My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

June 18, 19, 20:  These days are filled with uneventful proceedings not worth mentioning.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Occasionally I miss the obvious, and this is one of those times. I recently realized that I knew one of Grandma’s friends in the diary (Blanche Bryson) when I was a child!

Since Grandma didn’t write anything specific for a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share that story with you.

Yesterday I shared information that Blanche Bryson’s daughter Jane Shuman, daughter Pam Cooper, and granddaughter-in-law Janet Shuman gave me about Blanche and her sister Margaret. Blanche’s married name was Kramm, and Janet wrote in an email:

“Grammie Kramm was 74 when I met her & still substitute teaching at Warrior Run in 1966.”

And, it was like . . . Whoa, my 4th grade teacher missed a lot of school, and for much of that year I had a long-term substitute named Mrs. Kramm. . . Blanche Bryson Kramm.

Mrs. Kramm would have been in her early 70s when I had her as a teacher, but she still had lots of enthusiasm, loved working with children, and knew how to engage them in learning.

I’m sure that Mrs. Kramm did a superb job teaching us reading and math, but–and this might sound silly, but I mean it in the nicest way– what I remember best about Mrs. Kramm is how she taught me to tear paper in a straight line without using scissors.

Let me explain—

During the time period when Mrs. Kramm was our substitute, there was a school program or assembly. Our class sang a song about popsicles and we held “popsicles” that we made out of Crayola crayon boxes that we attached a popsicle stick to and then covered with brown construction paper. (We made chocolate popsicles).

The music teacher had selected the song, and my classmates and I thought that making fake popsicle props was a bit babyish for us fourth graders.

Mrs. Kramm, however, decided that it was a wonderful project for fourth graders—if we learned how to tear paper neatly without using scissors.

I remember folding brown construction paper back and forth a couple times—and trying to tear. Oops—the tear veered off at a strange angle. . . .

I don’t remember many sheets of paper I ruined, but I do remember the pride I felt when I successfully tore a straight line. (It’s really easy, but it seemed hard back then.)

Fast forward to today— Every time I neatly tear a coupon out of a flyer at the grocery store, or tear off a registration form at the bottom of a larger sheet of paper, I think of Mrs. Kramm. . . aka Blanche Bryson Kramm.

36 Responses

  1. Since I am an educator, I really love this story. I also have memories of substitute teachers. Especially since I lived in a small town and we usually would know whoever would substitute. They were usually the parent of someone we knew :-).

    Tearing paper is a very valuable skill. To me it is all about managing the tension of the paper.

    • In small towns the teachers and substitutes often are people whose lives are often closely intertwined with the place where they teach.

  2. A wonderful memory and a great story. I remember one of my teachers very fondly for the sewing projects she gave us. She was a substitute teacher too. I didn’t have anyone teach me how to tear paper but that would have been a fun lesson.

  3. neat how that comes together sometimes — your memories and that of your grandmother’s diary

  4. This was fun to read. How nice that you realized you knew one of your Grandma’s childhood friends!

  5. I love how you share your grandmothers words and tie them in to your own memories.

  6. I love that you were able to make the connection and that you have that very cool memory!

    • It was wonderful to be able to make this connection. It makes me wonder if there are other connections that I should be making.

  7. What an awesome story! Most of us know way more people than we think and a lot of them are connected to others we know (6 degrees of separation) In today’s world, with the internet and increased travel, I’m sure it’s more like 2 or 3 degrees of separation. I wonder if you and I are connected and if so, by how many degrees…

  8. I was touched by your story, memory, and childhood pride in learning to tear paper in a straight line. A beautiful story lovingly told. Also, although your grandmother is sometimes brief in her entries, I like the language she uses: “uneventful proceedings.” I daresay, today, not many would use the word proceedings in everyday conversation, but I like the sound of it, something elegant in its formality.

    • I hadn’t thought about it until you mentioned it, but you’re right that she used formal, academic language. Maybe she dreamed of being part of important events and happenings.

  9. That’s a wonderful story. I think it is hard to tear paper in a straight line.

    • I’m pretty good at it. I think that the key is to fold the paper back and forth lots of times before attempting to tear it.

  10. What a fun story and memory, thank you for sharing!

  11. It is interesting that you actually knew your grandmothers friend.

    • Maybe it means that I’m getting older when I can remember people who were in their teens and early twenties a hundred years ago.

  12. What a wonderful story! So nice that you linked it together. I had a similar epiphany today, so I know how good it feels. Light bulb going off and all that.

  13. That is a great story, Sheryl!

  14. That…is just too cool.
    I learned that trick (actually I learned it in third or fourth grade too), but I got it from classmates who told me to lick the edge. It’s gross, haha, but it does make for a neat line!

  15. Mrs. Kramm sounds like she would’ve been my kind of teacher. Kids need a little whimsy and fun, no matter what grade level.

  16. Oh, I love this memory! Blanche certainly did not plan that lesson with the intention to be remembered for the rest of your life. But she obviously planned to give you a skill you could truly use, and must have taught it with patience and respect for your ability to learn. God bless Mrs. Kramm and all teachers!

  17. […] My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm […]

  18. […] My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm […]

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