Sunday, June 29, 2014

Second and Third Grade

Second Grade was not very interesting. The teacher found that I was scratching my head too often and discovered that I had head lice. I thought it was from our laundry tub where we got a bath every Saturday. My mother got coal oil, whatever that was, and my head got soaked every night and washed every morning, and finally they disappeared. I had my hair combed with a fine tooth comb every day just to make sure.

The rest of the year was not that interesting. We walked through a long double meadow, split in the middle by a copse of tall trees. Once I got threatened by a heavy set boy, but I ran and he did not follow me.

Snow om the winter was no fun. It was knee deep in the meadow which made walking to school difficult, but not impossible. Summer made up for it all. The buttercups and for-get me-nots would bloom one after the other. I would pick some for my mother. One day I did find a dime, so when I got home I went next door to the country store, owned by Mr. Disascio (never knew how to spell his name) and his wife and son, Tony.
[Mrs. Disascio made the most delicious spaghetti, and waffle cookies filled with some sort of cream. His father ran the store and used produce from his own garden to sell during the fall. Those days were idylic.]

At the store, I bought some candy and a cone of ice cream and took the candy to my mother. She was pleased with the 'gift.'

Third Grade was not what I liked, but only after my teacher punished me by sending me to my twin brothers's first grade class.  I had found a small sparkly disk on a chain and had given it to the classmate who did wonderful elocution poems for us in class. Dorothy was her name. She knew Hiawatha and The Face on the Barroom Floor; all of both long poems.  Well, I told my mother about it, but she misconstrued what I told her and insisted that I get the bauble back. I did try . . . even visiting the girl at her house. But she refused to return it to me. My mother asked about it often, but I could not say I had gotten it back so she was unhappy about it.  I made one last effort. Dorothy was sitting behind me in class and I turned around and asked her one more time. When she again refused, I got out of my seat and fought with her.

The natural result was I had to be punished and the teacher knew exactly what would hurt the most. My mother found out about my visit to First Grade at lunch time, and later when Dad came home from work, I received a spanking for fighting in the school room.

From that time on, I never made another 100 in spelling and never got another 100 in any class I attended.
No one had asked me why I did it, but I never forgot. I guess even my penmanship went downhill a bit, even though I like to draw the slanted up and down bars and the round over and around tubes of lines meant to teach us the correct method for writing legibly.

I almost forgot . . . my twin brothers, being in first grade . . . got to have their First Communion that year and I happened to be a pink Angel to guide them on their way down to the altar.  The picture that was taken for that even portrayed me as a very grouchy angel. The ceremony must have occurred after my spanking, because I was not a very happy angel.

One thing about the school I was in that year (3rd grade): I learned in religion class that the church made a big effort to convert a lot of people during the Middle Ages. I don''t know why the subject came up but I do remember that it seemed to be a bad time for the church. [Later in college when I found out how they had done the conversions, I was so shocked that I could not talk about it for over two years.]

That summer, I was playing in the peach tree in our yard with the angel robe on and the robe caught on a branch. I fell out of the tree [not very far down thank heavens, so I broke no bones] but it did take my breath away for a moment.  It was also the last time I ever went into the tub outside with only panties on. I figured that I was too grown up to be bare chested any more, so wore T-shirts from that time on, when my bothers and I went for a summer dip into the old tub. I did not learn to swim until years later.

It was also around this time that I went to Chester Creek with my cousins and my aunt. We were having a lot of fun, but one of the more cheerful ones, turned over the inner tube float that I was using. I thought I was going to drown, but my other cousin pulled me up out of the water right away. It was not as frightening since my cousin was so quick to get me out of the deeper water. She turned to be my favorite cousin, Sophie.

A short note about my penmanship. When I grew up and someone invited me to a Calligraphy class, I cheated by printing a calligraphic script phrase on thin paper. So that I could just write over what I could see under my good page.  It always made a good impression then with the teacher. But that was after seven children and a lot of grief from the marriage I thought was a good one.  Oh well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Skipping to First Grade

First grade was something that was a bit of a memory lost for me. Previous to going to school, I was put into a dance class (to make sure I could perform like Shirley Temple, I surmise) and at  home, my father read me the comics every night, thank heavens.

