First day of school a special memory

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2017

If I’d ever had five brand new dresses before, I didn’t remember.

But, my granny made me five dresses — one for each school day — out of biddy feed sacks and I didn’t fuss a bit about having to stand still and let her pin them up on me. Usually, Mama would have to get a switch to make me put on my Sunday school dress. But, these were “school” dresses and she didn’t hear a peep out of me.

If I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can bring back that first day of school just like it was happening all over again. I can feel the warmth of Mama’s hand as she walked me up the steps to the schoolhouse. I can smell the lingering whiffs of the sweeping compound used to clean the floors and hear the squeaking of the wood as we walked down the hall.

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I was in “Miss” Burnett’s room. She looked like my granny with her white hair and glasses. They were 100 years old. I liked her right off.

We just registered that day – Friday — and Mama said that I was going to have to wait three whole days before I went back to school. After the weekend, there was Labor Day. That was a holiday, Mama said, so we wouldn’t start to school until Tuesday.

On Saturday, Mama took me to town to the dime store. She bought me a box of color crayons, three yellow pencils and a pencil trimmer so I wouldn’t cut my hand off trying to sharpen my pencils with my Tuf-Nut pocketknife. I got a blue writing table with a picture of a horse on it. But the best thing was a book satchel. It was red, my favorite color, with blue trim and had buckles on it.

I was a proud schoolgirl.

Two of us sat at a table with places underneath where you kept your books and nickel for recess. There was a playhouse in the back of the room but I like going outside. The playground was lots of fun with two metal sliding boards, a huge swing set with board seats on chains and you could stand up and pump high and higher.

The monkey bar was my favorite thing. At first, I just walked one bar at a time. But then I started skipping a bar.

At recess we got chocolate milk in a glass bottle and soda crackers and then got to go outside and jump rope. The rope was made out of cotton and had knots tied on each end. We said rhymes when we jumped except for hot peas, when we were jumping too fast to rhyme. When you got out, you had to turn the rope.

At play period, we played drop the handkerchief, squirrels in the tree, farmer in the dale and statue. If we played nice and didn’t “chop,” we could play red rover come right over.

The rest of the day, we learned things.

Our reading books had big bright pictures and were about a boy and girl named Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. “Run, Dick, Run.” “Run Jane Run,” “Run, Spot, Run.”

The book never said why they were running or where they were going. I wondered a lot about that.

Every day, Miss Burnett read us stories and told us stories. That was my very favorite thing about school. She said the most important thing was for us to be good listeners. We practiced listening a lot because children were to be seen and not heard.

Going to first grade was a highly anticipated and exciting adventure for me.

I would wish that feeling for all children. It’s a very special memory.