The Bingity – Bangity School Bus

October 03, 2012 | | Comments 0

By Ray Holt, Graduate Student, University of Mississippi,  October 2, 2012
Tribute to:  Miss Marjorie Bell, Ulysses Grade School
2nd grade teacher
, Ulysses KS, 1952

Miss Marjorie Bell was my 2nd grade teacher at the then Ulysses Grade School. I remember the very large brick building as if it were yesterday.  I remember Miss Bell as a young girl in her mid-20’s.  She was cheerful, had a great smile and as a young boy, I found her to be very pretty.

My father was an Okie itinerant welder and pipe-fitter.  Five of us lived in a 17’ trailer. We moved around often to states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Every once in a while we would stay in California.  Usually we moved every few months so my stays at elementary schools were short.  My sister who is 2 years older went to14 elementary schools, I went to six.

I had spent my Kindergarten days in Amarillo, TX, my 1st grade year in Liberal, KS, and when it came time to start 2nd grade we were in Ulysses, KS.  I have strong memories of our trailer park in Ulysses, KS and my 2nd grade teacher Miss Bell.   My slow learning ability was very much affected by our moving, not having longtime friends, and not having any kind of study discipline.

During my time with Miss Bell we seemed to ‘hit it off’ quite well.  I believe she took me under her wing as a challenge. I remember her constantly encouraging me in everything I did with many positive comments.  I am sure not all of them were deserved but they were welcomed.  I was always excited to attend school and tried hard to please her.

She had a practice to ask students to bring in their favorite book and she would read the book to the class. She even would have us sit on a chair next to her in front of the class as she read. This made me feel like the ‘king of the class’. She clearly enjoyed my book and even read it several times.  She even asked if she could keep it in her classroom. (possibly for another class but I am not sure).  I was extremely pleased and encouraged that she liked reading my book.  I do not remember many Christmas gifts during those years but this book was one and it was my pride and joy.  Having Miss Bell make such a big deal of my book really helped my confidence as a young boy. In fact, it literally became a huge factor the rest of my life.

I spent at least three months in Miss Bell’s class.  One morning I woke up and the trailer was moving … we were driving to California.  I asked what happened and where we were going?  During the night my father heard of a new job in California, hitched up the trailer at night, and off we went.  I slept through it all.  I remember my reaction was near horror. I remember saying “Miss Bell has my book”.  It was a horrible feeling to not say good-bye to her and to leave my favorite book behind.  My mother assured me, after days of crying, that Miss Bell would treasure the book and put it to good use. Over the years of my life this alone was a satisfying thought.  Miss Bell left me with an extremely strong positive image of encouragement.

The name of the book was “The Bingity – Bangity School Bus”.  A cute story of a ‘down and out’ school bus.  Probably close to how I felt as a young student.  I never did want to replace the book as there was only one treasured copy.  A few years ago a close friend of mine, after hearing this story, bought me a copy of the 1st edition of the book.

California was where we stayed for the rest of my student life.  I did struggle as a student but always during my times of trial (mostly reading and English) I would remember Miss Bell and how she encouraged me to keep going and to never stop.  She taught me I can do anything if I really wanted to.  It is quite amazing how much of an impact such a teacher can have on ones entire life; as a young person and adult.

Let me just say that my high school, college, and career pursuits were pushed along by Miss Bell’s constant encouragement in my mind. I certainly do give her a lot of credit for my successes. This should be obvious since I am writing about her.

I ended up as a computer designer and was able to be one of the pioneering designers for the small, personal computer industry( reference: ).  I would personally take time to encourage every elementary teacher I knew to treat their struggling students like I was treated and told them about Miss Bell.

About five years ago I was living in Oklahoma and decided to pursue teaching computers in high school. I found an opening in Syracuse, KS, north of Ulysses, KS.  The principal asked me “Why would I consider Syracuse?”  My response was “It was in Ulysses that I received my greatest encouragement as a student and I would like to try to give that back to other students.” I did not get the job but it made me think that I really needed to try to find the family of Miss Bell and to tell them this story.

I have no idea if Miss Bell is still alive.  If she was it would mean a lot for me to personally thank her.  I would like to say to her family, she was a “giant” and “great” teacher in my life and I am very sure without her positive influence I would not have nearly the success in my career that I have had.  Even now as I pursue teaching, her ability to encourage her students is a strong foundational factor in my teaching style.  Often on the Internet when I create passwords and answer the security question “What was the name of your favorite teacher?” … the answer is always Bell.

I hope in some way this tribute would give Miss Marjorie Bell greater honor than what she has already earned.  I am sure I am not alone and I am pleased to have been her student and to have been influenced by such an influential teacher.

Filed Under: ExperienceGeneral Education

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