Siri’s Serious Spelling Snafus

I learned to spell in elementary school and continued my learning through the rigorous spelling tests that carried over into my high school days. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Nichols in Emmett’s Wardwell School, promised to buy a nickel ice cream cone for the whole class if 100 percent of us received a 100 percent on our spelling tests just one day. With a class of thirty kids, that would have been a buck fifty, a lot of money in those days. I worked hard at my spelling lists, and on the last day of school, one time, we all were licking ice cream cones. I had mint chocolate chip, which was a new flavor at the local Albertsons ice cream counter.


Spelling was so important that Emmett’s Junior High School dedicated one whole teacher, Miss Graham, to teach spelling, and she taught spelling all day long. It must have been a very boring job, but she reigned queen in the land of alphabet organization and made us think that perfect spelling would improve our chances of being perfect people. She held a spelling bee every now and then and I won once but lost to my friend John the next time.

But now, my spelling teacher is named Siri and she doesn’t know shinola about spelling and is even, as I write today, drawing a wiggly red line under the word shinola, which I know for a fact to be a brand of primo shoe polish. She mixes up words like there,their, and they’re, and can’t figure out the difference between here and hear or whether the name Kathryn should be spelled Catherine or something else, using a K or C and include or not include the Y. Sure, I can reprogram my auto-correct feature, but she’s a stubborn entity and might pick up the alternative spelling anyway just to annoy me.


For the record, I never had to reprogram Mrs. Nichols or Miss Graham, they were both crackerjack spellers, and, besides that, they rewarded me for my perfect spelling with ice cream or a spelling crown.


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