Thursday, August 25, 2016 – Pick up Your Class Schedule in Mr. Lyon’s Office. Or Girls Don’t Take Physics!
The way back school bus takes us back to August 1966 to Magnolia High School, Magnolia, Texas.
To register for your classes at MHS one stopped by Mr. Lyon’s office and picked up the class schedule he had prepared for you. When you walked in he handed you a form that listed (in cursive handwriting) what classes you would take. Mine looked something like:
Homemaking IV – Brown
Civics – Forgot the coach’s name
Typing II – Traugh
Bookkeeping – Coach Jackson
Shorthand – Graves
English IV – Traugh
Band – Ayers.
As Paul Harvey used to say “And now the rest of the story.”
I stared at the classes listed. Mr. Lyon asked “Is something wrong?” To this day I get a lump in my throat same as the day 50 years ago when I timidly replied “I want to take Mr. Michael’s physics class.”
Mr. L. – Why? Girls don’t take or need physics. You will be better served taking girl type classes like bookkeeping, typing and shorthand. Why on earth would you want to take physics?
Me: (Stammering and about to throw up) – I like science. I am going to college and want to be a doctor and I think physics might be more helpful.
Mr. L – (Smiling) – No, girls do not need math or physics.
I held back the tears until I walked out of his office and down the hallway passed Mr. Michael’s classroom. By the time I was over the little steps, to my house and almost to my room I was in full fledge teenage girl hysterical mode. My mother was right behind me.
Mama: What’s wrong?
Me: Mr. Lyon will not let me take physics!
Mama: Why not?
Me: Because I am a girl!
I doubt Mama even knew what physics was. All she knew was that the Princess was not getting to do something she wanted to do. Within minutes she had changed from her duster, changed from her house shoes into real shoes and she and I were headed over the little steps and back to Mr. L’s office.
I have no recollection of the discussion – only the result.
Mr. L – OK, Delia, you can take physics if you get another girl to take it with you and you have to go across the hall and tell Celeste why you are not taking her shorthand class. Sidebar: I can still see and hear Celeste say “What do you mean, Rosie, you are not taking my shorthand class?” That was scarier than Mr. Lyon and my mother made me go alone to tell her. FYI – Only Celeste is allowed to call me Rosie.
The other girl? Molly Harper who BTW did take Celeste’s shorthand class.
Today I look back and remember Molly and the two of us taking physics together. I realize just how gifted and talented Molly was. We would have made a great Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper – the experimental physicist and the theoretical physicist. This is in spite of the fact the other five or six people in the physics class usually sabotaged our experiments. They shall remain nameless, but had last names that rhymed with: Lyon, Dean, Glass, Glass, and Clark.
Mr. Lyon – up there in Principal Heaven – I would go on to take three college level physics courses – 3 hours shy from a minor. One of my professors was female. I did become a doctor, but not the kind that gives shots – the kind I originally want to be. I am the kind that reads and writes.
When I relate this story to great nieces and other young girls, they stare at me in disbelief. This is not to be confused with great nephew # 3 – Conroe High Graduating Class of 2017. He picked up a CD in my car one day and asked “What is Motown?” I cannot begin to describe the look of disbelief on his face when I said “At one time black and white people did not listen to the same type of music. Motown changed all of that.”
The years 1966 and 1967. “ For the times they were a changin.” Even in Magnolia, Texas. We are now at your bus stop. Step off carefully.