Friday, August 10, 2012

Sharing Memories: First Grade at Henley Grade School

         Thank you to Lorine McGinnis Schulze over at Olive Tree Genealogy,  for her ongoing series about Sharing Memories.  She says, "We all want to find information on our ancestors and are overjoyed to find an ancestor’s diary or journal. But what about our own memoirs? It's important as genealogists that we not forget about writing our own story. We may think writing about ourselves is boring or egotistical but stop and think how excited your descendants would be to find a journal or dairy that their great great grandmother (you) wrote."

          Lorine has been posting a topic every Sunday since December 8, 2009, which gives me lots of food for thought and writing. In addition, there are no rules, you can jump in when you want, choose any topic that takes your fancy, write when and what you want to write -- no rules.    My kind of series,  since I dinna seem to do to well under hard and fast rules.

          For this inaugural  piece I am skipping to a prompt from Week 1 of 2012, memories of the first day of school and first grade.


          I was only five years old, and wouldn't turn 6 for two more months, when my mother took me to my first day at school. Not turning six for two more months doesn't sound like much, but I was always the youngest in my grade -- academically not a problem, but socially and physically I was about a half year or so behind my classmates. That would remain so until I was in high school.

          Henley grade school, folks dinna start saying Henley Elementary until years later when the Junior High School was built --after I graduated from high school.   In retrospect, it was rather a small brick school house with a row of classrooms on each side of a long hallway. I thought it huge, but there were probably only about six to eight classrooms, and a small cafeteria/gym.    

          Back to the first day at school.  My memories were of a huge gigantic building and my mother firmly clasping my hand in hers as she towed me behind her into the building.  There were lots of kids --- at least to me there were more kids than I had ever seen before. Sometimes I had played with my two cousins, and once in a while mother would take me down to Kigers who had a boy, a year or so younger than me, but mostly I was with adults, which made me a bit out of sync with my classmates.  

          I was intrigued by the little tables and chairs -- it felt like a play house. I liked having a table to myself, but we had to share, two to a little table. I must have met my first grade teacher on that day, but I don't remember her on  that occasion, but her name was Hattie Carden.  Of course, I only knew her first name years later when mother talked of her.  To me, she was Mrs Carden (Her name may have been Garden or Gardner, but to my mind, she was Mrs. Carden, and that she will remain).  She was old (probably at least 40 or so) and had a ruler that she tapped the hands of children who were being loud or unruly.  I don't think she ever "tapped" my hand with the ruler because I loved her.  She was my favorite teacher for years, though I don't know why.  Probably, because she indulged my pretentious play acting.  According to mother, Mrs Carden told her that I was a very imaginative child and was always "play acting."  Hmm, some things never change, now I just write my dreams and play acting.

          I do remember being impressed with the cart that was brought to our room for mid-morning snacks -- except they always had milk and I hated milk.  The cookies or graham crackers, however, were a treat.  Yes, back those days milk and cookies or graham crackers were snack appropriate  --- no one worried about "lactose intolerance" or "sugar high's" -- but it was the cart on wheels with two levels of trays that was most interesting to me.  Stacks of little napkins, milk glasses and plates of cookies or crackers covered the trays and were handed out by the cafeteria cook.  I think it must have seemed like having a tea party with my dolls  --- even now, a hostess cart will bring a mile with a glimmer of a memory, which I am sure goes back to those early amazing rolling snack carts.

          One of the boys I met on that first day was Jack, he would later become a cousin of sorts, as he was a cousin of my future husband. Jack was short like me,  always fiesty, and a friend all through our twelve years at Henley Schools.   Anyhow, on the last day of our first year at school, my mother was talking with Jack's mother and she said" I thought you had a little blond-haired boy?"  

          "Yes, he started the year out blond, but his hair got darker and darker."

           I am sure I must have met other children that year because out of our high school (Henley High School) graduating class of 35, twelve of us had started school together in the first grade.  But I only remember Jack, whose blond hair turned as dark as my own.  Funny, how one remembers little things like that like the color of a classmate's hair -- but then my hair was always a glossy dark brown -- never blond.

~ ~ ~
 © Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications



  1. I also remember not liking the milk in first grade. Since I lived on a diary farm, I'd always drunk raw milk--and I thought that pasteurized tasted funny. I used to give my small glass bottle of milk to a boy in my class who would drink both his milk and mine. One day, I dropped the bottle when handing it to him, and it broke making a terrible mess. After that my teacher made me drink my milk--and I eventually got used to the taste.

    1. Cute story, have you told that story to your kids and grandkids? BTW, I do now remember those little glass bottles of milk --- I had forgotten how the milk came, only that I hated it.