There were some things in it that I knew about her.
I knew that she was a devoted and well-loved first grade teacher.
I didn't know that she taught for over 35 years.
I didn't know that she was the president of the Rye Teachers Association.
I have a vague memory of doing grave rubbings with her.
I didn't know she did that as part of a big Thanksgiving-focused unit. Every year.
We lived in one of the first towns settled on the east coast (1660).
It has the Square House, which at one point was the local inn, and "George Washington and Lafayette slept there!"
I didn't know that Doris Delfosse was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, or that she volunteered to share American history and early American homemaking skills at the Square House.
And I really didn't know that Mrs. Delfosse, herself, created an important part of American history, and opened the door for women who came after her.
Here's why reading obituaries can be so enlightening. From the obituary:
"was the first working woman 'allowed' to adopt a child in the state of California in 1966, after proving to the adoption agency and courts that a woman could indeed work and raise a family."
That's right. Doris Delfosse loved teaching--and children--so much, that she went to court to force the system to allow her to adopt, because she wanted to keep working. She didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom, she wanted to be a teacher and a mom.
[This reminds me a bit of a case that is coming shortly to the Supreme Court--the case of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse--expanding the idea of who is a "fit" parent.]
Here's something I remember about Mrs. Delfosse's class. If we got in line to go somewhere (perhaps a special, like art or gym) and then we had to wait for some reason, she kept us occupied by having us imagine that our tongue was a person with jobs to do, like sweeping the ceiling and the floor of our mouths (with our tongue). Nowadays they are called "oral motor exercises," and I imagine that she learned them while working with kids with speech delays--but we just thought they were fun.
Here's to you, Mrs. Delfosse--thanks for your devotion to kids.
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