Slice 67 of 365
For some reason today I was thinking about grammar school. At least that’s what it was called when I was a kid, now it’s elementary school.
My school, George G. White, was three blocks from my house and I walked every day, rain or shine, heat or cold, bullies or no bullies. It was K – 8 and two floors. I believe it’s 5 – 8 now. I used to walk home for lunch before my mom started working.
I’m not sure when it was built but the main, original school has some age and character to it. I think I was in 3rd grade when they built the new gym and we split half days with another class across the street at the methodist church during construction.
At some point they also built the new media center, we couldn’t call it the library. They were very excited to have the latest technology and new encyclopedias. I believe the librarian was Mrs. Engle. She fit the bill, high collars, gray hair and all. She was stern when teaching but she liked me because I was a boy who liked to read and that was unusual then.
I was there from 1st through 8th grade. I remember my 1st – 6th teachers, after that we started with multiple teachers and switching classrooms, I remember a few of them.
1st grade was Mrs Nestler. I remember that class taking place across the street at the methodist church as well but I don’t know why, too many kids perhaps. That year my younger brother followed me to school one day, still in his pajamas. The school called my mother when we got there but she had already called the police. I sort of remember egging him on to follow me…
2nd grade was Mrs. Ellsworth and that was in the main school on the first floor by the Liberty St. entrance. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I could draw the entire school for you. That was the year I got stabbed in my right arm with a pencil by one of my bully admirers. I still have the scar.
3rd Grade was Mrs. Goldberg. She was my favorite until I hit 6th grade. Her class was on the first floor near the courtyard. That was the year I said my first curse word in class. Only a classmate heard me say it and didn’t turn me in. I didn’t know what it meant, I don’t think she did either.
4th grade was Mrs. Streich. That was my first year on the second floor and where I would mostly stay for acedemics for the remainder of my time there, gym, art, lunch, etc. were on the first floor.
Her husband was in the volunteer fire department with my dad so I used to see her at fire house events sometimes and it was weird seeing your teacher out of school, out of context like that. Scarred me for life.
5th grade was Mrs. Woods, the very worst year of school I ever had. I was an average student who could have done much better with a little direction and coaxing. In 5th grade they added an extra teacher because there were so many students. All the bullies, girls and boys, were also average or below average students. Whether on purpose or not we all ended up in the same class. It might have well just been open season on me. That was also the year I sprained my ankle and was on crutches for several weeks, that was fun. This year is really what scarred me.
Mrs. Woods had no control over the class at all. I was locked in the coat closet at least once a week. One day I got sick of it and just left, walked out of class and walked home. My dad happened to be home early that day and found me on the steps, he thought it was my lunch time. I remember being so angry that he didn’t even know when my lunchtime was but now I get that part. He took me back to school and we talked to the principal, Mr. Perry. I went back to school the next day but not much really changed.
6th grade was Miss Drake, who was officially my teacher, and Mrs. Phillips, they team taught. More often than not we were all in the same room, which was the old library so it was fairly large and besides the new media center and office was the only other room with air conditioning.
This was my favorite year of grammar school. Miss Drake and Mrs. Phillips taught out of the box for that time and generation and started treating us more like adults. I also felt safer there because they didn’t take any crap.
Throughout junior high (now it’s middle school) and high school I would go back often and visit all my teachers, especially Miss Drake. I even wrote to her into my 20s. I’m pretty sure Miss Drake and Mrs. Phillips have passed away. Not sure about the others, except for Mrs. Goldberg they were all kind of old when I had them. Unless that was just my young perspective of them. It has been 35 plus years since I was in 6th grade.
So that’s it. I was thinking about grammar school for some reason today.