Growing Up in Mount Dora in the 1950’s & 1960’s – by Judi Phillips Jones (Part 2)

My first school in Mount Dora was later called Roseborough Elementary School. Now, a portion of the old school is the Montessori at Roseborough School.  It is on the corner of Clayton Street and 5th Ave.  In 1954 it was the Mount Dora Elementary and High School (grades 1-12) and the property had several buildings from 5th to 7th Ave.  The play ground and football field were on the other side of 7th Ave running from Clayton to Highland.  Mr. Roseborough was the Principal.

I was an 8 year-old 3rd grader transferring from Kansas City, Kansas.  Although I was ahead in math and several other subjects, I was behind in language.  The Kansas schools did not introduce cursive writing until the 3rd grade, so I had not yet been exposed to it.  Mount Dora began teaching cursive in the 2nd grade.  I was placed in Mrs. Anna Rae Straight’s combined class.  That year she was teaching 2nd grade on one side of the room while teaching 3rd grade on the other side.  Best thing that could have happened to me!  I sat with my fellow 3rd graders until time for language, then I moved across the room and sat with the 2nd graders to do the cursive exercises.

Judi Phillips Jones, Grade 3
Judi Phillips Jones, Third Grade

I was the tallest girl in the class with long thick black braids and bangs. Years later I found out that the kids thought I was an  Native American Princess because I came from Kansas, had “Indian” braids, and was taller than everyone else.

I had neither loved nor hated school before moving to Mount Dora.  I didn’t mind it much, but it never inspired me, either. The academics were easy for me and somewhat boring.  That all changed when I met Mrs. Straight!  She was wonderful and kind, as well as encouraging.  She found out that during my afternoons playing alone at the Grand View Hotel I entertained the staff by making up “shows” with puppets I made from whatever I could find.  Mrs. Straight encouraged me to perform one of my “shows” for the class.  It was my first public speaking appearance and I LOVED it.  I would say, looking back, that it was pivotal part of my development.  Developing a love of speaking before a group has always served me well.

The other valuable contribution to my self-image that Mrs. Straight was responsible for, was outside the classroom.  Once a week, my sister stayed after school for some activity (I don’t recall what it was) and I had to remain in class until she was done so we could walk home together.  I was not allowed to leave the school without her.  Mrs. Straight’s daughter, Sue, was in kindergarten and came to her mother’s class everyday after school waiting to go home with her.  On the days I had to stay late, Mrs. Straight would let me take Sue to the school playground and play, trusting that I would look out for her and keep her safe.  As the youngest in my family I had never had responsibility for a younger child.  I found out that I was very good at both entertaining Sue and watching out for her.  These kinds of events build a child’s self-esteem.

I have always been grateful that I didn’t know cursive when I moved to Mount Dora.

Thank You Mrs. Straight.