I am skipping around a bit in remembering my grade school days. It is so strange how our minds work, well how my mind works. I have been thinking these past few days about Miss Westen, my third grade teacher, and her dreadful essay, "My Summer Vacation". The brain is a huge computer and all night long mine was downloading and every single detail came back to me! I remember everything!
Mrs. Powers was my first grade teacher and her daughter, the prettiest girl in the school by any standard, was my age, in her class, and sitting right next to me! Anne is a separate story
and deserves a whole chapter just for her.
Miss Westen taught second grade and third grade so I had to do the summer vacation story twice although not much was expected the first time around, block printing and a single page but even then she made us do it twice.
Mrs. Clark was my fat fourth grade teacher whose name had escaped me earlier. All I really remember about her class was eating. She always had apples and candy and raw oatmeal mixed with raisons that she would happily share with the whole class. I learned to read in her class, not just words on paper, but to sit down and read a book, to turn the pages in anticipation and develop a curiosity. She taught us to use the library and introduced to me a series on Mountian Men and the discovery of the West.
Fifth grade was the best. It was not only the last year in grade school, we had achieved senior status, not like wise village elders but more like rowdy know it alls. A huge growth spurt takes place during this time. We were no longer snakes and snails and puppy dog tails; we were entering a new phase and had no idea what was going on! The school knew and in the fifth grade we got our first man teacher! Mr. Thomas was a huge man, a football player turned educator and he kept a paddle near his desk and he made sure we could all see it although he never used it. I carry to this day two vivid memories of Mr. Thomas and my fifth grade class.
The first was "Prison Dodge Ball" a game since forbidden in the public school system as being unfair and a little dangerous. We all loved it and looked forward to the rainy days that would prevent us from playing outside and send us to the gym for "Dodge Ball"! It is a team sport but is very dependent on individual skills. You certainly wanted the big and quick on your side!
The cl;ass was divided into two opposing sides and it is this division that caused the game to be considered "unfair", often puttinmg the "cool" and popular kids against the others. Mr. Thomas never allowed that as much as we would always try to do the pairings this way. The division was always random, always different from day to day, sometime alphabetical, sometimes by team "captains" choosing players alternatively, and never, like we wanted to do, the boys against the girls!
I learned to write reports in Mr. Thomas's class and grew to love them. That too is a different story that maybe deserves a chapter on its own. In remembering these very young days of my education I have failed to catagorize them in a logical sequence, instead writing them down as they occur like flashfloods in the middle of the night. Funny I should be thinking about this at all and I don't even remember now what got me started!
Miss Westen taught me imagination. That "flat green box" on the school desk could have been her garbage headed out to trash but she encouraged us to think of it otherwise and instilled in us the ability to dream it to be. to describe it and make it real, to give it life. I knew that this essay on "My Summer Vacation" need not be the truth, didn't actually have to happen. I just had to make it seem that way and describe it as if you were there with me, or had a desire at least, to spend one summer day together!