By Matthew Soper June 2003
Marjorie and Roy Long were married on August 28, 1928. They spent a little time in California while her husband took a welding class. He could not get a job welding so they did odd jobs to survive-like picking potatoes. Before long they decided to move back to Delta where Marjorie again got a job teaching at Read. In 1932 a son, Roy was born and then in 1934, a second son, Wayne, was born. She took some time off from teaching to raise her boys. When she went back to teaching, she started teaching 5th grade at Delta and then transferred to Delta Middle School where she taught math and English. She taught there until 1970 when she retired.
Marjorie still lives alone at their ranch at Cory, Colorado. (2003) after retiring she cooked lunches for the ranch hands. She continued to do that until about a year ago when her daughter-in-law retired from the Cory Post Office and took over that job. She looks forward each week to attending church and prayer meeting at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She also enjoys having her sons and their families drop in each day. She has four other sisters that visit regularly as well as nieces and nephews-including me. This remarkable lady is my aunt. I’m just sorry I never got to have her for a teacher.
Marjorie (Howard) Long’s love for mathematics began when she was just a child being tutored nightly by her grandmother’s maid, Amelia Hays. Her parents valued an education for their children and had such a strong commitment to it that there was never any doubt in Marjorie’s mind that she wanted to go to school and become a teacher. Between the year of 1925 and 1970, many students not only received valuable mathematics and English training, but they were also instilled with a desire to do their very best. From her classroom have come doctors, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, a judge, etc., all one-time students who respected and admired her. They show their appreciation by continuing to call and write even though she has been out of the teaching profession for over 30 years and many of them are now retired. Her no nonsense love for both the subject she was teaching and her students came across loud and clear.
Marjorie Howard’s first teaching assignment came when she was just out of high school. She had had not formal college training, but after passing a qualifying test, she was hired at the Ute Trail School. She had seven students in six different grades.
At the end of one year of teaching at Ute Trail, Marjorie was offered a job at Red, Colorado, where she taught for four years, until she and Roy Long were married. During that time she was not only a teacher, but also the principal. She recalled how important it was for students not only to get a good academic background, but also how critical it was to have fun together and learn teamwork. They met with Hotchkiss, Paonia and Fairview schools once a year for a track and field day. She recalled that she and her students would practice for the events together in the road that ran in front of the school. Her love for baseball spilled over into their recess activities when she organized frequent baseball games. Competition must have been important because she also recalled a spelling bee the Read School had with Fairview. After over 75 years, her eyes still twinkle as she tells about how her students won the spelling competitions.
After taking time out to raise her own children, Marjorie Long again reentered the profession she loved. At one point she felt she might not get a teaching job so she thought she might become a nurse like three of her other sisters; however, she realized that not only did she not like to be around sick people, she loved imparting knowledge to students. She taught back at Read, then went to Fairview as a teacher and principal, and finally took an assignment teaching 5th grade in Delta, Colorado. She said that teaching 5th grade wasn’t nearly as much fun as teaching math at Delta Middle School.
Marjorie’s students used to tease her about her name. Mrs. Long was a tiny, petite lady that probably could not have stood five foot two if she had been on tip toes, but her size was deceiving. Generally she expected her students to be quiet and diligent in their work. She demanded their respect and got it, but at the same time everyone knew that she would do everything in her power to make sure her students understood what she was trying to teach them. As all teachers occasionally find out, she shocked and pleased one of her classes when she stepped out of her usual mold. A particularly ornery boy had hollowed a book out so that his squirt gun could be hidden inside. He had managed to get off a couple of quick shots at classmates before Mrs. Long caught him. When she did catch him, rather than taking the water gun away or crushing it, she grabbed it and unloaded all the remaining water right on the student. She said she never ever had any more nonsense out of him in her class again. This element of surprise showed there was a side of Mrs. Long that could not always be predicted.
At the dinner for retires in 1970, Mrs. Marjorie Long was honored for her many years of dedicated teaching in the Delta County schools. The love and respect her students had for her is still evident. She has been out of teaching for 32 years (2003) and still she has students that call, write or look her up when they pass through the area. She smiles happily as she mentions various students by name. I had the privilege of having my Aunt Marjorie as a babysitter, but I regret the fact that I did not have the opportunity to have her as a teacher.
Marjorie Long, who will be 98 in June 2003, she is currently the oldest living Delta County teacher, according to the Delta County Retired Teachers’ Association — there are three others who are younger, but who are also in their 90’s.
Director, Delta County Historical Society and Museum