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Fifth Grade Follies

It was in the fifth grade that I began writing stories. I don’t recall exactly what I wrote but I shared my work with friends, and at one time, my teacher. Any feedback they might have given me is not in my memory banks, so maybe it wasn’t that good? I don’t know. I do know that I began to consider myself a writer at that age.

That is when I discovered the book Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I must have checked it out of the school library a dozen times. I identified with little Harriet, although I didn’t consider myself a spy. She spied on people, even sneaked into their homes, to gather information to write about, until one of her schoolmates stole her notebook. It was devastating to have her innermost thoughts and feelings revealed to the world. I was very careful about what I wrote in my own notebook, and the only spying I did was on my family. But the book got me writing.

Fifth grade was still a part of J.E. Rhodes Elementary but our classes were separated from the younger grades. I changed classes for math and reading, probably, I don’t recall. My granddaughter attends J.E. Rhodes Elementary now, although not in the same building. The original building was destroyed by a tornado several years ago, so she goes to school in my old high school building. Of course, it’s all been renovated so it is unrecognizable as the old high school. I just attended her kindergarten graduation in the auditorium that I graduated in 45 years ago! How can that be? At least it’s air-conditioned now!

One memory I have that stands out is one time when we were in class sitting in desks that had been pushed together to make a large group. It was after lunch and I had been bitten by the witty bug and couldn’t keep my mouth closed in my efforts to entertain my classmates. Mrs. Pittman jumped all over me, telling me in front of the class how disappointed she was in my behavior. I’m telling you that stopped it once and for all. I was so ashamed of myself I wished I could disappear. I wish it was that easy to make kids behave today.

Fifth grade. The cusp of preteen-hood. Not quite a baby, not quite a teen, still a kid, but a big one. Next time: a visit to Neiman Marcus for an embarrassing visit with Santa.

My fifth grade school picture.
The pixie haircut grew out!

Do you have any standout memories of fifth grade? Do tell!

XOXO

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Memoirs

4th Grade Fun

Fourth grade was a fun year. Mrs. Davis was my teacher but we switched clasrooms and teachers for Reading. Mrs. Reed was my reading teacher. I believe that was the first year we switched classes, except we had always done so for music and P.E., of course.

My fourth grade class picture. That’s me in the front row, second student from the right with the wonky red bow on my dress!

One of the fun things I remember about fourth grade was art. One project we did involved covering wire coat hangers with yarn. My first attempt involved red and white yarn and came out pretty messy, probably because I missed the first day of the project, so I had to catch up. Then I did another one in red and green, which turned out much nicer. I gave that one to my mother, I believe.

Another project we did was for Valentine’s Day. We decorated large heart-shaped pockets which the teacher hung on the front of our desks. On Valentine’s Day we dropped our classmates’ Valentines into the pockets on the desks. My mother always made sure we had enough Valentines to give one to every person in the class. I wish I had saved some of those cute vintage Valentines. Of course, I treasured some of them more than others, like the ones from my best friends or the boy I liked.

Speaking of boys, it was customary to pass a note to the one you were interested in with these words: “Will you go with me? Check yes or no.” If the person checked yes, then you were officially “going together.” Then you would chase each other on the playground and maybe even sneak in some handholding. Ah, fourth grade.

The infamous fourth grade school picture. Fortunately the years have made me kinder to this poor little girl. What were we thinking with that pixie haircut? Sheesh!

Do you have any memories of fourth grade? Do tell!

Stay tuned for Mrs. Reed’s “Brer Rabbit. . .”

XOXO

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Memoirs

Meeting Mr. Darragh

It was 1966 when I entered second grade. I was tasked with keeping up with my brother Allen on the school bus, making sure he was on it in the afternoon and that he got off the bus in the morning once we arrived at school. He and I were often mistaken for twins, but he is fourteen months younger than I am, so he was in the first grade.

Wasn’t I a dumpling?

My teacher that year was Mrs. Russell, and I fast became one of her favorites. Or at least I thought I was. Maybe every one of her students had the same thought. She chose me to help her make bulletin board pictures, placed me in reading group one (bluebirds, or something of that sort–everyone knew we were the smartest), and sometimes kept me in the room during the last recess to be her helper.

One day as I was working at my desk, a tall slender man with black-rimmed glasses came into the classroom with Principal Moore. Mr. Moore was getting up in years with plans to retire. The man who had come in with him would be our new principal the next school year.

