Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Yesterday I wrote about grade school days, hot lunches and riding the school bus. I was surprised at how quickly people commented, relating their own experiences in grade school.
Yes, I walked home for lunch for the first years. The walk to and from took up most of the hour. And yes, there are many things about those years that I would like to forget. But I choose to remember the good times or the quirky little things that happened back then, and of course the friends - people I remember only from those times, who will remain in my mind children forever.
When Clara from Tennessee commented, she spoke of her mother braiding her hair. I used to wear braids. I was pretty much a tomboy for a while, and it was the easiest way to keep my hair out of my way. In school, we were seated alphabetically, as well as boy-girl-boy-girl. Since my name began with a W, that meant that I spent several years seated behind Geoffrey Watts, whom I liked very much, and in front of John Wood, whom I liked not so much. You see, we had ink wells in our desks in those days. John enjoyed putting the end of my braid into his ink well.
That seating arrangement also meant that I was stuck in the back of the room. I did not like that at all. I was the eager beaver kid with her hand up all the time. But the teacher seemed always to call on the boys first.
I remember all of my grade school teachers. Loved most of them: Miss Mason, Miss Lambkin....all of them. But then there was Miss Henderson in the 5th grade. Don't you sometimes wonder why certain people become teachers? Wouldn't you think that a person who became a teacher would like children? Miss H. always gave me the impression that she was just putting up with us, and she obviously disliked certain kids in the class. I was not among those unfortunates, but it really bothered me. She did give us poetry to read, which I loved, but when she read it aloud, she butchered it. And then, there was the time I got sick.
We were having a sort of talent show. Our class was to present the entertainment for the other 5th grade class. Miss H. told me I had to sing a song. I really did not want to do this, and she knew it. When the time came, I was feeling very sick. She thought I was just trying to get out of it, and made me get up in front of the class anyway. Fortunately, as soon as I stood up there, the teacher of the other class said, "Send that child to the nurse's office! She isn't well!" As it turned out, I had the measles. I was sent home. Had to trudge through the snow, which seemed to get deeper with every step. Finally reached home and dragged myself up to our second floor apartment via the fire escape, and climbed through a bedroom window, since I had no key and my mother, being deaf, always locked the door until it was time for me to come home. I was really angry with Miss H. for not believing that I was sick, and with my mother for locking the door.
Miss H. also made us memorize Bible verses and recite them. I hated that. This wasn't unusual in those days, when we started every day with the pledge to the flag, a prayer, and a Bible reading. Then there were the missionaries who came to visit at least once a year. I can still sing the little Chinese hymn they taught us. And of course, there were the ladies of the W.C.T.U. (Women's Christian Temperance Union, for the uninitiated) who also came once a year and made us stand up by our desks with our hands over our hearts to recite The Pledge that we would never allow liquor to touch our lips. But, that's another story.