Miss Elma Florence Free

b. 17 Apr 1893 - PA
d. Mar 1984 - Huntingdon, PA

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."    
10/07/05 05/18/04 10/07/05 10/07/05

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
Thanks, Al!

Hi, Al!  I've noticed that phenomenon myself.  The older I grow, the younger all those teachers of yore seem to become!  GIGGLES!!!  
I spotted your note on one of those "quick checks" I was running long after "my turn" was over, so I sent it off to the Magic Man himself, Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA, who seems to be able to find anything and anyone.  Nevertheless, his speed astonished even I who am so accustomed to it.

1920 Census

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
Thanks, Dave!
10/07/05 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
Thanks, Kelly!

According to 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!

John (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 Search Results
Search Again

The 1 name(s) below were found.

Last Names: F







Last Known Residence

Last Payment Location





17 Apr 1893 

Mar 1984 


Huntingdon, Pennsylvania 16652 


Write It

© Copyright 1996-2003, Genealogy.com, LLC. All rights reserved.

- Aretie Gallins Paterson ('59) of Northern VA - 10/07/05
WOWZERONI!  Thanks, Aretie!

Ode to Plurals

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

 If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

  Let's face it - English is a crazy language!

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple. 
English muffins weren't invented in England. 
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.


And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. 
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,
what do you call it?

  If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? 

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

 In what other language do people recite at a play
and play at a recital?  We ship by truck but send cargo by ship. 
We have noses that run and feet that smell. 
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

  You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns down,
in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

  And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

- Jean Poole Burton ('64) of RI - 12/10/07
Thanks so much, Jean!

As someone mentioned recently in this newsletter, a casual mention of something can bring back some memories. So, many, many thanks
to Jean Poole Burton ('64) of RI for the "Ode to Plurals"!! I have been wanting to find that ever since taking first-year Latin.

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 the blue,
and that would really reinforce her point, showing us how insane English can be.

She had us in stitches, reading it to us in an obviously dramatic, over-acting fashion. I'm not sure now how much of our laughter was due
to the words of the ode, or how much due to her hamming things up a little, since that silliness seemed so out of character for her.
In any case, that lesson has stood the test of time!

- Ron Miller ('59) of NC - 12/18/07
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 http://www.geocities.com/aaronbcaldwell/DeadP.html,
at the suggestion of my son, Nathaniel Harty of IL - 05/12/04
Thanks, Nathaniel!

Image of Latin Books courtesy of http://www.coinbooks.org/club_nbs_types.html - 04/10/08

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