We were nine, and our 1961 longish-term substitute teacher, Miss Foxton, was a platinum blonde with red eyes. She breathed fire, but fire of such subarctic cold as to fast-freeze me and any other kid within range. She was probably beautiful in a Hitchcockian ice-maiden way. Kenny and I hated her guts because she would occasionally, just out of spite, make us sing O Canada a cappella in front of the class, and made great sport of measuring us to see who was that week’s shortest kid in the class.
So we went to see the Mayor, to suggest that he have her removed or at least severely disciplined. We were ushered into the office of an impressive-looking man in a suit. Of course my big brother told me later that this wasn’t the mayor, but a mid-level functionary, possibly a traffic engineer. Whoever he was, he listened politely for ten minutes, gave us each a dime for a Coke, and promised to do what he could about the Foxton problem. Good enough! We had our Cokes from Mr Schulz’s scary corner store next door, and then played chicken with the oncoming traffic, leaping at the very last second into the four foot snowdrift at the side of the road. Possibly Mr Mid-Level witnessed this from his office window, and phoned the school in horror. Or possibly not. But the fact remains that Miss Foxton disappeared just days later, and we were back in the loving embrace of the benign and divine Mrs Underhill. We didn’t behave suicidally for weeks!
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