Fond memories of Jane Barnard
Editors note: Betty Briggs Ebersold flew from Florida to celebrate Jane Barnard’s 100th birthday. While she was in the area, she saw the Owl story by Renee Thornton and asked that we send along our Jane Barnard follow up. Along with that request, she also shared some of her own memories and reflections about her friend and teacher.
Getting to the party —
When I heard about Jane Barnard’s Birthday Party, I immediately booked a flight from Florida. In the meantime, I wrote Jane a letter to share with her how much she meant to me and to say I was flying up. Later, Jane told me how much that letter meant to her.
The trip turned into quite an experience. The day before the party, I flew to Rochester. Then the catastrophic snowstorm hit. It was almost comical that there was the possibility I would have to tell Jane, “I made it from Florida to Rochester but can’t make it to your party. At the Rochester hotel, I awoke the day of the party to the news reporting a State of Emergency and Travel Advisory. It looked bad. My plan was to take the hotel shuttle back to the airport and rent a car for the day to drive to Honeoye. Then I would fly back to Florida the next day.
From the hotel window I could see there was almost no traffic but roads did look passable. Still uncertain, I decided that I would take the shuttle to the airport and, if the roads looked safe, I would continue with my plan. If not, I would just fly back to Florida.
As it turned out, I did get to the party but I would not have if the conditions were any worse. When Mrs. Barnard saw me, her reaction was worth every penny.
She was my 1st and 2nd grade teacher—
‘Back then’, First and Second Grades were so small that they were held in the same classroom. Our class only had 6 students, 5 girls and one boy. Mrs. Barnard has always stood out in my life as one of the rare friends / teacher that one never forgets. My precious memories of her have never faded.
I have lived in Florida for many years, but have often seen Mrs. Barnard, once almost every year. What is most amazing about her is her memory and her commitment to students, to making sure they knew they were special. My Birthday is February 29. Most people don’t ‘get it’; that it only comes on the calendar every four years so I only get a ‘real’ Birthday every 4 years. Of course every year was special, but for us Leap Year People, the ‘real’ birthday is extra special.
When I turned 4 and had my first real Birthday, I got my picture in the paper. Same for my second birthday. Throughout my life, being a Leap Year Person has given me many special opportunities. What was so amazing about Mrs. Barnard, even if I didn’t see her for years, every time we’d meet she would say, “Oh, you get a Real Birthday this year”, or “You don’t get a birthday for 2 years”.
In my letter to Mrs. Barnard, I shared with her some of the special stories that her other students have shared with me.