This is my second year working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I have enjoyed writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.
Picking a topic for “surprise” was a matter of searching the word in my RootsMagic program. Some of the hits pertained to elopements of young people who “surprised” family and friends by getting married. Other hits pertained to deaths, where the timing was imminent so people “weren’t surprised” by the death.
|My grandmother, Anna Sullivan Hork|
I did find the newspaper article from the Napa Register discussing the Parent Teacher Association awarding Honorary Life Membership to Mrs. Ann Hork in 1957.
Honorary Life Membership in the Parent-Teacher Association was awarded to Mrs. Ann Hork, former Napa teacher at a recent meeting in the Williams School in Concord. The principal of the school, who made the presentation, is also a former Napan and member of a prominent Wooden Valley family, Robert White. Mrs. Hork has been teaching in Concord since leaving Napa in 1949. She was given the honor in view of her "outstanding achievements in work with children above and beyond the call of duty." The program was arranged along the lines of the popular "This is Your Life," and Mrs. Hork's children were all brought secretly to the meeting as a surprise to her. They include Mrs. Eugene Soares of San Francisco, Mrs. John Gertridge of San Mateo, Miss Lorene Hork of San Francisco, and William Hork of Concord. Many of Mrs. Hork's former students here will agree that she is one of the most deserving to receive the honorary award."
Not only was this clipping among my grandmother’s possessions, she also had a copy of the speech that Principle Robert White gave.
"The recipient of this award was born in a small town in one of our Rocky Mountain States more than 50 years ago. She was the youngest of five children. She showed a marked interest in Sports as a child and cut quite a swathe in her community as an ice skater and basketball player. In fact while getting her training at Normal school she was a member of the pennant winning girls basketball team. She decided to become a teacher and like many others accepted as her first assignment a teaching position in a one teacher school in a small community where todays modern facilities were unknown. Baths taken in washbowls and "chick Sales" type lavatories were the order of the day.
“Following several years of teaching she married, resigned and began raising a family. A few years later the family migrated to Southern California. In 1937 circumstances necessitated her resuming the role of wage earner and bread-winner for her three daughters and son. During the next 10 years her varied roles included that of soda fountain manager, cafeteria manager, and during the war years of 1941-43 that of wine maker for a large Southern California winery. She resumed her teaching career in Napa county in 1943. Following six years in rural schools there, she moved to Concord, accepting her present position at Williams School, where she has worked continuously for the past eight years.
“Her work as a teacher has been outstanding. Her quiet, soft spoken manner; plus a sound knowledge of children and teaching techniques has endeared her to children, parents, and fellow teachers alike. In addition to the enviable record as a teacher, and despite the fact that she has been the sole support of her family for many years, my candidate has found the opportunity, even at times to the detriment of her own health, to work actively with children in the community. She has spent at least 15 years teaching church doctrines to boys and girls of her faith, as well as serving as a much admired counselor and advisor to adults and children alike. It gives me great pleasure to present to you Mrs. Anne Hork as recipient of the Honorary Life Membership Award for outstanding service to children in our community."
Some of the facts for her timeline are incorrect, but as a whole, I’m happy to have this copy of the speech. It’s great to know how she was appreciated by her colleagues and students. What I would love and haven't found yet, is a copy of the class photos from the time she was at Williams School. The Concord Historical Society might have some, but their archives is currently in storage awaiting the completion of their new archives.
By the time I was in school, she was retired, though she may have done some substitute teaching, and she taught CCD classes at St. Peter Martyr Church in Pittsburg. Since I attended the parochial school, I never had my grandmother as a teacher. However, she had a collection of readers. She read lots of books to us, as well as taught us many songs, which we often sang while washing dishes. That made the time go by fast!
This grandmother, my Nana, was the fun grandmother, who was very comfortable around children. She knew how to speak to them, make them laugh, and have us feel loved.
 Lucy Case, “Over the Gate…,” Napa Register, 1957 (day and month unk). A hand-written note written on the clipping said “from Napa Register 1957.
 Written at the top of this type-written essay was “Williams School June 1957” and below “Principal Robert White.”
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