When we moved up to the junior high for seventh grade, I was assigned to a homeroom that was some kind of catch-all. While all my friends and the high achievers were in other homerooms, mine consisted of everyone repeating seventh grade, all the hard-core discipline cases, several precociously mature girls, and boys who appeared to have some kind of mental illness.

Our teacher, Miss Baxter, seemed ancient. She was very stout and walked with a limp. The rumor was that one winter she’d broken her ankle on school property and couldn’t be forced to retire.

She divided the boys from the girls. No other teacher did this in 1955. Maybe it was prudent, since the boys on our side of the room kept saying what they wanted to do to the girls on the other side. Miss Baxter’s moral vigilance extended to sending any girl to the restroom to…

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