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Memoirs

Walking Ten Miles in the Snow–well, not quite!

Although I didn’t have to walk to school ten miles in the snow, I grew up in a time when kids weren’t as pampered as they seem to be these days.  How so?

For one thing, I rode the bus to school every day from first grade through twelfth grade with very few exceptions. My kids didn’t have to because I was a teacher and they rode with me so they never had to experience the hot, crowded, bumpy, long ride that I suffered.  If school started at 8:00, I was picked up at 6:45.  If school got out at 3:00, I didn’t get home until almost 4:30.  There was no air conditioning and there were no safety belts. Kids of all grades mixed together and bullying wasn’t unheard of.  Thank goodness I usually had good bus drivers who kept an eye on us, and if we felt threatened we could sit close to the front near the driver.

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I did get to go school clothes shopping, but I also wore hand-me-downs from cousins. The clothes my mother got me before school started had to last all year–there was no mid-year shopping. One pair of shoes served me all year unless I outgrew them.

We did get new things for Christmas, but we chose to ask for toys rather than clothing.  Imagine a kid asking for toys over clothes!

When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, patterned hosiery was popular.  I wanted some so badly. Finally my parents bought me a pair but they were thigh-high and I didn’t realize they needed garters to hold them up. I didn’t have garters, so when I wore those stockings to school I couldn’t keep them up. I remember pulling on those things the whole day long. I doubt if I ever worn them again.
I wonder if that was my mother’s intention all along? Hm . . .

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We also played outside on the playground during recess unless it was raining.  No matter how cold it was, we were sent outside for twenty or thirty minutes to play. I remember standing against the building near the teachers so that the bitter north wind would be blocked. Girls were not allowed to wear pants when I was in elementary school, so our little legs froze, even with knee socks. I’m sure my coat had a hood, but it wasn’t fashionable to use it so I didn’t. 

The playground equipment consisted of huge metal swingsets with large chains holding canvas u-shaped seats. You could swing really high in those swings but you certainly did not want to walk in front of anyone on the downswing. You’d get clobbered.  We also had metal monkey bars, steel merry-go-round, steel johnny-strikes, metal horizontal ladder, and tall sheet metal slide.  All this was situated on hard dirt. No mulch or recycled rubber for us. 

These are johnny strikes.  What kid hater invented these?  I was scared to death of them!
Johnny did get struck many times!
You can also see the tall slide and huge swings in the photo.

I guess our survival from kid to adult was not a priority back then, but I managed, in spite of the lack of air conditioning in our schools, cars, and homes, and in spite of carrying metal lunchboxes and walking in front of school buses with big front ends.  Today’s safety measures are great: I would imagine there are far fewer emergency room visits, but then kids back in my day pretty much suffered through their injuries unless they were deemed life threatening. 

Sometimes I wish kids of today had to suffer a little more discomfort. But wait, not my grandkids. . .

Hope you’re staying safe, well, and sane. . .

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