Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A little time travel for us.

Ah, yes, a little time traveling for us today. Let's push the button and go back to 1956, the 4th grade class of a lovely, young, comfortable, looking German, woman.

The serious little girl, first row, left to right, number uno, not me but one of my best friends, was K. I had my first and only sleep over, when my mother allowed me to invite K to our house for a weekend. We actually took her to our cabin in the Pines. We swam in the Pine river, next to the house and turned our skin and bathing suits brown from the tannin in the water. 

We also came out of the river with leeches on our bodies. I remember my mother picking them off and K crying. I was used to it, didn't like it but it seemed the price you paid to cool off, in the pine water, on a hot day.

Actually, my mother gave K a LOT of attention that weekend. Since it was my first experience with sharing my mother with someone else I was taken back by this. I remember my mother asking K what she wanted for lunch, not a question I ever remember my mother asking me. When she called lunchtime I sat down to what ever she had decided to call a meal. Now, it was different, we had a guest.

I suppose my mother, a nurse was trying to make a good impression on K since her father was a doctor.
The women of my family being predisposed to be nurses and see all doctor's as "Gods walking among us". Remember this was in the 50's.

I remember my mother asking K what game she wanted to play when a chance shower came up, in the afternoon. I found tears leaking out of my eyes.
Who was this woman? When had she ever played a game with me?

I was so relieved when we got back home and K and I could play outside away from parental interference. I liked K a lot but this sharing of my mother, despite her faults was just too much for me.

The third little child, from left to right, front row, a boy child became a millionaire and an orphan when his parents were killed in an automobile accident. 
This was a Quaker school, populated by numerous Quaker farm children. Those Quaker farms were worth a fortune, as the suburbs and workers of Philadelphia moved out across the bridges to wide open spaces.

A shy little red headed boy, he became very popular in high school. He had a fast car, became slightly wild and found he had lots of new friends. He's no longer in this world having lived in the fast lane to long.

The fourth little girl, from the left, front row was my very best friend, in the world. When I entered the school, in the middle of third grade, the principal announced to me that she would be my Partner/friend. I was told that the school was divided into colors, blue and red and that for the rest of your days in the school you would always be the color assigned to you. I was blue and Peggy was my blue buddy.

If there was ever any event that meant lining up into teams, she and I stood side by side, holding hands. We were the BLUES.

She had orange, red hair, which I had never seen before, face covered with freckles and the biggest smile. She always wore tennis sneakers and her hair long, in a pony tail, two things I dreamed of wearing. 

My mother believed that short hair was easier for both of us to maintain and sneakers weren't good for your posture.

We spent as much time together as we could. She lived out in the country and had her own horse. She loved riding. She would tell me that as soon as school was over she would go home and ride her horse until dinner time. 

Having just experience my first riding session at camp, that summer, I envied her. I rode through her, by osmosis.

I left the school in the middle of sixth grade. My mother wasn't big on worrying about the impact of a child being hauled out of one classroom and stuffed into another. I was adaptable. I was tough. That was the least of her problems.

Peggy organized a going away surprise party for me.
By sixth grade my teacher was most likely happy to see me go. I wasn't the "norm". I was proving to have "acting out" issues, although, at that time I'm sure they didn't know what to call them. 

My parents were going through a nasty divorce and in 1958 it just wasn't the thing to do. Divorce was a dirty word. For the older Quakers it was a hard thing to even comprehend. My teacher had difficulties with it. 

Fourth row, last girl standing next to the teacher. Yup, the blond one. Again, not me, but a new girl to our class and she was wild. I'm not sure what her family issues were but put us together and we got in trouble. I was rather laid back and quiet but when she whispered a suggestion in my ear, for some reason I said, "Let's do it!". Peggy would shake her head no, at me. I would shake it yes, back at her.

Which is why I often ended up in detention or the next best thing, spending time sitting in the Principal's office. 

My crime? Taking the rolls of toilet paper from the girls bathroom and tying them to the railing of the banister, up on the third floor and letting them drop all the way down to the main floor.
Thus creating tp streamers.

My mother had to make time from work to come in and have a "session" with the principal.  I got to sit next to her and listen and be glared at while the principal listed my sins. Then the "talk" on the way home about how she was missing work, what was the matter with me and so on.

I don't know what happened to the tall, blond girl. She certainly made my life a little more exciting for a short time.

First row, fifth girl from left to right, N. She lived on a working farm and once had the entire class out there for watermelon and to learn how to milk a cow. That wasn't the best thing about her though, she was the first person that taught me you could make up stories that people would actually want to listen to.

Every Wednesday we had to have written a short story, following a theme handed us. We would read our short story out loud to the class. For most of us this was a painful event but for N she would have us spellbound as she wrote about the talking animals, on the farm. We got glimpses of the barn world from the view point of a family of mice, we heard about how the world appeared to a new born calf and so much more. 

Third row, third girl across, left to right, the tall one with glasses. She too had a talent for writing short stories and we listened spellbound to G as she read hers. 

Oh, I wanted to be them. I wanted to write like that.
Not because people listened but because they wrote something that actually took me from my world into another for a short time. I loved books but here, right here in my classroom where two people that could write like those books. 

The first row, last boy from left to right, M. Our first Jewish kid in a Quaker school. He was chubby, clumsy and funny as hell. He sat in front of me and told me really bad jokes. He was a BLUE so he always joined the line with Peggy and I. He said he wanted to be a Rabi. I heard he didn't make it back from Nam.

Third row, first little boy.  Isn't he a cutie? Well I thought so too and on a class field trip I let him take me into the Tunnel of Love. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle he thought he could have a kiss and I punched him.  He lost a front tooth. His father came over to talk to my father. It was not a good day. He got a gold tooth, I got TV privileges taken away, although my father did tell me that I did the right thing but maybe pushing him away would have been better than punching him. My claim that it happened so fast and I was taken by surprise fell on deaf ears. No Lone Ranger for me that week.
Said boy, later became a minister. I wonder if he replaced the gold tooth?

Why the trip down memory lane? I was up last night at 3:00am, like many women I know. I decided, for some reason to Google my old school, looking for pictures I might use in artwork. I came across this one.  It's also the only picture that I have of my class. Sadly, when I looked at the list of names on the web site, next to the picture, they had an empty spot for the little girl, first row, second from the left.

Nobody remembered who I was. They didn't remember K either. Two blank spots on the list.

I looked at the ninth grade pictures before everybody went into high school and hardly recognized any of the names. So many of us scattered. We were together for some years and then gone.

For me that was the norm. I attended four different grade schools growing up. I had to learn how to catch up, fit in, make friends, become invisible and adapt or not.

No lesson here, take what you will from this journey.
I look at those faces and smile. It's probably the only school experience that I remember with fondness. I had so much happiness with my friends there that I forgot the issues of my dysfunctional parents. It was a good thing.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your 1950's experiences...I went to a small catholic school and even today I stay in contact by the help of facebook with many of those students. Some of us are gone now ...but with the memories held sweetly in these black/white photos...our childhood lives on. I can understand the fondest ...these were tender years. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart