Sunday, March 29, 2020

SOL 29/31 & #52 Stories 12/52: School Memories, Grade by Grade

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

The writing group at our church was born out of my friend Shannon's email query: "I was thinking about your challenge to us about writing stories on my way to work this morning.  Yes, I need to do this.  But it will never happen unless I have a deadline so it got me thinking. Ever think about having a memoir/writing group?"

At our first meeting, two weeks later, I shared Allison Berryhill's, What I Remember: Kindergarten - 9 blog post.  Here's my response, written during the 30 minutes of writing time that we shared together. 

School Memories – Quick Write
 MI Ward Writing Group, Feb. 16, 2020

Kindergarten – The playhouse! The kitchen, the wooden ironing board and iron. Our teacher used to fold a large piece of butcher paper in half for the “daddy” to read the newspaper while the “mom” cooked in the kitchen ad ironed clothes.

1st Grade
I remember pages of dittoed pictures that we colored, specifically one of a bird.

2nd Grade  
We moved to McAlester to 1011 North D the summer before second grade. Mrs. Truttman was my teacher And she shared poems with us. “The Sugar Plum Tree” was a personal favorite. Mrs. Truttman created a sugar plum tree in the display case that faced the hallway and opened from our classroom. We got a treat at the end of the day or was it just once a week?
I was totally puzzled by the phonics worksheets, a daily staple, having learned to read without phonics. Why did I need to make those funny marks above the letters and know if the vowel was short or long to read the words I could already read?

3rd Grade
Mrs. Crowder was my teacher and this was the year we saw our teacher cry when she learned that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

4th Grade
Mrs. Frew and lots of preparation to get ready for our new classmate, Charlie Tipps, who transitioned to our class from the state school for the blind.
Charlie who played the piano beautifully
Charlie who could identify each of us by our footsteps
Charlie who miraculously read braille and taught us how to use his stylus to punch out words
Charlie who waited patiently while I set up his math problems with metal pegs
Charlie who stayed with our class all the way through school and received a standing ovation at our graduation ceremonies!

5th Grade
Was this the year we did a square dance for 4-H? Our moms made our twirly skirts out of red gingham check with matching neckerchiefs for the boys.

6th Grade
I think Mrs. Rains was my homeroom teacher. She swatted me playfully on the bottom with her wooden paddle for being in her teacher closet. I still love teaching supplies.
“We’ll remember always graduation day.
At the school party, we all had fun.
We laughed until the day was done.”
I can’t remember the party, but I remember the lyrics and the tune to the song.

7th Grade
Junior High and new friends – Jan Rodden and Susan Roberts
French with Mrs. Massaro and English with Mrs. Powers (Camel Lips) who introduced us to Penrod by Booth Tarkington with its luscious vocabulary.
And mimeographed pages of poems that were part of our poetry packet:
He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle  that took him in!
-       - Edward Markham
I still remember the poem and author more than fifty years later.
And the lovely rhythm and rhyme of “Sea Fever.”
Chorus with Elizabeth Brigham, why do I remember her first name? She had a crooked hip which caused her to have an unusual gait.

8th Grade
Motormouth Williams for English. I shutter to think we actually called our teacher that and I wonder what my students called me behind my back. She did talk REALLY fast! And now I understand, there was so much she wanted us to learn and never enough time.

9th Grade
Alphabetical seating in Miss Dempsey’s room meant that a certain cheerleader (name remembered, but not recorded, in order to protect the not so innocent) was always seated near me. And she would get so angry when I wouldn’t let her copy off me during tests.
Miss Dempsey encouraged me to read Wuthering Heights which I hated and didn’t really understand. (Mrs. Lewallyn had me read Silas Marner in fourth grade. I didn’t like it either.)

10th Grade
Finally I was in high school! But I only had one class in the high school building. I had four classes on the first floor of the junior high: Health, French, Speech, and English (Mrs. Thrasher).
Two classes in the junior high in the morning, then a hike to the 4th floor of the high school for Geometry with Mr. George (a distant relative). After Geometry, it was off to the gym building for Home Economics and then back down the hill to the first floor of the junior high for two more classes.

11th Grade
Mrs. Howard for English who taught us serious research skills complete with note cards and a bibliography
Driver’s Ed with Mr. Howard, English teacher's husband and football coach The most important thing he taught me: “Laugh when people do stupid things on the road. Call them clowns and don’t’ let them get to you."

Senior Year
Only three classes – English with Mrs. Thrasher again (with lots of independent study in the library, for the academic contest at Southeastern College in Durant)
Chemistry with Mr. Powers (such a tough class for me) Best friend Jan always wanted to “understand" it, I just memorized what I needed to know for the tests.
Charlie Porter, my lab partner, and I had an explosion in chemistry lab. I think we were making oxygen. I recall telling him that something wasn’t right because we could see something in the beaker and we weren’t supposed to “see” oxygen.
And DE (Distributive Education) before heading to Montgomery Ward to work every day from 12 (or was it 1?) until closing time at 5.
It was not a stellar year of high school, but I did manage to save a lot of money for college!


  1. What a fun walk through memories! I chickled at the male/female roles in kindergarten! Reading through these, I see hints of being a teacher someday...the teachers closet, not seeing a need for phonics worksheets, memorizing poems. What a fun slice.

  2. This is an awesome walk down memory lane. I think I’m going to try this out in my notebook and challenge myself to see what I remember. Thanks for the idea, Ramona.

  3. I love this. Like Stacey, I want to try this out in my notebook as well! Thank yoiu for sharing so much of your school journey with us, Ramona!

  4. Lots of fun memories! Your love of poetry started early! Aren’t you glad for having those teachers?!
    Don’t feel too bad about that nickname... we called a sixth grade teacher (one of a very few men) in our elementary school “Miller the Killer.”