Local author gives glimpse into The Great Depression through sick notes her mother scrapbooked

Book shares teamwork teachers, mothers have always had when raising children

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A local author is sharing what teachers and mothers dealt with during The Great Depression years of 1937 to 1940.

Linda Schilling Mitchell, the author of “Dear Miss Schneider, Please excuse Walter...” and resident of Green Cove Springs, published a book that takes you on a journey using a variety of notes written to her mother, a teacher during The Great Depression. The notes — including absent notes and sick notes — were given to her to explain why a student was missing from the classroom. She kept them and used them as a lesson for her children.

“She was very passionate about her students,” Mitchell told News4JAX. “She kept the scrapbook and collected all the notes that parents sent in as to why their children were absent. And it was always kept in a drawer room closet all the time growing up. Every once in a while she’d get the scrapbook out and she opened it up and she’d tell us about the kids and relate stories to us about them and then the scrapbook would sneak back into a closet or a drawer for however long.”

The notes are said to be a tale of the times.

“These humble, heartfelt, and sometimes humorous notes have been cloistered away for more than 80 years,” a blurb about the book said. “Enjoy as well, the history of Miss Schneider’s life as pages of photographs and memorabilia guide you through the years. It was a lifetime ago. Their story has been waiting to be told.”

One story Mitchell recalled was her mother telling her about her third-grade boys, some of them ages 12 and 13, who were bigger than she was because they had to help their family make money.

“She was tiny. She was only five foot two and 98 pounds soaking wet. And some of her third-grade students were bigger than she was because they had to, the boys had to work. They had to help out on the farm or in the family business. So they had to work and because they worked, they would miss school and they would not pass — so some of her third-grade students were 12, 13 years old, so they were big boys. And she always said that she made friends with the biggest boy in the class. That was like her bouncer in her class.”

Ahead of Mother’s Day, and during Teacher’s Appreciation Week, Mitchell told News4JAX that teachers and mothers have always been a team when it came to raising children.

“The stars of the book or the students, the kids,” Mitchell said. “The heroes of the books are the mothers and the influencer of the book is the teacher.”

To learn more about Mitchell and her published books, click here. Play the video above to hear more from Mitchell’s interview with News4AJAX.

About the Authors:

Carianne Luter is an Award-Winning Digital Media and Engagement Manager for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She won "Best Social Media Engagement Strategy" during the Local Media Association 2022 Digital Innovation Awards. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.