I remember Tonettes very well! Ahhhh, those made some melodic
sounds!!! Only kidding! Are those things still in the
universe? They looked like a dark gray sweet potato with holes in the
sides. We would sit at our desks and attempt to play a tune, together, as
we were directed. Those must have been our first introduction to
something, that hopefully, would lead to a band or orchestra instrument.
My husband jokingly said, "Music really went down-hill after Tonettes were
no longer a part of our lives." He had them in Kewanee, Il. too. And
I thought they were restricted to Lexington!
The previously mentioned Marilou Edwards, Big City girl, had one
Mine was brown or I should say "ours". It was a family
one. My brother and I both used it and I assume my sister did also.
Guess family germs are OK - don't remember it being germ proofed.
Okay - I think I'm getting the hang of this. You brought up Tonettes and
Miss Mautino, and I do remember both well, though not in connection with each
I went to Central School, and on Fridays we had what was called
'platoon day'. The teachers would all swap classes, and we would get a
taste of the Fine Arts (and I use the term loosely), rather than study the usual
Three Rs. Mrs. Gruber was the music teacher on those days. (She had a nice
voice, and would set Middle C for us with a harmonica).
And, we also learned to play the Tonette on platoon days. My
'visual' recollection puts me in the room where I attended 3rd and 4th grades,
taught by Mary Jane Torrence (later Mrs. Jack Baker). The Tonettes were
simple, black wind instruments, and we learned the notes by covering certain
combinations of holes with our fingers. It was a slimmer version of the ocarina,
or 'sweet potato'. She would just bring in a boxful of them, and we'd each
take one and cut loose, and sometimes all even play the same note. Now, if you
tell me that the Tonettes were a singing group of girls over at Arnold School,
forget what I have just said, and
clue us all in. That is my memory of
But, I could just about write a book on Miss Mautino, and I did enjoy her
classes, and her. For some reason, something funny was always happening in
there; but, you never knew just how it was going to turn out, because she
usually just 'reacted' quickly to whatever it was. Sometimes that was crying -
sometimes a trip to the office for somebody. Once, she even ran into the room
and climbed up on her chair, because there was a mouse loose in the hall. They
just don't make teachers like
that anymore, do they?
And Lucia's mention of her 'reaching into her bra to retrieve a hankie' set
off a rash of memories of her for me. One in particular was an incident
that I was in the big-middle of, and I'll never forget how she handled that one,
(bless her heart)!
Since he probably grew up to be a solid citizen, I'll not mention the name
of 'the boy' involved here. But, I do believe his reputation for mischief had
preceded him from Catholic School, and Miss Mautino had assigned him a seat
right beside her desk, where she could keep a close eye on him.
On this day, she was nowhere in sight; and, as I started into the
classroom, this boy was 'flicking' the rear of every girl that walked by his
convenient location, with a quick snap of his fingers. It didn't take long to
figure out what was causing all the laughter going on in there!
Well, now - he hadn't missed a one, and I was next. So, I lodged
my books in my left arm, and got ready with the right to give him back more than
he gave. Sure enough, I felt the sting, and simultaneously swung my right
arm to where I knew his head was. And, I did connect with a backhand! His
reactions were pretty fast, though, and he dodged the brunt of the blow - but,
those combined efforts sent both him and his desk out into the doorway, and
right at the feet of ...........Miss
I froze in my tracks when she slammed her hands on her hips, and said,
"Okay - what's going on in here?!" Standing there like I was, I
couldn't very well deny any involvement in the activity, so I took the
initiative and said, "Well, Miss Mautino, I just thought somebody should
teach him to keep his hands off the girls." Without
any further questioning, she simply said, "Hit him again!!!
I didn't - but, I was very grateful that she sized up the situation so
quickly, and ended up giving us the biggest laugh of all. I do not
remember her being unduly harsh on anyone - she was just handling the challenge
of being 'a teacher'. I doubt that she received an extra nickel for all
those Minstrel shows she took on and brought to fruition. But, didn't we have
fun? I can even remember singing in one of them - "Ain't We Got
I wrote back
that I remember every word of that song. Plus I have a Miss Mautino memory of a
similar nature. I wouldn't print it, but Barbara insisted that if I print hers,
I should also print mine. The name of the guilty will be
For some reason
this classmate and I were having a dispute in the hall outside her door. It was
good natured until he said something that struck me wrong. I whipped off my
loafer and heaved it at him. It happened to catch him, heel side, on the eyebrow
and probably smarted quite a bit. All I know is that I saw real red-faced fury
coming towards me. I literally threw myself into Miss Mautino's arms, and she
told him to go put cold water on his face and calm down. Five minutes later it
was forgotten, whatever the fight was about, and he and I were fine again. But I
never forgot the haven of Miss M's arms.
The story isn't
particularly funny, but this is the kind of thing that sparks others to remember
something similar, so don't let me down, people!
I'll try to
send along the photo of the Tonette, separately, to jog more
Next up -
Loretta Gueguen Broker:
contributed for quite a while, but have been recalling more bits and pieces of
my childhood memories in Lexington, so thought I would share and see if it
triggers others on the same topics.
We had a
mother who wanted her Gueguen girls (alias Solid Sisters) to be schooled in the
fine arts of tap-dancing, ballet and acrobatics, so we faithfully enrolled in
classes taught by a very patient woman, Miss Todd? Anyway, I still have the
costumes our dear Mother made for our recitals--glued sequins on satin or
netting. Can't find my tap shoes though--and I was gonna try them
again!! I know lots of other girls (we weren't "modern" enough
for any boys to dare enroll.) were in our classes and recitals, too, in
the old auditorium. Let's hear from you. That was such an important
building in my upbringing. What's become of it anyway? (Ed - It's been restored,
ceiling repaired, floor refinished, new grand curtain, new window curtains, new
bathrooms, etc - and more to come!)
After one particular recital, I remember our family walking down to Walker's
Drugstore and sitting in those neat "ice cream parlor" chairs and
having a sundae.
effort to "educate" us in all of the arts, we girls took piano
lessons. I remember walking over to Franklin Street and up a bunch of stairs to
our piano teacher (name?) (Ed - Mrs.
All of us
girls took lessons, but it only "took" with Mary Pat. However, to the
chagrin of my siblings, I played "Tales of Hoffman" and
"Unchained Melody" over and over; apparently the only songs I could
get the hang of.
mentioned all of the old public grade schools, but I don't recall memories of
the old Catholic grade school. Whenever I talk to my residents at the
nursing home I work at about their one-room schoolhouses, I proudly say that I
went to a 3-room one. First, second and third in one room taught by one
teacher; fourth, fifth and sixth in another; and the seventh and eighth were
upstairs with a partial kitchen. Mom always loved telling me that she was
in the first graduating class after that school was built, and it was torn down
after her last child (me) graduated. Ah, what history! How I
remember playing "pom-pom-polaway" (spelling?) running from one
fence to the other at the ends of the playground. And remember those
end of the school year picnics at Central Park???
hearing from everyone. My opinion of publishing a book is, it's a
ought to give you something to chew on for a while. (No reference to the gum
Your devoted scribe,