Mr. Darragh spoke to Mrs. Russell and then knelt down by my desk. What was he doing? I’m sure my face turned red, being singled out like that.

“What’s your name, young lady?” he asked, and after I told him, he told me what a pretty little girl I was and what a beautiful name I had. From that point on, Mr. Darragh would go out of his way to talk to me and even took an interest in what I planned to do with my life later on. Once, when I was in high school and saw him in the school cafeteria, he told me he thought I would make an excellent teacher. At the time I had no intention of being a teacher, but God had different plans, and He hinted at them through Mr. Darragh’s remark.

Mr. Darragh, 1968

Second grade was a fun, innocent year of becoming a fast reader, moving to a new house, chasing and being chased by boys on the playground, and enjoying just being a kid growing up in the country. I was blissfully unaware of the Vietnam War, civil rights unrest, the shooting rampage at the University of Texas in Austin, or the marriage of Elvis Presley to Priscilla Beaulieu.

Did you have a fun second grade experience?

XOXO

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Memoirs

Back to school

Those three words used to create dread and excitement when I was an elementary school student. I dreaded things like getting up early, riding the bus, being in P.E., having to get to know new teachers, wondering which of my friends would be in my class, eating in the school cafeteria. Few things about the start of school were exciting, but I did (and still do!) love shopping the new school supplies, getting new clothes, and seeing my friends again.

Summer vacation meant sleeping in and waking up to Mama sweeping the floor. It meant morning cartoons on TV and riding my bike or playing in the dirt pile until it got too hot in the afternoon. It meant my sisters and me running lemonade stands stocked with Koolaid and only having one customer and that was the man who came home with Daddy at lunchtime. It meant Vacation Bible School and getting to hold the Bible during the pledge to “God’s Holy Word.”

Summer meant getting to skip a nightly bath occasionally even after playing outside until dark. It meant fireflies and family “work up” baseball in the yard. It meant trips to the lake and family vacations staying in state park shelters and visiting relatives.

But summers didn’t last forever. So, armed with a new Big Chief tablet or loose leaf notebook, new pencils or pens, crayons or map colors, and a King Edward cigar box to hold everything, I entered the brave new world of the next grade.

I can still smell the new crayons and the janitor’s cleaning solutions. Close your eyes. Can you?

God bless the teachers, staff, and students as they enter the brave new world of school with Covid-19. May they all stay safe and well!

XOXO

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Memoirs

Boyfriends

I had a lot of boyfriends in elementary school. You weren’t “cool” if you weren’t “going” with someone.  Chasing each other on the playground and writing notes to each other was basically the extent of the relationship. We dared not hold hands or exchange kisses for fear of cooties. Boys and girls weren’t supposed to like each other, after all. 

I remember a few, and I’ll just give their initials so they won’t die of embarrassment if by some weird chance they were to read this. I remember liking a boy in preschool who rode on the bus with me, all giggles and bouncing in the back seat from bumps in the road. That’s really all I remember about him, except in later grades we never really talked to each other. Our interests diverged, I suppose, as did our group of friends. MD played tuba in the band as I recall, and I played flute. In high school he became a goat-roper (cowboy) while I was just a nerd.

My first (or maybe second) grade boyfriend was actually in my swimming class in the summer. It’s hard to recall anything except that we chased each other on the playground during recess. I don’t think that relationship lasted very long. Go figure. Two seven-year-olds.  He did come by my workplace while I was in college and ask me if I was interested in sharing an apartment! There was also another boy that pestered me so much everyone thought he was my boyfriend but he wasn’t.  He was pretty much the class goof-off.  Sadly, JW passed away at a young age.

The next beau I recall is DC in fourth grade. I do remember writing notes with him, notes that consisted of “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” If he checked yes, then you were going together. He sat behind me in class and was a Cub Scout. He wore the cool blue shirt and gold scarf to school one day a week. I seem to remember he smiled a lot. Probably still does.  I do know he is still married to his high school sweetheart and has a beautiful family.


That’s pretty much it. I guess there really weren’t a lot. I don’t recall any boyfriends in fifth or sixth grade. My parents never had to worry about setting a dating age for me, because no one ever asked me until I was a junior in high school. That’s me, number one nerd. I was too smart for boys to like me. 

That’s okay, though. I wound up with the best of the bunch.  JC and I have been together over 40 years, and I don’t have to chase him around the playground.

How about you?  Did you have boyfriends or girlfriends in elementary school?

Stay safe and well.


XOXO