St. Paul’s Methodist Nursery School Director (1956), Mrs. Chitimba

25 Jun


Those of you who know me know that I grew up in the church, but you might not know that I attended nursery school here in 1956 and 1957. I am sixty-three going on sixty-four and that means that I was in at the beginning. Two of the other children were Susie Geer, Elaine’s sister, and one of the Rossiter boys, a brother-in-law of Christine Stockwell, who was in my carpool. The snacks were different back then, mostly grapefruit juice and Ritz crackers. There were more wooden and metal toys, but fewer plastic. We did a lot of finger painting on paper that looked like butcher block paper and we painted on easels in old white shirts of our fathers’. Play-Doh came out in 1956 and became one of the playthings in our nursery school. A record player was provided that played yellow vinyl records. One was the “The Farmer in the Dell.” We had a fire escape that we went down to get to the yard and then used to get back up again. I remember there were about twenty of us and we acted like any three-year-olds

The reason I wanted to speak to you is because I wanted to tell you about the director, Mrs. Chitimba. Academics usually leave a paper trail, but I’m not able to start one because I don’t know the exact spelling of her name. She was one of the best-looking women I have ever encountered. She was a tall woman from India with perfect facial features, and black hair to her shoulders, a somewhat liberal cut for an Indian woman at that time. Her saris gave her a touch of elegance. She had a bindi on her forehead, that red mark that signifies that the woman is Hindu, married, and of an upper caste. I remember how confident she was and that she laughed a lot. She probably had assistants, but her force field was so strong that I don’t remember them. She and her husband were only here for several years, which means that he was most likely a Cornell graduate student, and she probably already had a degree.

I have an image of her that has stuck with me–she is standing on the fire escape, looking down at us in the backyard., as the wind lifts her sari. She would be in her eighties now; possibly she is no longer living, but I wish I could find out more about her. Little girls always look up to women who have their act together and she belonged in that category.





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