|A History of the Burns Family|
|PART ONE: Guy's Path to the Dance|
PART ONE Overview
1 - Wildcat Brigade
2 - Battle of Wilderness
3 - Field Hospital
4 - Orphan School
5 - Ladies' Man
6 - Mary Dinger
7 -The Masons
8 - Mary Rebecca
9 - Guy the Wanderer
10 - Farmer Boy
11 - Center of the World
12 - Birthday
13 - Fish Story
14 - Miss Fenn
15 - To the Dance
Dear Guy, 
Most sincerely, your friend,
July 31, 1903
Miss Fenn’s July letter is now creased and wrinkled with rereading, but on this crisp October day a new one has arrived, sent from Massachusetts along with her photograph. Julia Fenn, principal of East High School until last spring and Guy’s beloved English teacher, has written from Radcliffe College, where she is pursuing her graduate studies. 
Guy doesn’t blame her for leaving the Falls. The rules for teachers here are absurd. They cannot marry, ride in a carriage with any man not a brother or father, wear bright colors, or stay out past eight in the evening except for a school function. Two petticoats are required in public, and hemlines may be no more than two inches above the ankle. Who would want to put up with such restrictions? In contrast, this letter from Cambridge fairly vibrates with her excitement at newfound freedoms. 
It's been more than a year since Guy graduated along with ten classmates from East, but he likes still being remembered as one of the group Miss Fenn always called "My Girls and Boys." Guy studies her photograph -- that kind and familiar face, the dark smiling eyes -- and sighs. There’s heartache in her latest encouraging message, especially her wish that Guy and the rest of her "boys" might be able to attend Harvard someday. How would she feel about his new job -- as a clerk at a rolling mill? She with such lofty ambitions for him? Would this be the “splendid success” she had envisioned for “Her Boy”?
Guy would gladly make the three-mile walk to her house in Tallmadge tomorrow if she were still there. For she is quite simply the best teacher he ever had, and one of the finest people he knows. He is not unmindful of the many other excellent instructors at East, including the physical science teachers who praised his careful drawings of the principles of ventilation, distillation, displacement, and the like, and gave him marks of A or A+ on every lesson. But these were natural
Miss Fenn had opened up a whole universe of intellectual endeavor. To her he owes whatever ability he possesses to read with understanding, to think broadly, to speak clearly. And who else had thought to tell him that paragraphs were like little essays?
Is it any good? Is it too forward, he wonders? She has told him to write “simple home letters to a friend, and not specimens of rhetoric to a teacher.”  Will this give the game away? Another sigh as he finds a fresh sheet of paper and begins to copy out the lines in his best hand. He'll send the poem.
Julia Fenn did not finish out her course of study at Radcliffe, withdrawing on account of poor health. She later recovered sufficiently to resume her teaching career, and she and her elderly widowed father boarded with an East Cleveland family while she taught Latin at a nearby high school. Julia Fenn died in 1910, at the age of 35. Her obituary mentions her “sweet, vivid personality” and her extraordinary influence on and devotion “to the young people who came under her charge, and whom she called lovingly, ‘my boys and girls.’” But there’s also an undercurrent of loss, longing, and suffering endured by the “dainty, gentle little woman” eulogized in the Leaf of Memories published at her death.
 Letter from Tallmadge, Ohio, written July 31, 1903, transcribed in full. Photo from Julia Fenn’s memorial notes.
 Details from Julia Fenn’s letters to Guy, along with memorial notes.
 From a list of rules for teachers, Cuyahoga Falls, ca. 1915.
 Detail about Julia’s mother from her memorial notes. A 1942 letter to Ada from Guy refers to his high-school classmate Katherine Howland, and a "dark-haired sweetheart" of old named Minnie.
 Found written on the back of Julia Fenn’s October 1903 letter. An alternative theory is that he wrote these lines for Ada, whose name Guy wrote along with Julia Fenn’s name on the envelope for this letter.
 From the October, 1903 letter.