"Kewpie of the Month" for March/April 2006
Ann Lowrance - Class of 1956
Father showed me my first cadaver when I was seven. I didn’t expect any less from a medical school professor father who spoke medicalese to small children. You’d think with all that I would have had a head start on becoming a nurse, but I didn’t do guts, blood or pus.
I did love music, and started singing in the third grade. By sixth grade, I was playing the clarinet, and in ninth grade I started the oboe and began my almost five years with Stephens’ Burrall Symphony Orchestra. Added to performances at school, it was definitely overkill.
But I fooled everyone including myself, and never became a full time musician. I’d seen too many married bassoon players asking single flutists for dates and I didn’t want the lifestyle. But I did keep on singing. I gave my oboe back to Stephens College and thought about religious education or home economics. Obnoxiously undecided, I finally settled on Spanish at MU because I had more hours in it on my Christian College transcript. I asked Johnny Crane what I should do with it since I had sworn off teaching, and he suggested being a translator in an import-export house. I didn’t even know where one was. By then I was married to Jack Hamilton and lived too far away anyway. So after my B.A. at MU, I became a part time waitress for a few months. Friends said it at least kept me from roaming the streets and annoying people.
Then I became a florist at Mueller’s while Jack was serving his six months in the Army. A Neosho teacher spied me decorating a wedding table and said they needed a Spanish teacher at his high school. Mumbling to myself, I hastily took some education classes so I could get the job, and started off on the long education career I had just sworn off of.
Not much later, I was shucking out babies like peas, helping Jack run our newly bought greenhouse and flower shop in Joplin, and eyeing the chance to get back into education. Four years later, my request to be a substitute teacher in Joplin turned into a Dean of Girls job at the high school. They were desperate. They would have hired anyone who smelled good and had on a nice dress. I was an idiot with no training for it, but it was the perfect fit. I counseled misbehaving girls, monitored the daily attendance for over 1,000 of them, and chased graffiti monsters and fire dragons out of the restrooms.
After that, I knew I was destined to become a counselor/administrator combination, an unheard of concept due to the difference in training. I started graduate work in secondary school administration at MU, and after getting my Master’s, became Assistant to the Dean of Students at my alma mater, now Columbia College. I taught education classes, dealt with men sneaking into women’s dorms, went on drug raids and supervised the work-aid program.
I went from there to Assistant Principal at Neosho High School where I got out my tracing paper and copied all the graffiti from the bathroom walls and sent it around to the English teachers for identification. I also accidentally locked the band teacher in the boys’ bathroom. Don’t ask. On the side, I went back to school for about the sixth time and finished all but my dissertation, heading for a doctorate in educational administration. Then I started taking counseling courses.
In 1976, Jack and I were divorced and later I married Jack Allman, Superintendent of Schools in Joplin. Three months later, my ex-husband married my sister Janet. Our three boys contemplated calling him “Uncle Dad.” I didn’t know what to call my new brother-in-law, nor my sister, who was also my children’s aunt as well as their stepmother. So we all just stayed friends. Finally Jack and I left his three college age boys behind and loaded up my three, our two dogs, and all our possessions and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina to take over jobs in the American Community School as Superintendent and Director of Guidance. Then I found out that Argentine Spanish wasn’t the same as mine. When I asked for three pineapples, they told me I was asking for three punches in the nose. My secretary asked me to please not use the word “mujer” (woman) when speaking about patrons, because a “mujer” was a prostitute. When I gave a speech in Spanish to the elementary school faculty, thinking I was telling them what a good man my husband was, I found out later that I was lauding his virility. Back in the States, I taught Spanish in high school for six more years – in Ava, MO and in McDonald County. When they threatened to make me teach German by satellite without knowing a word of it, I and my new counselor certification escaped to Missouri Southern State College (now University) in Joplin. I stayed for fifteen wonderful years as counselor and career / academic advisor for people who didn’t give a rip about mujeres, pineapples, or how virile my husband was. Some just wanted me to teach them something during my nighttime Scared-Spitless-Older-Adults Orientation and Career Classes, so they wouldn’t feel so dumb in regular classes later.
While there, thanks to encouragement and support from my husband who got his Ed.D. at age 49, I finally wrote my dissertation. I received the same Ed.D. in 1994, at age 56, twenty-two years after I started it. Don’t ask about that either. My grandchildren were in the audience yelling, “Yeah, Grandma!” as I walked across the stage. I was thankful my MU advisor knew better than some of his colleagues, who put hoods on upside down with the pointy end running up their advisees’ noses.
Jack retired in 1990 from his final job as Superintendent in McDonald County, and I retired from MSSC in 2003, as an associate professor, when I could finally get Medicare. I’m currently writing my memoirs, better named, misadventures, and naming names. I’ve already had to change half of them. The only ones I don’t have to worry about are my older relatives who are all dead and can’t squawk about what I say about them. At least no one has reported seeing any of their names on bathroom walls.
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