafting...designing our wood-working project. I made a set of shelves (they're hanging in TG's bathroom right now, covered in dried rosebuds) and a wooden cross. It's tucked away in a box somewhere. I think I'll search for it this weekend.
We also sat in that room to watch Shop Safety Films, the black and white ones from the 50's and 60's that always ended with at least a finger being cut off by a table saw. Sometimes it was an arm, with great special effects like blood squirting! At least that's what I remember...maybe time has embellished it a bit, but I do know we loved watching those films.
I see myself wielding my future shelves on the jig saw, trying to follow the lines I'd drawn on the wood...I see myself sanding, sanding, sanding...I see Mr. McGhee moving from girl to girl, patiently offering advice, knowing when to step in and when to stay back...
He also taught us how to work with leather - we made leather belts...the cool ones with silver loops on the sides, leather wrist bands stamped with our names...hot stuff in '73. I still have my belt somewhere...probably wherever that cross is stashed.
I made straight A's in Shop. Dignity and self-confidence recovered, wonderful memories made, lots and lots learned about life, people, but mostly myself.
Thank you, Mr. McGhee, and rest in peace, knowing you will never be forgotten.