Mrs. Amay James

MISS AMAY, as she was affectionately called by her children and friends, lived on Boundary Street about two blocks from our home in Brooklyn. She was a short, stout woman with a very friendly serene face and a rare ability to make friends. For years, she and my mother had been friends and neighbors. I felt a closeness to her also. She had known me as a child and when I was a teacher at Fairview School where I first began my teaching career in Charlotte.
 
Miss Amay was the mother of three treasured boys. Perhaps the fact that she had no girls helped to develop and strengthen in her a great interest in boys. Wherever she went or in whatever activity she worked, people soon became aware of her great passion for boys, and she would outwardly express herself from time to time as being rather partial toward them. In her school life, she always said that she preferred to teach boys, and for that reason, boys who needed special guidance or were unusual disciplinary problems would often be placed under her guidance by the school principal.
 
She was the old-fashioned, traditional type of teacher who believed in a thorough teaching of fundamentals. She also believed in applying the rod on the sit-down section if the occasion demanded its use. The worst disciplinary case in her classroom soon became aware that she meant business, and it wasn’t long before he would decide to take an inventory of himself and change his ways.
 
In the Brooklyn area and around her home, Miss Amay was equally interested and active in the boys’ causes. Her husband was quite musical, and during his lifetime he was interested in teaching their own boys as well as others how to blow horns and play other musical instruments. After his death, Miss Amay continued his project of helping boys to master musical instruments. Time after time, I remember passing their home and often hearing weird, discordant notes coming from the living room. I knew that Miss Amay and her boys were having band practice, and these peculiar notes were a part of their learning process. This good woman was an ardent Presbyterian, who was innately religious. Her educational training was secured from Scotia Seminary, one of the early missionary schools for women. The lessons learned there so impressed her that throughout her life, she was tremendously interested in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ.
 
The first recollection that I have of her religious zeal for Christian work was the unwavering, devoted interest that she had in a Sunday school which she organized in a section quite distant from the city at that time. This was a rather new community, and the people were greatly in need of organizations to help them become better citizens. Miss Amay became aware of this need, and she was determined to try to do something about it.
 
Miss Amay was of a heavy build, and as she grew older, she had trouble walking long distances. She didn’t let it deter her from getting to this Sunday school. If she failed to get someone to drive her all of the way, she would ride a portion of the way and walk the rest because she was determined to carry on this much needed work. She did her best to guide, counsel and teach all who came to sit at her feet. The citizens in the community developed a great admiration for her and confidence in her. Those who came in contact with Miss Amay realized that her dedication was no ordinary thing but that it was a sincere offering of her talents in the hope that she could point them to a better and fuller life.
 
The small Sunday school grew under her guidance and with the assistance of good friends both white and colored until the members were numerous and strong enough to form the nucleus of a church congregation.
 
Today, in the southern section of our city stands a beautiful church edifice as the outgrowth of the noble and fine work accomplished by Miss Amay through her Sunday school.
 
As an additional honor and in appreciation of her, the new public school erected to serve that section of town is called Amay James School. The honor certainly demonstrates the large measure of her influence. No better honor could have been accorded this woman who tried to help mold good citizens. Miss Amay served God and her fellow man well.

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