Smile, You’re on Candid Camera!


I liked school and I liked most of my classes.  I loved any kind of math and all my English classes, but I hated science.  I never was interested in protons and neutrons and I could care less about what causes photosynthesis.  I liked most of my teachers too; however, I did have a few who, in my opinion should have never been teachers.  One in particular was my fifth grade English teacher.  This man was a southern Baptist preacher and his southern drawl so heavy and thick, I had a difficult time understanding what he was saying half of the time.  I think the only thing that save me and helped me pass that year was the fact that he took a three-month sabbatical.  I am not sure where he went or what he was doing, but I was happy to see a substitute teacher replace him.  Well, actually the first substitute teacher to replace him only last through the first day.

Our first substitute teacher was Mrs. McCanne, and even though she only taught us one day, I will never forget her for as long as I live.  I will never forget that morning when she walked into the classroom.  She was an older woman, but not too old; I suppose she was in her late fifties.  She wore a loose-fitting pale purple dress that had darker purple flower prints on it, and she had a white sweater wrapped around her shoulders.  Mrs. McCanne wore thick lens glasses that were held in place by reddish color frames.  Her hair was wavy and blackish brown and hung almost to her shoulders.  She was carrying a stack of folders and books, and her brown bulky purse hung over her right shoulder.  Never saying a word, she placed all her supplies on her desk; put her purse away and walked slowly to the blackboard.  She wrote her name on the board and then turned to face the class.

I studied her face and the way she was dressed and her eye glasses, and I could have sworn that I had met her before.  As and listened to her introduce herself, “Good morning class. My name is Mrs. McCanne and I will be your teacher until Mr. Hale returns.  We will pick up where you left off and continue with the classwork and tests as scheduled.”  She immediately started teaching us how to diagram sentences.  For fifteen minutes, I kept staring at her thinking that I knew her from somewhere.  I knew that face and I knew that voice; I was sure of it.  I thought and thought about it; “Where have I seen this woman before?”  And then, all the sudden, from out of the blue, I figured out who she was and I started giggling uncontrollably.  I laughed and laughed and about the time I would quit laughing, she would say something I would start laughing all over again.  Even though none of the other kids knew why I was laughing, they were laughing too.  Curious about what was so funny, the girl sitting next to me whispered, “What is so funny?”   I said, “Mrs. McCanne is no ordinary teacher and this is no ordinary school day.  That is Carol Burnett up there and we are on Candid Camera.  By this time, all the kids sitting around me were listening to what I was saying and they were all excited about being on television.

I am not joking – this woman looked just like Carol Burnett when she puts on one of her outfits she wears on her show.  Her voice was just like one of Carol Burnett’s characters and the things she was saying may not have been so funny, but nevertheless, we were all laughing.  There was no doubt in my mind that she was Carol Burnett.  And we had to be on Candid Camera; why else would Carol Burnett be in our classroom?   Soon the entire fifth grade was aware of the fact that Carol Burnett was teaching English and students were walking past the doorway and stopping and looking in just hoping to get a glimpse of her.  And pretty soon after that, the sixth graders found out, then the seventh graders.  Then the principle came to the classroom.  I cannot remember exactly what he said, but it was something to this effect, “Good morning girls and boys.  I see you have met Mrs. McCanne.  She has been teaching for several years and she comes highly recommended.  I hear some of you think she may be Carol Burnett.  Let me assure you that she has no connection with Carol Burnett or The Carol Burnett Show.  She is a teacher and that’s all.”  Then he left the room.  Well, we all knew that if you’re on Candid Camera they don’t want you to know what’s going on.  And we all knew that the principle was hiding Mrs. McCanne’s true identity so when Allen Funt walked in and said, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” we would all be surprised.

I loved Carol Burnett and I watched her show with my mom every Monday night.  All the other kids loved her too and being the great fans we were, it didn’t take much to make us laugh.  Every time she made a facial expression, we would laugh.  Every time she walked around the room, we would laugh.  Every time she said anything the whole class would burst out laughing.  Some of us were laughing so hard we were crying.  Yep, thanks to me figuring out who she was, we all had the most fun we had ever had in English class.  No one ever told us she was Carol Burnett, but we never saw her again, so she must have been.  Allen Funt never came in and said, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!” either.  Another teacher came in the next day to replace Mrs. McCanne and she stayed until Mr. Hale returned.  In the meantime, my classmates and I waited and waited for them to show our classroom on Candid Camera or on the Carol Burnett Show.  They never did. 😛

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