Good morning...I will soon hear an old familiar sound as I get up in the morning. The school buses will be running and I will see them going down our street. That signals the day that summer is over for little kids. Some years it is so hot when school starts again, but this year the weather is almost fallish...so schools without air conditioning will be tolerable. I've watched our neighbor kids since the day that they moved in, on their first days of school. They gather on the corner just up the road and in years past their mothers stood with them waiting for the big yellow bus. They look all shiny new with their new clothes, brand spankin new shoes, the girls hair fixed so cute with bows and barrettes, the boys with their new haircuts all of them carrying their new bookbags....all nervous and chattering...looking forward to the unknown.
As "olden" people often say...In my day, it was different. Back in 1943... when I was just starting school ,there were no school buses. We didn't have a car and I remember to this day... that first walk of many blocks to school, holding onto my Mom's hand. After a hug and a kiss and a little talk from Mom...I let go and was on my own. Little did I know,that the first letting go was my first step away from my parents. I turned around and walked the few feet into the building. Washington school was a typical school for that time. The picture I show isn't very good, but this school still exists and has been renovated over the years. The picture looks pretty much like it did back then. The lowest windows on the left were the kindergarten room. I went in the side door and up the stairs, (by mistake) and there was a big round area of highly polished wood flooring with rooms all around. That big area would be used for gym on rainy days and in the winter....as we had no gym.My class room was in the basement and I was shown to my room by a hall monitor. I can remember the smell of that school...the highly polished floor smelled of floor wax and the kindergarten room smelled of lilacs. My teacher always wore the same cologne and I thought it smelled of lilacs. Her name was Mrs Blair...a comfortably "padded" woman with a kid friendly way about her.She wore a soft dress and sturdy shoes like many of our teachers wore. A hanky in her pocket for a little child's tears. I'm sure her comfortable lap held many a child in those days. My word for her would have to be "soft"...soft spoken as well as soft looking. It was love at first sight. I felt safe with her and was eager to learn. That feeling went on through all my school years. I give her credit for giving me the loving start that I needed back then.We learned how to open our new books that first day...opened flat and pages turned one by one so the binding wouldn't crack. We learned that we would have story time while lying on our little rugs that we brought from home. We each had a cubby to keep our rugs in. We would have art...where we would wear our big shirts from Dad's closet to protect our clothes,It was my first experience with painting...and this was the activity that I looked forward to most. We would have music...oh what wonderful music that year. Mrs Blair was a harpist and brought her harp for special school programs.We would create a little band for us to play music...I always wanted to play the triangle. The day my Dad went to war...I got to hold the American flag while our little band played God Bless America. We were going to learn the beginnings of reading and learn our numbers and basic arithmetic. The best time of the day would be our treat before we rested...little individual cartons of milk and graham crackers.Some kids got chocolate milk if they paid a little more. I don't remember ever having chocolate milk. During the year, we would have special birthday treats from my classmates. I do remember all of this and Joe and I talk about our school years quite a bit. I wonder how things have changed since then. One thing that stands out in my mind is the way we started each day...we stood and put our hands over our little hearts and said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. We were very patriotic in those days and I hope that habit continues today.We left the class that day and Mom was there waving to me. We talked about my first 1/2 day and I already had homework...I had to learn how to skip. I had just recovered from polio and didn't know how to skip. So, Mom and I skipped around and around the house that day and by the next week...I had it down pat. Well,I took you back as far as I can remember...I'm looking forward to your comments on what you remember about your first day at school.