Miss Elma Florence Free
b. 17 Apr 1893 -
Juniata College, A.B., University of Michigan, M.A. Head of Language Department, Latin, S.P.Q.R. Latin Club
Sponsor, Junior Classical League Sponsor
Juniata College, A.B., University of Michigan, M.A.
Head of Language Department, Latin, S.P.Q.R. Latin Club Sponsor, Junior Classical League Sponsor
|1953 Anchor, p. 13||1956 Anchor, p. 10||1957 Anchor, p. 11||1959 Anchor, p. 46|
|"Left to right: Mrs. Margaret Parker, the French teacher; Miss Elma Free, the Latin teacher; and Miss Moneda Key, the Spanish teacher, make their courses more interesting by looking up information in the library."|
Our Class of 1960 has a yahoo group on
which we have had some interesting discussions
about times past. The currently running thread is classroom teachers who we remember.
The first three posts, one of which was mine, listed Miss Elma F. Free - Latin Teacher as the first
one that came to mind. We all remember her as being really old, but looking at her picture
in several yearbooks I am not sure that she was as old as we thought that she was. I have done
a number of internet searches trying to find anything out about her that might give a clue as to when
she was born - have found nothing. The only hit that I got for her was the photo on your website.
Do you have any idea how old she might have been?
- Al Simms ('60) of VA - 10/06/05
Hi, Al! I've noticed that phenomenon myself.
The older I grow, the younger all those teachers of yore seem
to become! GIGGLES!!!
First of all, I did not find her in the SSDI.
I don't know if this is the one, but this
Elma is 26 years old in 1920, i.e. born
in 1894 and listed as a high school teacher
in Huntington Town, PA; would have
been 64 years old in 1960. She is not listed in 1930 census (but her father and siblings are at the same 1920 address), which might indicate that she married, but then she would not have been named "Free" in 1960, unless she divorced and resumed her maiden name.
- Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 10/07/05
That break in time must have occurred when Miss Free was working on her master's degree at the University of Michigan.
Her final year of teaching was the 1959-1960 school year, as Miss Joan Brewer was the Latin teacher for the next term.
You seemed to have found the answer to Al Simms' ('60 - of
VA) question regarding Miss Free's
age. Here's a little ditty that students in her Latin class would say back in the fifties:
"Latin is a language, well, it used to be
It first killed the Romans and now its killing me!"
She was very formal in class, but she knew her "stuff" -- I wish that I could speak to and thank
so many teachers that touched my life while in school at NNHS. If only I had taken the time. If only . . .
- Kelly Loose Bustamante ('58) of VA - 10/07/05
the 1926 yearbook the "F" in Miss Free’s name stood for Florence.
She was Elma Florence Free.
Miss Free lived
on the northeast corner of West Avenue and 32nd
Street in the building that we
used to refer to as “The Women’s Club Building.” She had an apartment on the second floor.
At Christmas and during the summer she went to Pennsylvania. I used to collect her mail for her
while she was away. I lived very close by to her, half a block down 32nd Street between West Avenue
and the James River.
Boy, could Miss Free give a student a
look that just made you crumple and wither! One day in her Latin 1
class in ninth grade, about 2 minutes before the bell in E period, I started to put on my sweater, which was
draped over the back of my chair, to prepare for dismissal. We sat at tables in room 209. My seat was
at the middle table in the front, facing the windows. She stood at the front behind her desk and giving me
that look, she asked me in very certain and curt terms where did I think I was going. I didn’t have the nerve
to say a word, but I can tell you I did not do that again!
I tell you what though, I learned
Latin and to this day, some 50 years later, I remember a whole lot of what
I learned. We learned all the Latin mottoes, like tempus fugit, id est, sine qua non (which I love to use!),
quo vide, ad infinitum. At Christmas we sang “Adeste Fidelis.” We had to do projects. I remember doing a
layout of the Roman Forum on poster board and India Ink (remember India Ink and Epes Stationery Store?)
and writing to every state in the Union to ask for post card pictures of the state Capitol building to show the
influence of Roman architecture on our public buildings and mounting a display of my collection on poster
board. And I remember reading “Omnia Gallia in tres partes divisa est" in Latin 2. I still remember the ablative
and dative cases! And remember conjugating all those verbs and declining all those nouns!
(Patterson - '59) and I did a search on
Genealogy.com for Miss Free
under the name
of Elma Florence Free, which we got from the 1926 yearbook. One link led to another and this is what we found:
Social Security Death Index
The 1 name(s) below were found.
Last Names: F
Last Known Residence
Last Payment Location
17 Apr 1893
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania 16652
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- Aretie Gallins Paterson ('59)
of Northern VA - 10/07/05
WOWZERONI! Thanks, Aretie!
Ode to Plurals
If the plural of man is
always called men,
Then one may be that, and
three would be those,
We speak of a brother and also
Let's face it - English is a crazy language!
There is no egg in eggplant
nor ham in hamburger;
And why is it that writers
write but fingers don't fing,
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers
Sometimes I think all the
folks who grew up speaking English
In what other language
do people recite at a play
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of
And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come
Mother's not Mop?
- Jean Poole Burton ('64) of RI -
Thanks so much, Jean!
Miss Free used to read that to her
beginning Latin classes. She always taught us that Latin was an ordered language
that followed fixed rules. After trying to drum that into our heads for our
first three or four months, she would spring the "Ode to Plurals" on us out of
- Ron Miller ('59) of NC -
Thanks, Ron! Isn't that a great feeling to find something after forty-eleven years?!?
"Carpe Diem" wav
file (Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society) courtesy of
at the suggestion of my son, Nathaniel Harty of IL - 05/12/04
Image of Latin Books courtesy of http://www.coinbooks.org/club_nbs_types.html - 04/10/08
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