Friday, May 9, 2008

Remembering Mrs. Martin

The English classes at BHS would not have been as productive and we would not be as fortunate if it had not been for Mrs. Martin influencing us. We would not have a better appreciation for prose or poetry had she not taught us. Her easy class manner and a demand for excellence in learning was her major traits.

The video attached in this posting is not by any means professionally produced. However, it is of some quality in appearance, and immeasurably important due to the fact that we can see and hear her again now in the 21st century.

She will be speaking about Miss Jessie Archer, (left, at her millinery shop in photo above) a Baldwyn lady and writer of the poem "Nemo-Akim".

In the original video, Mrs. Martin reads the poem but this clip has been edited for length and does not contain that part. We wanted you to see the wonderful lady as she talked with so much eloquence. If you want, we can post the video of the poem at a later date. Meanwhile, it is posted in print elsewhere on this blog.

Please excuse the abrupt ending to the video. It had to be cut at a frame transition of the editing software. The ending words are "she had not been able to reproduce her notes".

* * * * *

The video was submitted by Dave Heflin. It was produced around 1981, with the help of Dr. Henry Outlaw and others at DSU. Edited and enhanced by Carl Houston (May 2008).


  1. Well you just can't beat this! She looks as I remember her last in the 1950's.
    She sure loved the poems and we would do a terrible job of reading them in class.

  2. I thought she was way above average as a teacher and was so knowledgeable about Literature. She was also genuinely concerned about every student, never being impatient with any of them and a good first lady for Sale when he was campaigning.

  3. Looks like she grew older gracefully. And didn't lose her sense of humor. Great lady and fine teacher.
    Thanks for the vid. A+

  4. Looks like she grew older gracefully. And didn't lose her sense of humor. Great lady and fine teacher.
    Thanks for the vid. A+

  5. Which was her grade to teach? Sixth, I wanna say. Probably English to several grades. I remember her hosting events in the auditorium, mostly.
    Later in my occupation, I installed air conditioning in her home in Wheeler.

  6. Mrs. Martin was my teacher when I entered the Prentiss county spelling bee that was held one Saturday in Booneville at one of the theaters. I came in second by misspelling the word "Monkeys" - I spelled it "ies". She gave me a fit about that for a long time. Every time I would see her after that she would make me spell it correctly.

    If I had known of "Po Monkey's" at the time I would have had the spelling correct!!

  7. Mrs Martin taught mostly the four grades of high school English. Now will someone please answer the most burning question of the 50's " If a girl really likes a guy, is it okay to kiss on the first date?"

  8. Anon 5:00PM;
    Of course it is!
    I have met a new girl in the Ritz theater and sat down, introduced myself, bought her some popcorn, and had her moved to the "dark corner" all in the space of an hour. Done that many times!

  9. Mrs. Martin was my parents' teacher at Wheeler, and my teacher at Baldwyn. When I moved to IL, my English teachers there told me I had a very good background in English. I give Mrs. Martin the credit for this.

  10. Thanks Dave, Carl and Henry for sharing this clip of my favorite teacher, brings back many happy memories.
    Mrs.Martin made this one country boy feel he could accomplish anything he wanted.....she had the ability to make me feel I was her favorite student.
    I also well remember her clear diction, as demonstrated by in the tape.
    Thanks, Mrs. MR Martin !
    BHS '60

  11. She also taught at Northeast I had her my freshman year in 1967.
    She taught my two brothers & sister in HS at Baldwyn. She was a dear lady.


  13. Mrs. Martin was a class act.
    Nothing else I can say but thanks to a great teacher.

  14. How can I get the video to copy to my computer drive? I want to save THIS!
    Or will it stay here permanently?
    Thanks so much.
    Earline Taft

  15. She gave bonus points to grades if you learned to enunciate better and communicate better during a semester.
    There were lots of ways to make her proud if you just put forth the effort.
    Awesome teaching ability.

  16. Earline, the video will stay on the blog. Copying to your computer can be done, I suggest downloading a free program Download Helper and using it.

  17. I couldn't let it slip by without also praising Ms Martin, too. She was an inspiration. She would give all us girls advice on growing up and how to beware of the dangers and pitfalls of life. Still remember some of her warnings and heed them today.

  18. Thank you so much for the article on Mrs. Martin. I have never forgotten her, just hadn't thought of her in a long time.
    I was surprised that the video had audio and I could hear her once again.

  19. I've been traveling outside the country the past few days, so I'm a little late in adding my tribute to Mrs. Martin. The poem below, written in London, appears in my book, Mind the Gap: Poems by an American in London. I wish that she had lived to know that I taught Shakespeare to students in London.


    —In memory of Ruth Martin

    I am seated, not for the first time,
    in the stalls of the Barbican Theatre
    viewing a performance
    of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

    But my other self sits years ago,
    across an ocean,
    in a high school English class
    in Baldwyn, Mississippi,
    where Mrs. Martin teaches Shakespeare
    to the unruly children of farmers,
    merchants, and factory workers.

    We have to answer roll
    with a quotation from Julius Caesar.
    I choose lines spoken by Caesar,
    which I can still recite these many years later
    and even as Bottom bounces
    about the stage in an ass’s head,
    a poor weaver loved by a fairy queen:
    Cowards die many times before their deaths;
    The valiant never taste of death but once.
    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
    It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
    Seeing that death, a necessary end,
    Will come when it will come.

    What could a high school sophomore
    know of cowards, heroes, death,
    and a stoical acceptance of necessity?

    What I did know
    was a small town teacher,
    a delicate, cultured, childless woman
    married to (so we children heard)
    an indifferent, alcoholic husband,
    with heroic dreams for her students:
    education, travel, success, fulfillment.
    Shakespeare was the poetry of her soul,
    a treasure not be hoarded,
    but shared with all.

    Ah, Bottom, what a dream
    you’ve been privileged to see.
    You have indeed been translated.
    And so have I. So have I.

    Robert Hamblin (Bobby)

  20. I agree with all the other posts about Mrs. Martin. Once when I was in the 9th or 10th grade I submitted an article for publication in a magazine. They rejected it (in hindsight it was awful) but I wanted to share my efforts with Mrs. Martin. She seemed genuinely interested and was sympathetic.