Iceland: the first country that we studied in 4th grade geography class.

by James K. Sayre

In fourth grade, I had a nice teacher named Miss Bostwick. In the parents' visit event one evening, she told my parents that I "was a very unusual child." I guess that was a polite way of hinting that I was sort of a troublemaker, not socially with the other kids, but with many questions and comments.

Geography was a new subject for us in fourth grade. And Iceland was the first country that we studied. I was entranced with the notion of geysers. Many years later, in November, 1978 I got to spend three days in Reykjavik. Due to a loss of power in one of the four jet engines on the Pan Am 747, instead of flying from London to San Francisco, the pilot made an landing at the Keflavik airport without further incident and we were bused into Reykjavik where we were put up in a first-class hotel.

The next morning, after a hearty Scandinavian breakfast, we were treated to a bus tour which included a visit to some greenhouses and the original Geysir. This Geysir had been so weakened by the massive use of underground steam and hot water supplies to heat the homes and businesses of Reykjavik, that a boxful of detergent was necessary to coax the Geysir into eruption.

Iceland had a dark, stark, volcanic and almost treeless landscape that seemed almost eerie. Just before leaving, I stopped at the duty-free shop and bought a nice dark woolen Icelandic blanket and several skeins of beautiful dark-colored Icelandic wool yarn (which a former girlfriend later crocheted into a nice blanket). Finally, with a replacement 747, Pan Am flew us back to San Francisco and the workaday world. A four-grader's dream come true, a mere third-of-a-century later.





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