How many of you have heard the old folks telling the story about walking to school, uphill, both ways, into the wind, and it was snowing? This is that story. The real one. She doesn’t mention the stones they had heated on the cook stove and put at their feet to ward off the winter chill.
Compare this experience to today’s children driven to school in the SUV with booster chairs, air bags, seat belts and air conditioning. This is where the grumpy old man starts talking about how pampered the youngsters are today. If the pace of change continues the way it has since Grace went to school in the thirties and forties, life will be pretty exciting at the end of this century. I’d love to be there to see it!
There are little things that keep popping up in my memory like “picking crocus out in the pasture behind the school house.” One spring there was so many blooming + the teacher let us all go out and pick them. They were a welcome sign of spring.
Mark is in the right corner.
Mark was a close friend even before we were born. My mother was pregnant with me, her first child. Mark’s mom, Esther, was an experienced mom pregnant with her third child. They met at the local store, Peterson’s Grocery, on second street, about three blocks from the Pink House. That store is where my mother, nineteen years old, probably learned the important things about getting ready to have a baby.
Mark and I went to the same grade school and high school. We became very close friends during those years. We had the same teachers, friends and experiences for years. His phone number was 252-3024, somehow that number comes to mind right away as I write this. He had two older sisters, Joanie and Susie. They seemed so much older then. They may have been in senior high when we were in grade school.
They lived in rented housing and moved several times, always in the same quadrant of town as I lived in. No matter where they lived Esther always welcomed me with a smile and cookies. Mark and I enjoyed a lot of the same things, science, radios, music, reading, and whatever it is that young boys do.
They threw parties for us in junior high; overnight pizza parties! They would cook up a couple of pizzas. Mark , our buddy John and I would stay up ’till late, talking and playing games. His parents always had board games on hand for us. That and records. They even had a piano! A favorite pastime was to go sledding in the winter. (Well, not really sledding, but who wants to say cardboarding?) Schwartz’s was always the home of choice to go to afterwards because they would have hot chocolate and cookies waiting. After one particularly long winter event at “Cardboard Hill” we stood my frozen jeans up over the hot air register in their living room and watched them thaw out.
I remember trauma on the first day of school, too. In her first letter, Lucy describes her first day of school, and she implies that there could have been tears. I’ll bet that Lucy’s mother had trouble on the first day of school, too, as her daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter all had great reluctance to start school.
Mara (center) on the first day of school in 1986.
When our daughter started, she was not a little reluctant to get on the bus for school. Her brother was four years older, so we thought he could help her navigate the bus and getting into her classroom. That plan worked perfectly until Lon saw one of his friends as he got off the bus. Mara was left alone, scared and wondering where to go. Not a good start.
There was excitement on my first day of school, too. I don’t remember being scared or worried, mostly looking forward to it. One of my best friends that summer had been our neighbor Ray. We started in the same room for first grade in Franklin School in Jamestown. Ray did not like being left alone with all those strange kids, so he made a fuss. Such a fuss that his mother couldn’t leave. She sat in the back, in the cloak room, for the morning.
We’re all a little afraid of something. It helps to have someone along to allay that fear.
At least I didn’t have to bake stones in the oven to keep my feet warm on the way to school.
Originally published 2014-10-13
Lucy writes …
Going to school was a major step for me as I was so shy – of course the first grade meant singing a solo at a program. Our teacher was Miss Niblock and I really loved her. When my Dad took me the first day, telling the teacher “Don’t hurt her feelings or she won’t stop crying until she sees her mother”. Continue reading