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Annabel Hastings
by Tom Luddecke

Annabel Hastings was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1637. Early in her life she was forced to combat the prejudices of those around her who believed she was a witch. During her arduous trial-by-water, Anna was reported to have remarked, “I forgive you your biases because ignorance is so blinding. I forgive you your fears because ignorance is so compelling. I forgive you for stripping me of pride and dignity because they are so vain by nature, but I cannot forgive you the fact that all of my clothes are woolen and will shrink like hell!”

Anna survived the test and overcame the tribulations society placed in her way. She later became the first woman teacher in the Bay Colony and developed the then novel philosophy of non-violent discipline. “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” she stated, “is a bunch of diddly-squat! Children are like precious plants and grow if nurtured with tenderness toward the warmth of the sun.” Annabel left teaching a year later when one of her students, a William Salvation, smashed her kneecap with a brilliantly place drop-kick. As school officials pried young William out of his inkwell, Anna retorted, “Tis a wise person who can admit she made a mistake and get in a little sock-o at the same time.”

Hobbled by a crippled knee, Anna then spent time helping those afflicted with physical handicaps, hideous deformities, and the propensity to tell bad jokes. Often mistreated and considered social misfits, Anna taught them self-worth and pride in their uniqueness. She fought excruciating battles to grab bits of legislation which would improve the lot of the unfortunate.  Impoverished and drained of all sources of income, Anna was force to raise money by taking her wards on the road as a traveling side show to take advantage of their uniqueness.

Disillusioned but not discouraged, Anna hopped a slave ship and traveled to Africa where she began missionary work among the native villages. Anna never again returned to the colonies, and the last word of her was in the form of a letter sent to her brother, Jacob, in Scituate, Massachusetts. In it she still showed those enduring qualities which made her life so full, and that characteristic persistence to achieve the damn near impossible. She closed her letter by writing to her brother, “Given time and patience, by hook or by crook, I’ll teach those damn ostriches they can fly!”