It was the happiest of days. Had I realized it at the time, I would have savored every moment and filled a jar of memories for the years I am living now. It is not uncommon for someone in their elder years to compare today’s surroundings with those in their childhood years. For some reason, schools always come to the fore when I start placing A next to B.
The smell of the well oiled floors greeted us each fall and a certain excitement filled the air. Who would be our teacher? Would there be any new kids? I cannot remember any problem with bullying. Most of the kids were in the same financial category. Most parents worked in the mill across the road from the school. There were no designer jeans and fancy clothes.
To most of us, the opportunity of having swings and teeter boards to use during recess was something we looked forward to each day.
I had a love/hate relationship with school. From the very first day, I was bored with Dick and Jane and Spot and the teacher, Miriam McAllister sensed it. She soon had me trying different arithmetic problems to keep my mind off the paper cutter at the rear of the room which seemed to attract me for some reason.
There is one memory and I have no idea why it sticks in my mind so vividly to this day. I was in the first grade and Mrs. McAllister was having us read or was reading to us about some Chinese people and drinking tea and where that originated etc. Suddenly, a feeling of revulsion came over me and I thought”Those are very bad people.” Never before nor since have I ever had that thought or felt that way. I remember shuddering and wishing we could go on to another story.
I am placing my sanity in your hands when I go on with this tale. Years later, on a lark, I accompanied others to a reading by either a medium, psychic, or whomever and she asked if I believed in reincarnation. At the time, it was not a subject I readily thought about, so gave a half hearted shrug. She looked at me and said, “In a former life you lived in Mongolia. You sold jewelry and you were shot in the street. You were not involved , just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” It was then the feeling in the first grade leaped into my mind. Well, it is anyone’s guess but I thought it strange that I should remember a feeling I experienced when I was six years old…
Lunch time meant , in good weather, sitting on the school grounds, opening our brown paper bags and examining what was within. What we found , we shared with the village dog, Sandy, who knew exactly what time to visit. My brothers and I usually had biscuits with peanut butter and/or jelly and perhaps a cookie or a cracker with peanut butter. Anything to fill the hole, as Ma used to say. We ate it and were happy.
Our music department consisted of a lady coming in on a Friday morning, pounding the piano while the entire school assembled in the “big” room and sang along. There was no gym and Phys Ed, but a whole school yard where we became hooligans during noon hour and recess.
There was no school nurse. Teachers kept bandaids and the basics in their desk drawers for small emergencies. A doctor came at least once a year to administer shots. I remember a small pox vaccination which was not a favorite day in my memory bank.
We collected dimes for the March of Dimes; picked milkweed for the service men so they would have parachutes they needed. It was the time of World War 2 and everyone knew someone who was overseas.
In the photo below you see the entire third, fourth and fifth grades assembled on the school steps to commemorate a really fun day…as you can see, the Clown came to entertain us. I cannot remember one thing he did, but it broke the monotony of another school day. Mrs. Ruth Ring stands in back of all her hooligans …imagine being responsible for three grades at one time!!
I loved some of my teachers and those I didn’t love, I learned to respect because I was deathly afraid of them…which was good because my sense of humor was always getting me in trouble. Frances Gunther and Olive Lurvey put the fear of God in me and I learned more from them than I can express. Ruth Ring was a softie but such a patient teacher…look at what she had to work with at the time! I dearly loved Gale Webber, our seventh grade teacher, because it was beyond my imagination that a man would be a teacher. I have no clue why I felt that way. Sorry to say he left after that one year, and we had another , a Mr. Guy Meserve, who boarded with the Norwood Fords on Bird Hill for the school year. I will not even go into the details of my final year at the little school house. Suffice it to say, Mr. Meserve’s favorite expression was “You’re not putting me through a knot hole and putting the plug in after me.” That was not directed completely at me, but at the room in general.
The little school house, in comparison with today’s schools and expectations was sadly lacking in so much, but on the other hand offered so much that is not seen in the present day.
Summing it up, we were just a bunch of happy kids.