On this particular day, Miss Hearn had set fire to my brother Mickey’s imagination…but he had trouble spelling.

“Alright boys and girls,” Miss Hearn announced as she walked into her fourth grade classroom.

“Today, I want each of you to write a poem…a four-lined poem.”

Immediately hands went up.

“What can we write about, Miss Hearn?” several asked.

“Anything you wish,” answered Miss Hearn, as she sat down at her desk smiling at the faces of her fourth grade English class in Jenny Lind Grade School…and Miss Hearn tells his story…

“Up went Mickey’s hand,” Miss Hearn said.

“How do you spell Hearn?”

H-E-A-R-N, she wrote on the blackboard.

Mickey dropped his head, and wetting the end of his pencil, he bit his lower lip, and started to write.

Moments later, his hand went up again.

“What now, Mickey?”

“How do you spell violets?”

Miss Hearn wrote the word violets on the blackboard.

By now Mickey had picked up pace and continued to write.

With a look of satisfaction on his face, he raised his hand one more time.


“How do you spell polecat, Miss Hearn?

Miss Hearn knew what this fourth grader…this poet…was composing, and she turned her back to the class, and smiling, she wrote the word polecat on the blackboard.

With confidence, Mickey finished his masterpiece, gave Miss Hearn a broad smile, folded his paper, and proudly handed it to her.

He had written, “Roses are red, violets are blue, polecat stinks and so do you. To Miss Hearn.”

“Of course,” she said

“Other children wrote the same little poem, but the girls changed a few words…Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and so are you.”

Miss Hearn never forgot this. She laughed and said, “Your brother Mickey was such a cute little boy, and he had the prettiest hair.”

I agreed.

“He really hasn’t changed much, Miss Hearn,” I told her “Of course his hair’s not blonde anymore.”

In Memory of Mickey

This true story about my brother…Mickey, as told to me by Miss Iva Lee Hearn…his teacher, ran in the Gazzette Journal several years ago.

When Miss Hearn told the story to me, she said,

“I probably have that little poem “tucked” away somewhere. When I find it, I’ll give it to you.”

Well, one day Miss Hearn called to tell me she had found it and asked for my address. She put it in the mail. The next day it arrived. I was thrilled! I made copies and sent to Mickey’s two daughters as valentines.

After my few moments of thoughts and smiles while reading the short poem on the yellowed piece of notepaper, I called and thanked Miss Hearn. It was a work of art!

There was one thing that i had trouble understanding though. After all the help Mickey had gotten from Miss Hearn with his poor spelling, he continued to make mistakes. He spelled the word violets…VILOS, and the word blue, he spelled BULE. At the top of the page he had written Jenny Lind, Ark. spelling Jenny…JINNY. See why I smiled so big when I read it?

Mickey was always a “bad” speller, but such a cute little boy.