02 September 2011

Sepia Saturday 90: Francis Leda Stratton

Falling Out
The Sepia Saturday theme this week is little girls, Spain, or holidays. I've always wanted to go to Spain but haven't yet made it.  So, I'm picking up on the theme of girls with these two young girls who appear to have been captured for all eternity in the middle of an argument.

Frances Leda "Auntie Leda" Stratton (1878-1973) is on the right with an unknown friend. This expression must have been invaluable in controlling her first grade classes!  No doubt, they also hung their heads in contrition.

"Everyone knew her as Auntie Leda and remembered her fondly as their first grade teacher.  'Come, come, little folks,' she'd say, clapping her hands briskly, "do be quiet for me now."  The children almost always would.

Small and wiry, she never tired.  Was one secret of her patience her constant knitting?  She never dropped a stitch while closely eyeing the blackboard and her pupils.  Generations later, newcomers to the town objected to the practice.  Former students who recalled their kind teacher with the clicking needles and large class were annoyed by the criticism.

Miss Stratton taught until she was 84.  Her record of 63 years of continuous teaching stood as a national record.  When applying for social security in 1963, she discovered that she was still listed as "Baby Stratton" in the Lee records.  The town clerk then added her name, Frances Leda.  (Her birth in 1878 was premature, and for weeks her parents had feared to name her.)

Until she was 90 Auntie Leda shopped downstreet, a birdlike figure who darted in and out of the supermarket aisles, chatting with her former pupils.  She had cared for at least 2,200 children."

Consolati, Florence.  See all the People.  Lee: self-published, 1978.

This is just one of several photos posted as part of Sepia Saturday.  See Sepia Saturday and click on the links to other blogs to see more.


  1. Leda seems to be waiting for an apology from her friend here. What an expressive photo. She is an inspiration.

  2. She sounds a real character, though I don't think she'd have survived for long in a modern classroom. That photograph tells so much more of a story than an artificially studio posed one. What an excellent prompt for one of Miss Stratton's creative writing classes it would be.

  3. That's a wonderful photograph, and a marvellous character sketch, thank you.

  4. That is such an interesting photo, and she sounds like quite a character.

  5. By all accounts, she was an amazing lady.

    I have been somewhat curious by the outdoors pose in this photograph. It seems unusual for the time.

  6. They certainly do not look thrilled with each other at that moment. Nice picture.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  7. My first school teacher had a similar style, 'Come along children; please be quiet and settle down.' She taught me to read and write ensuring that I did all the corrections.
    Auntie Leda's expression says it all, the school mistress was there already.

  8. The do look as though they've fallen out! It was wonderful that she managed to keep working to such an age.

  9. She worked until her youngest grand-nephew graduated from the first grade!

  10. wow!!
    that was not a job to her,
    that was a vocation!!
    great post on baby Stratton!
    i still remember my first grade teacher:
    SISTER JEANNE LAGACEE!! (sisters of St-Anne)
    she looked stern but she was kind and patient.
    except for slapping my fingers with her pen when i made mistakes.... it was 1967!!

  11. For some reason she makes me think of Anne of Green Gables. I'm imagining auburn hair and a quick smile.

  12. Definitely a quick smile! Anne of Green Gables is on my reading list. I'll let you know if the characters match. :)

  13. I've never read the books, but I remember the series when it was on I guess in the 1990s. It was pure magic.

  14. Wow ... what a cool blog you have here. I am your newest follower and will place you on my sidebar.

    I loved your photo of the girls, and the story about your aunt ... how wonderful that she taught for all those years and was in good health for so long. This whole post was great.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to visit last week!

    Kathy M.


Comments welcome!