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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.

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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

Categories
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. 

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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.

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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
Categories
Memoirs

Teacher’s Pet

When I was in second grade, my friends told me I was the teacher’s pet. I didn’t really think of myself as such, but I was the one Mrs. Russell chose to keep in during recess at the end of the day to help her with projects such as putting up bulletin boards, cutting out things, cleaning erasers, or doing errands for her.  



That’s me in the circle and Mrs. Russell with the tall hair standing.

 You can see the book characters on the wall. 

That year we had recess after lunch, and then a quiet time where we would rest our heads on our desks and listen to the teacher read to us.  My favorite book that she read was The Wizard of Oz.  She had put characters from the book on the wall and I would study them every day.  I was so enamored with the story and so eager to know what happened next that I persuaded my parents to buy me a copy of the book. Soon I found myself the proud owner of the Whitman version of the book which I believe I read in one weekend.


Another thing I remember about reading in elementary school was the SRA reading kit.  SRA stands for Science Research Associates.  During SRA time, we would go to the SRA box on the counter in the classroom, pick a folded card with a reading selection and then we would be tested over the reading.  If we scored high enough on the reading test, we could advance to the next color.  If not, we had to select another story in the same color.  Being kind of an overachiever, I would rush through the reading, take the test, and see if I could advance faster than anyone else.  I was in the top reading group, after all.


Back in the 60’s we were all divided into reading groups based on our abilities.  Though the groups were named benignly after birds or colors, there was no doubt in our minds which group was the smartest, which was the middle, and which was the slowest.  And since there were no classroom teacher aides, we were expected to work on an assignment at our desks while the teacher had a reading group at a table in the back of the room.  No one misbehaved during that group time because no one wanted to be the recipient of a swing from the teacher’s paddle or a visit to the principal’s office.  There was real fear in those days.  I think it had something to do with the fact that you would catch it at home as well.


So  I was smart.  Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.  The girl who followed the rules.  The girl who got to stay in from recess and help the teacher.   Teacher’s pet.  What about you?  Were you the teacher’s pet?  

XOXO


Categories
Memoirs

Little April Goes to School

My school career began when my family and I lived in the James house in Van.  Back when I was a youngster they didn’t have kindergarten in public school, so I attended a two-week preschool at J.E. Rhodes Elementary School.   I don’t remember a lot about it, but I do remember riding a big school bus, and one classmate in particular riding in the backseat. His first name was Mark, and we eventually graduated high school together. 
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Later on I started first grade.   My teacher’s name was Mrs. Gilbreath.  My friend Lisa who used to be my neighbor was in Mrs. Moore’s class.  I was disappointed that she wasn’t in my class but I’m sure I made other friends.  As a big sister I didn’t mind taking on responsibility, but once when the teacher was out of the room I took it upon my six-year-old self to stand up and tell the class to be quiet.  Imagine my humiliation when the teacher caught me and gave me a quick swat with her hand on my backside.  And I was only trying to help!

My first grade class picture. Can you find me? (middle row, fourth from right) 
My friend Mark stands right behind me.
I wasn’t always that sure of myself, though.  I remember sitting on the couch in our tiny living room while Daddy watched out the front window for the big yellow bus that would take me to school.  I clutched a box of 64 Crayola crayons wrapped with a rubber band under which was stuck two buffalo-head nickels for the snack bar so I could buy a big red sucker or some Sugar Babies.  Yes, the school peddled candy to children and we lived!
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As the bus neared our driveway, my parents would send me out the door where I would, with great difficulty, climb the bus steps with my short little legs and find an empty seat among all the big noisy kids.  I felt so very small, and I can’t imagine how my parents must have felt watching me get on that big school bus.  I remember sitting next to an older girl with a long ponytail, bony knees, and long black hair on her legs.  Girls wore dresses to school in those days.
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At some point that year, my brother and I came down with the measles.  Not the three-day German measles (rubella) but the more serious measles or rubeola.  There were no vaccines back then, or at least they weren’t widely available or recommended like they are today.  I remember lying on the couch and being very ill.  Fortunately we suffered through the illness and recovered.  I’m not sure how much school we missed.
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Coming home from school every day was memorable.  Stay tuned for story time, music, Mercury dimes, and swimming lessons.

XOXO