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.