Monday, August 13, 2018

RIP Betty June Glass

Ms. Glass was my kindergarten and first grade teacher.  She taught me to read, a gift for life.  We stayed in touch, somehow.  I think that she - amazingly - remembered when I'd be graduating high school and sent me a card.  After that, I'd send her Christmas cards and postcards from my travels around the world.  She'd send me updates from the work that she did in retirement at the AIDS foundation.

Here's what I know about her life:  She was raised in the orphanage near our home, which was closed by the time I was a kid, but still standing.  (It is now replaced by homes, literally across the street from one I used to own (!) It was known as Homewood Terrace, run by the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum.  I found images here of what it looked like when she lived there.   She told me once that she did have parents, but that they turned her over to the orphanage... I'm not sure why, poverty issues, I suppose.  She wasn't close to them and did not have any siblings. She would have been there anytime between 1928 and 1946.  During that time, she attended Commodore Sloat Elementary school, Aptos Junior High School ('42?), and Lincoln High (class of '46?).  I don't know where she went to college - maybe SFSU?  There could have been another elementary school in there too - Commodore Sloat only went to third grade until 1976, when it expanded to fourth and then fifth in 1977.  Conveniently for me, Aptos became a Middle School in 1978.  A generation earlier though, for Miss Glass, I don't know...)  She never married and never shared stories of romantic interests or even close friendships.

She taught at Visitation Valley for 22 years and then at Commodore Sloat for 22 years.  She retired after a few years at Second Community Elementary School.  I believe that she focused on the younger grades throughout her career.  We called her "Miss Glass," but she told me that for most of her career, she was "BJ."

Her car was stolen in 1972 or 1973 and she never replaced it; from then on, she walked everywhere - from her Stonestown apartment complex all over town.  I used to see her in West Portal when I was growing up.  She lost most of her eyesight at some point and was legally blind for nearly the second half of her life.

I remember that she and my Mom organized a series of field trips during the summer between kindergarten and first grade.  Museums and Marine World; that's what I remember.  I also remember that she took a bunch of us to see ACT's "A Christmas Carol" and how special that was.

She was a huge Giants fan, season tickets.  When K was born, she sent her all sorts of Giants regalia - she's wearing the hat and jacket in the photo below when K was just two.  Miss Glass also walked all over town to every African American bookstore to find children's books that depicted African American characters.   I was always overwhelmed by her generosity - especially the time she invested in such thoughtfulness.

She met K when I was pregnant with G and told me "no Kindergarten teacher is going to know what to do with her intelligence.  You've got to homeschool her."  From that point, she started to send me books and other homeschooling resources.  Obviously, I followed her advice!

Shortly after G was born, I lost contact with Miss Glass.  I tried to contact her, but the phone number changed and I got no more cards.  She had told me when she was in her early 80s that her doctor said that she had a heart condition and wouldn't live past 85, so I sadly assumed that she had probably passed away.  I learned today that indeed she did, but later than I knew... in Dec 2016.  I'm sad not to have been in contact in her final years - I can only think that some disability befell her.  Without family... maybe that's why no caregiver could reach out.

I felt her presence at the Barry Bonds ceremony yesterday and told the girls everything I could think of about her.  I know that she was there cheering too!  One of the last gifts that we got from her was a "Pitch to Barry" t-shirt.  It came with a note for K that said, "this is my favorite t-shirt.  Now it is yours."  K wore it until she outgrew it, then pinned it to the wall above her bed.  It only came down briefly yesterday, so that G could wear it to the game.

RIP Miss Glass and thank you for all of your gifts of inspiration and thoughtfulness, which continue to enrich our lives and our family.

She sent me this picture of her a few years ago, saying that she knit her own sweater and hat and that this was only one of two times in her life that she ever saw snow.  She dated it late 60s-early 70s.

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