Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers

Check out more slices at Two Writing Teachers

Have you ever had a number jump out at you and take you back to a place from your past?

Last week as I headed for my home (away from home), I passed a gas station and noted that the price of gas had risen during the day. Seeing that price made me gnash my teeth, because I needed gas and it had jumped twenty-three cents from the morning. However, it wasn’t the actual price of gas that made me gasp, but the numbers 314 (yes, there was a decimal in there).

Immediately I was back in my French teacher’s classroom. This was his room number. I could clearly see the the windows that belonged to his room. I could see the staircase I climbed for four years to enter his room. I could hear his voice, “Bonjour, mademoiselle. Dites-moi que chose intéressant.” (Tell me something interesting.) This was the standard greeting every day. Of course, I had to have something ready to share (in French). Often I struggled to find something he would deem interesting. He was not a teacher I wanted to disappoint.

Ask me what room number was my English class. I have no clue. I can’t even recall what floor the class was on. The same is true for all classes. How odd that this one number has stayed with me over forty years and every time I see it, it takes me back to high school.

Perhaps it was because it was a room I visited every day for four years. Or could it be that I looked forward to this class (most of the time)? Mr. Bowman (I still can’t call him by any other name) required a book report by a French author every quarter. He let me fall in love with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Three Musketeers, and The Count of Monte Cristo, but the best was Les Miserables. I have never read The Little Prince in English (I suppose I should). Le Petit Prince sent me on a journey to see a baobab tree (which I saw in awe in Singapore). I was immersed in all things French for fifty minutes a day. It became my goal to visit the Louvre, see the Arc d’Triomphe, and savor the impressionist paintings at the d’Orsay. Mr. Bowman made it sound magical. And it was. But I’m still ready to head back to France and discover more.

The number 314 means so much more to me than just a number. It has the power to take me back many (should I say many, many?) years.

25 thoughts on “314

  1. Amazing, isn’t it, all the things that trigger the stories of our lives? I hope Mr. Bowman is still alive and can somehow read this post…As a teacher, these are definitely the kinds of stories I hope my students tell about me!

  2. My mother and her sister used to call the home they grew up in “1804” because of the address. Later my mother referred to our house as “4216.” I have not carried on that tradition. but this brought back those memories. And also French memories, too. After 5 years of French (also “many (should I say many, many?) years” ago), I used the think and even dream in French. But I haven’t done that for a long time. Wonder how quickly it would come back? Aussi – Oui, Le Petit Prince – tres bon (bonne?)!! Merci!

  3. Some numbers do that for me too. I’ve never thought about writing about it before. LOVE THIS IDEA!

    Thanks for sharing a look back with us.

    May I use this post as one of my 31 inspirations for Slicers during the March Challenge? (I’m linking to a different slice of life story every day during the month of March.) If that’s okay, would you mind emailing me at stacey {at} staceyshubitz {dot} com? THANKS!

  4. You’ve sparked some number memories for me too! Mrs. Dinsmore and Mrs. Massaro were my French teachers. I took all the French that my high school offered, and finally made it to Paris in my 5th decade. What a wonderful experience it was!

  5. Judy C. says:

    Wonderful memories, a great teacher and a number, what better slice could you write? Isn’t it funny how our minds work and what can trigger our memories. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  6. I love it when the unexpected memory comes flooding back. Thanks for sharing yours today. I don’t have a number that I remember but a teacher. He was my orchestra teacher from 4th-12th grade. There are songs that bring me back to those days, certain sights that take me back to our trips, etc. Always a pleasure to revisit the good memories of our past…through music or number, it doesn’t matter how we get there.

  7. Tam says:

    Not so much a number for me, but a French/Latin teacher who pushed me from 7th-12th grade with both languages. I loved the classes and owe my knowledge of words because of him. Thanks for bringing back my memories.

  8. The number that transported me back in time was the number 23 – the increase in gas prices. When I first started driving that is about what I paid for a gallon of gas. Oh for those days.

  9. “Tell me something interesting.” Love that greeting!
    Somehow the “boa qui a mange une elephant” isn’t as funny in English. I just recently re-read Le Petit Prince but in English and it has so many wonderful lessons. So happy a number inspired such a great memory. 🙂

  10. I too have read Le Petit Prince in my high school French class. Amazing how that room number stuck with you all these years.
    Funny, true story – for some reason I still remember my phone number from my child and teen years. And one day after teaching for quite a number of years in Wisconsin and then returning to live in my hometown area…maybe 20… I looked at an emergency card for one of my first graders, and her home phone number was my old number! Such a weird feeling!

  11. I love how that one number transported you (and now us) back to those days. I first read THE LITTLE PRINCE in English and it was what inspired me to study French. I wanted to read it in its original language. I never progressed far enough in French to really read LE PETIT PRINCE, but I would sit with my English and French copies side by side and make my way through them.

  12. As Bernadette said, lemonade out of lemons! You’ve also made a wonderful moment out of a number. So interesting. Songs take me back and pictures but a number… This teacher sounds quite wonderful, what a lifelong gift he gave.

  13. Très belle, Elsie! I too read and spoke French for all those years in high school, & I still remember the teacher and the room, but not a number. I love how the brain works, your ‘314’ stuck so solidly in that long term memory, & your teacher sounds terrific. We only read a few short stories, didn’t read others until college. Merci beaucoup pour votre mots!

  14. Jaana says:

    I don’t remember any of my classroom numbers (not sure if they even had numbers). What I remember are the bus numbers that took me to school, both in Finland and in Taiwan. It was fun to read your memories of your French class. It is one language I have never even attempted to learn, but I would like to visit the places you mentioned. Maybe one day….

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