Word came from my mom recently that my kindergarten teacher had died. Norwood is a small town where everyone knows everybody and Mrs. Paris was a legend, who touched many lives in her 96 years.
Mrs. Paris made an inedible impression on me, and many of the other Callahan School students whose first experience away from their parents was this attractive teacher who drove a bright red Ford Mustang. Yes, I said attractive. My buddy Kevin Sullivan and I still remember the slight crush we had on her, as we did on our first grade teacher as well. Were we weird kids? Don’t answer. This was a perfectly normal reaction Mrs. Paris triggered in her male students. Connecticut Mirror reporter Mark Pazniokas also grew up in Norwood and we joked on Face the State once about that first woman after our moms who captured our hearts, Betty Paris. As David Lee Roth would say, we were “hot for teacher.” Our appreciation and fond memories of this very influential woman remains with us today.
My mom had seen her around town from time to time and so about five or 10 years ago I gave Mrs. Paris a call. She instantly broke into a song that brought me back to kindergarten. In fact after she died, her great-granddaughter told me she used to sing that song to her as well.
I don’t have any pictures of me with Mrs. Paris, from that pre-iPhone era, but her great-granddaughter sent me a few photos from the Betty Paris collection featuring some other alumni. For the rest of us, we will just have memories of a sweet, kind, teacher who held our hands and guided us into the real world.