I say, thank heavens, because by October, I got sick. I had measles, mumps and whooping cough, one right after the other.  During that time, I was able to read a lot of my children's books, including the Night Before Christmas, my favorite.

My first day out of bed was Christmas morning. I got up and got dressed in a neat dark blue sailor dress with a red bow tie in front.  I had asked for a bicycle for Christmas and I got one. OMG.  It was there leaving against the banister of the newest apartment we had, that over a shoemaker shop. My heart dropped. It was the wrong bicycle.  Was Santa a fault or . . . ?

The bicycle was a light green boy's bicycle with fat balloon tires. I had wanted a bicycle, but, . . . I was a girl, not a boy. The poor bicycle never got ridden the whole time I had it and even after we moved across from my father's work, I never even considered it mine

First grade after I returned to school, I remember being on stage at school in a cute red satin Russian outfit. It had short skirt with a white feather hemline trim, and red vest with a white blouse, and a tiara of red satin like the skirt, trimmed in silvery ribbons and a lot of long colored ribbons hanging down from each side.

A doll visited our first grade. She had all sorts of clothes to wear, even pajamas. She had a toothbrush and a hair brush and her own soap and washcloth. She was beautiful. Her owner said that she herself, never used soap on her face, but she neglected to tell us that she used creams and ointments. It took me a long time before I figured out that the creams and ointments had more to to with the face of the doll's owner than the doll that used soap and water.

Regardless when spring time rolled around, and the whole school was having a morning recess in the school yard, there were several wagons outside the school yard.  One in particular was a Bread wagon, all green and gold with big wheels with yellow spokes and a red or brown rim.

For some reason, the horse pulling the wagon spooked from something on the road, and it frightened him so that he ran right over the curb, breaking one wheel on the wagon, and headed straight into the school yard.  I was way in the back leaning on the small metal bannister because I had just recently returned to school and was still not able to play with the children. I was taking it "easy."

All the children started screaming at once, and running to get away from the horse and wagon.  A man, from a different wagon ran into the yard from the street, grabbed the horse's harness and stopped him in his run towards the children. I could not understand why everyone was screaming and crying. I saw who the man was and he was perfectly capable of stopping the horse. It was my father in his milk  run, or he was checking up on whether I was doing well in school.

I never told anyone who the man was, nor did anyone ever ask me about him. I did think it was neat, but no one, not even my father at home, said a word about catching the horse.

Back in the school room, probably one another day, I was reading my reader.  I said, "Oh, Nuts!" A common cuss word for children. My seat mate was aghast. "You said a bad word."  My response was, "No, I did not. It is here in our book."  And I showed her the page next to the picture of a nut tree right next to the text. That was that. She never said another word.

In the class, we had only one black boy learning his ABC's. but most of the time he fell asleep. When my sister went to that school 16 years later, she was the only white girl in the class. The neighborhood had changed that drastically.  In the early years, though I had to walk home and the shortest route was through the black neighborhood. I only could do that one time, because the children there ganged up on me and I guess they threatened me, so I never went through the area again.

By summer time, we had moved across the street from Miller and Flounder's Dairy, where my father worked. It was a white house with two floors. My father put in an oil heater in the fireplace and a plywood, high step-over door in the archway to the porch.  He then rented the upstairs to an older couple who, although I would go upstairs and read the Sunday comics where my father stored them in an extra room on the second floor, I never met them.

Not even when we got the chicken coup from the neighbor behind us who was moving to the city. Mom would make the attic into a nursery for the new chicks and I would visit them all the time.
We would have Sunday dinner, a chicken that she would prepare in the morning, starting with cutting off its head, and we would eat him in the afternoon. We also had eggs every morning for breakfast.