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Cowboy Rick Getting Ready for School - August of 1957
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 Labor Day.
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.

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