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 thoughts on “My Memories of Blanche Bryson Kramm

  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.

    1. 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.

    1. I also surprised how things sometimes come together. Sometimes I think that perhaps a hundred years ago really wasn’t that long ago–

  3. 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…

    1. Interesting thought. . . Does commenting on each other’s blogs give us a direct connection? . . or doesn’t that count when figuring out degrees of separation?

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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!

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