Mademoiselle Moulin by (2 Stories)

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Mademoiselle Moulin. Miss Windmill.  

That’s what her name meant

Though I’m not sure she 

Taught us that or 

Necessarily wanted us to know


But square with cropped red hair

A kind of Buster Brown

In peasant pants and big buttoned top

Dallas not Paris was her home


She was born and grew up

She came to us with a smell

Different from my mother

Who favored Yardley’s


Scent was enhanced by

Her bike ride to school

And the small yard which she cut

With her push powered mower

Living alone

If that’s what she did

Seemed to agree with her

And we only incidentally

Wondered why she was a miss


Intense and slightly irritable

It wasn’t clear she was meant

For children and only now

I wonder about her life

She drew

Large hilarious protruding lips

On the blackboard in 

A valiant effort to move our

New French words farther forward


Swallow their words keeping 

Them locked in their throats

And mumbling their meaning

She said let them out

On her chalkboard

La Tour Eiffel took shape and

And a whole new take on French poodles

Who often sported berets

Like the one she wore

Un petit effort

And months and years of exposure

To the sounds from her mouth and

From the LP’s on the turntable

Introduced us to the larger world

Of a woman

Herself a long-playing record 

Well-aged when we first met

And timeless to me today

Miss Moulin and her big lips

Profile photo of Jan Fox Jan Fox
In the 1950's, storytelling on the schoolbus was my entertainment. By the mid-1970's, storytelling in the courts had become my profession. Today and always, storytelling set to music and sung from the heart is my joy.

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Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Your description of her is indelible, Jan. “Miss Windmill”, I love it! One didn’t think about lifestyle choices when we were young, did we? But it sounds like she was good at teaching how to properly speak French and that’s what it was all about, n’est pas?

  2. Suzy says:

    Jan! So glad to see you here again, with your own imitable style! Great to learn about Mlle. Moulin, your wonderful French teacher. Love that she wore a beret and introduced you to a larger world, drawing big lips to help you with your French pronunciation. Dallas in the ’60s may not have been an easy place for her, but it sounds like she made it work.

  3. Wonderful Jan, love your style!
    Welcome to Retrospect, hope we see your stories every week!

  4. Marian says:

    Brava, Jan, j’aime Mlle. Moulin. She was an intriguing personality and very memorable to you, and I love her unorthodox methods and blackboard drawings.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Love your description of Mademoiselle Moulin. Perfect details to make her come alive.

  6. Susan Bennet says:

    Well, this is just brilliant, Jan. I’ve come back several times to re-read. Thank you.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    You evoke her complexity well, and recreate an indelible impression. Teachers can spend so much effort trying to reach the students, and clearly her efforts paid off. And created some good memories too.

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