Rick Getting Ready for School - August
Back in August of 1957, we still lived in Indiana. My family moved there
for a short time so that my dad could find work. I attended kindergarten
for a short while, but my family decided to move back south before the
start of the new school year. Back then school started in September after
I'm not sure who decided to begin starting school in August when the days
can be hotter than the hinges of hell but I'm convinced they are sadists.
I remember that my mom took me to Jasper and bought me some new blue jeans,
a couple new shirts, some fat pencils with a pencil sharpener, and some
paste. I know this must be twisted, but I love the smell of paste and
of a freshly sharpened pencil. I also inherited a Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox
that had belonged to my older brother. I was set.
My first grade teacher was Mrs. Carter. She was a kind but stern woman
who embarrassed me as badly as I had ever been embarrassed. I was quite
then (if anyone can believe that) and I didn't want to disturb her while
doing the lessons, so I wouldn't get up and go to the trash can when I
messed up a sheet of paper. I simply wadded it up and put it in the little
compartment under my desktop. That would not have been so bad, but I forgot
to take it out for a few days. Even that would probably have gone unnoticed
but one Friday, I had eaten half an apple and.....you guessed it, I put
the uneaten part in my desk and forgot about it. On Monday just after
class began, apparently Mrs. Carter go a whiff of the rotting apple and
began her investigation. When she got to my desk, I knew I was busted.
As she began pulling the wads of paper and other stuff out of my desk,
her hand found the rotting apple and she withdrew her hand as if she had
come across a copperhead snake. She ordered me to take the stuff out of
my desk and hold it up for the class to see. "Guess who's getting
a bad grade in housekeeping," she chided. I felt small.
That was actually a valuable lesson because no one, even to this day,
ever says "you're desk is a mess." Doesn't happen. Every day
before I go home, I make sure my desk is clean.
I'm excited for the kids starting to school. It's a new chapter in their
lives. Some will excel and some will falter, some will begin to understand
who they are and what they want and some will still be wondering when
they're 50. But learning new things is important. You will never grow
old as long as you are learning. Every day's a school day.