Daily Archives: November 2, 2011

Tokyo Rose

In my tale of Mr. Swartz I think I mentioned how all the loony teachers from our school district were put into the basket we called junior high.

I have come to realize that this assorted nut bowl was one of the first playgrounds on which I happily played twisted sister.  We called it “being a smart-ass”, and I was honing my skills on a regular basis.

My seventh grade math teacher was yet another victim of my evil mind, but really as you will see it was her own fault.


Her name was Mrs. Floro and she was of Japanese descent.  She spoke with a very thick accent and attempted to teach her unruly students the finer points of algebra.

What we really learned in that class were two things.

One, she had a temper and two, she was a thrower.

It was not easy understanding her when she was looking at us, let alone when she had her back to us.

We didn’t bother trying and instead amused ourselves…often loudly.

With her back turned to us as she wrote formulas on the blackboard we exchanged spitballs, notes and other projectiles across rows of desks paying absolutely no attention to her heavily-accented English.

This did not make her happy.

She’d invariably turn around just as someone let loose with a missile and would pick up one of the soft erasers off the chalkboard ledge hurling it at the offender with amazing force for someone who couldn’t have been five feet tall or weighed a hundred pounds, soaking wet..holding a bowling ball.

Her immediate response would be to turn back around and continue the “lesson” on the chalkboard.

Some math-geek would invariably ask a question – could they be actually trying to learn? – and she’d stop what she was doing and answer in Japanese-English.

I don’t think I understood two words that woman said.

Except “GET OUT!”

Yes, those words were always quite clear though never addressed at me.  They would get screamed at the last person to get on her last nerve that day – usually about ten minutes into an hour-long class – and it meant to go sit in the hall until class was over.

We rarely got sent to the office in those days.  Generally, we just got sent out to the hallway…I mean other people got sent to the hall, not me..well, except for this one time in English but it wasn’t my fault!

Not all my fault anyway…but, that’s another story for another day.

Since Mrs. Floro was Japanese we nicknamed her “Tokyo Rose”…now, before you get your knickers in a knot remember this was back in “the day” and we had no clue who or what the real Tokyo Rose was.  It was simply the first name that came to mind when someone said “Japanese”.  This was way before anime, or she might have been named Dragonballz or something.

She hated the moniker and rightfully so, but her red-faced reaction to hearing it was just fuel for our evil little fire.

Her temper was…well, it was hilarious to see someone so small lose it with such regularity.

It was also further fuel, but this fuel was strictly for enjoyment.  And every day we “enjoyed” it more and more.

Generally, I was not a participant in the shenanigans in class.

I was, however,  the observant type.

And, I observed Mrs. Floro go through an inordinate number of soft erasers.

She’d throw them, and then promptly forget about it.  I never saw her go looking for one or ask a student to hand it back.  She’d simply reach inside a desk drawer and get another.

This little fact set in motion the events that would lead to the perfect execution of our wicked plan.

My fellow minions students and I began collecting the thrown erasers on a daily basis. Of course, we had to make sure at least one of us angered her to the point of throwing one and counted as a banner day the day she threw three of them at us!  We’d squirrel them away in coat pockets, purses, whatever way we could and I collected them in a plastic bag hidden in my gym locker.

On “the” day, I passed out two of the erasers to each of my classmates during the five minute class changes we had leading up to Mrs. Floro’s  fifth period algebra.

A particularly evil clever classmate began putting the pressure on her almost the instant her back was turned to us that day. 

You could almost see the steam coming out of her ears each time she turned around to glare or yell at someone.

This was going to be an epic blow-up.


Finally, she reached her breaking point and grabbing an eraser turned to throw it at the offender.

He ducked and it hit the wall behind him with a thud, leaving a white outline of chalk.

She turned back around and at the silent count of three – by me – fifty erasers were launched in Mrs. Floro’s direction.

I had, during preparations, made it clear that no one was to actually aim for her but rather aim all around her.

Apparently, some of my fellow students were either hard of hearing, nearsighted or simply lousy aims.

Mrs. Floro’s back, her hair and the entire blackboard were at once covered in white chalk; and with that many hitting the solid surfaces at one time the room was filled with a soft white fog.

She turned around and looked at us.

We sat stock still, not moving and not speaking.  Desperate attempts not to laugh caused many a lip to bleed that day.

She blinked again and ran crying from the room.

The next day we had a substitute and heard that Mrs. Floro was on an extended leave of absence.

I never saw her again and none of us ever had to dodge the eraser-bullet again either.

It was her penchant for throwing those erasers that was her ultimate undoing.  And yes, sometimes they hit their mark…with force. 

So, you see what eventually happened to her really wasn’t my fault….much.  I was simply the instrument of doom justice in this case.

The Instrument of Doom Justice!