11/19/2014 10:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Witches Were Sometimes Year-Round


I remember Miss Mary Marshall very well.

She was my third grade teacher at Cloverdale Elementary School in Dothan, Alabama in about 1964. Miss Marshall had never married and her general countenance was unfortunate... mostly due to her disposition than her actual features, but I remember the first time that I saw The Wizard of Oz that I thought she looked just like Almira Gulch (The Wicked Witch of the West).

As soon as I saw the movie I insisted we buy the LP album (if you don't know what this is, you are too young to matter).

Anyway, I had listened to the album over and over... and one fine day, Miss Marshall had announced that she was going to the office and for every one of us to be perfectly quiet, PERFECTLY QUIET, do you hear me?... and do our work until she came back.

She was gone for a while, and at some point I felt called to make the remark that she acted a lot like the Wicked Witch and that we should all do the song... you know, where you go, "Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh Nuh, Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh Nuh, Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh Nuh, Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh-Na-Nuh-Nuh-Naaaaah" endlessly.

To make sure everyone could learn properly, I stood in the seat of my desk as I lead the chorus. Well we all had a fine time doing this when all of a sudden there was a voice on the intercom. It was Almira Gulch, asking me to join her in the office. She had gone down there, turned on the listening part of the intercom, setting my trap.

Even though I had been 'Little Mr. Peanut' at the State Peanut Festival and had ridden through downtown Dothan in an open convertible with George 'Goober' Lindsey, tossing roasted peanuts to the crowd (the boiled ones tended to stick to people), I was not given the slightest bit of leniency from The Wicked Witch of the West nor her sister, the principal, that one from the East.

Even considering the punishment, which was swift and harsh, I recall feeling very pleased with myself... and still do.