Thursday, April 3, 2008


The title of this post (borrowed from the musical Bye Bye Birdie) is as relevant today as it was back in 1960. I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the news about that bunch of third graders in Georgia who hatched a plan to attack and/or kill their teacher. They collected all the implements they figured they’d require, and even delegated a post-crime clean up. These kids are obviously watching Grissom and his CSI team when they should be playing regular video games (Grand Theft Auto?) like most kids do before bed. Anyway, it got me thinking about my own grade school days. How simple and safe life was back then! We would never in a million years have thought of assaulting a teach…wait a minute…. My friends, I must confess I recall that when I was in single digits, not very much older than those Georgia students, some kids in my school did have a plot involving "knocking off" a teacher.

In my school we had a weekly class period called “Auditorium” (because that’s where it was held) which was a kind of catchall. We would see black and white “instructional” films, and every December we’d watch Shirley Temple in “Heidi.” We might also have an assembly. And for a short while the teacher taught us Spanish, until for some reason the school made her stop. To this day I still remember chanting “los dias de la semana son…” And I also remember how we plotted against this teacher.

Mrs. M. was a very dignified lady, always impeccably dressed, with bleach-blond hair, which she wore swept severely back in a popular style of the day, called a bun. That term alone was pretty funny to all us kids. But rumor had it that Mrs. M’s bun was fake. To a youngster in the 50s, the only thing funnier than a teacher with a bun was a teacher with a fake bun. A bun hairstyle is basically a ponytail that is not allowed to “sway with a wiggle.” Instead, it’s teased and smoothed into a kind of rounded poofy shape at the back of the head. Then the ends are tucked up under and secured with hairpins. It really can look a lot like a dinner roll. Mrs. M’s bun (even now, I want to giggle) was smoothed and anchored into Tipi Hedren-perfection. But…was it real? There was a lot of speculation about this bun, and there was only one way to find out. Some of the guys (egged on by the girls) came up with a plan, whereby as the rush of students jostled their way into the auditorium, someone would “accidentally” elbow Mrs. M. in the back of the head, the theory being that if her bun was indeed a fake, it would fly off, and thus expose the ruse. Every week for a while we were all on high bun alert. The whole school was electrified, thinking this might be the day! Oh the anticipation, the whispers, the craning necks!

It never happened. The guys always chickened out at the last minute. Even if Mrs. M. had fake hair, she was still a teacher, and a person to treat with some deference. I’m sure our plot just seemed like too “violent” an act. Just as well – none of the boys at that age were tall enough yet to have an elbow in accidental bun range anyway.

Today’s musical feature is an appropriate little number by The Playmates, on the charts in 1959. Let’s dedicate it to Mrs. M.

Photo - this is a later model of the bun (no where near as smooth as teacher's!) It's more of a twist and tuck, similar to Carrie Fisher's double Danish style as Princess Leia in Star Wars.

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