Why I can’t play piano

I just decided today that I can’t play piano because of my first-grade teacher’s southern accent.

For my first few days in the first-grade classroom of Miss Margaret Mackintosh at Mount Vernon Goodwin Elementary School in Raleigh, NC, in 1957, I was puzzled by the kids who left the classroom at odd times during the day to take Miss Margaret “out.”

I couldn’t understand why Miss Margaret would need little kids to take her out, presumably to dinner. I was even more puzzled because Miss Margaret did not go with them on these mysterious excursions. How could they take Miss Margaret out when she didn’t even go with them?

Later I learned I had been the victim of a linguistic difference between Miss Margaret and the dialect I learned at home. Miss Margaret was not in fact asking to be taken to dinner. She was inviting students to take piano, which she pronounced as “pee-ann-uh.”

Unfortunately, the piano-lessons boat had already left the dock, and I had missed my opportunity.

AB — 10 Sept., 2009

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2 thoughts on “Why I can’t play piano

  1. Joyce

    I also had Miss Margaret as a first grade teacher in 1963. A wonderful lady who visited each one of us at home and took pictures of us with our pets. She gave each of us a scrapbook at the end of the year filled with our best work.

  2. quriosity

    Joyce — Thanks so much for leaving your comment. Linguistic differences aside, Miss Margaret was a wonderful teacher. I still have a collection of photos taken that year in her class. She was my only teacher who ever did that. The last time I saw her was in the Colonial Store in Cameron Village when I was a teenager in the 1960s.

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