Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Random School Clips

Today's post is a hodgepodge of miscellaneous memories from my wonder years in the classroom. I'll just proceed to ramble on, if you don't mind, focusing today on elementary school..

My very first class was kindergarten with Mrs. Lindenberger. I always thought her name was Mrs. Limburger. I guess that's why she didn't seem to like me very much.

Mrs. Suzuki was my 1st grade teacher, at a time when Americans were fearful of a Communist invasion. Do you remember the monthly air raid sirens? Drop drills? We'd be sitting in class listening to our teacher talk when she would stop, an expression of extreme concentration on her face. Suddenly she'd shout, "Drop!" And we'd dive under our desks. I used to think she really heard a potential enemy plane overhead; at times I would hear a plane myself and wonder why she didn't tell us to drop right then, too. The enemies must have sounded different.

Mr. Bell, 4th grade, was cool. In the 3rd grade we all hoped to be assigned to him when we moved up. He let us watch the World Series. It never occurred to me that he wasn't particularly doing us a favor; he was just a baseball fan, lol.

Mr. Avak, 6th grade. I didn't have him for a teacher. I once had to deliver a message to his class when I was a mere first or second grader. I went upstairs to his room and saw the door was closed. Another example of how shy I was - I stood there debating on whether I should just go in, or should I knock, or should I just turn around and go back. I put my hand on the knob, then withdrew it several times. I also turned around but walked back several times. Finally, I decided to turn the knob and walk into the classroom. I did. For a split second everyone stared at me wide-eyed, after which they burst out laughing. They had been hanging in suspense waiting to see who was wiggling the doorknob. I gave Mr. Avak the note then scooted out of the room.

Mr. Morrow, 5th grade. I liked Mr. Morrow. He also let us watch the World Series. I liked him because he was always so calm, never allowing himself to be ruffled. One time the school had a marching contest. The judges were actually people from the military. Mr. Morrow coached us on how to march properly; one thing I remember him telling us was to look straight ahead and absolutely do not even glance to the side, especially at the judges. The big day came and out we marched with all the other classes, including the heavily favored sixth graders. And we won. I can still see Gregory Sandifer, face full of joy, jumping up when we heard the news. And Mr. Morrow telling him to stay still. No matter what, he was always cool and calm.

Mrs. Hill, 4th grade. What do I remember from that class? I remember walking up the stairs making too much noise with my shoes so she stopped all of us and told me to walk back downstairs and walk back up more quietly. I walked down the stairs, tripped over someone's foot and went sprawling. It hurt. But what hurt more was the class must not have seen what happened because they continued heading up the stairs and didn't even stop. So I lay there on the stairs for a moment getting madder and madder, and resolved that when I got back to our class I was going to tell off the kid whose foot I was sure had been sticking out. I trudged up the stairs still steaming and eyed Mrs. Hill as I approached the classroom door. "Rickie, what happened to you?" she asked, her face full of concern. I looked at her and then blurted out, "he, he, he.." and burst into tears. Haha, what a macho guy I was. Then she sent me to the nurse's office and my mom had to come pick me up.

Mrs. Suzuki's class again: John Mueller told the teacher that the brakes in his mother's car didn't work so she drove very slowly. I thought that made sense. Mrs. Suzuki gave John a stern look and told him that was very dangerous and to tell him mom to get the brakes fixed right away. He said he would. He said she drove slowly so what was the big deal, I wondered.

And again, same class, my best buddies were John and Henry. I always thought we would grow up, get married and be neighbors. I pictured mowing the lawn then pausing to lean over the fence and talk to John on one side, or Henry on the other. The next semester John moved away and Henry found other friends. So much for that notion.

Somewhere in the first or second grade, back when music was still part of the basic curriculum, our class learned a song called "The Popsicle Man." Did your class have an autoharp and a xylophone? Ours had both; this particular piece had a simple xylophone part and the teacher chose my classmate, Gordon Nishitsuji, to learn how to play it. It was a big thing, an honor to be singled out by the teacher for such a role and I was among many of our fellow classmates who were disappointed at not having the opportunity. One day we were playing on the school yard when two girls walked past and pointed to Gordon. "That's the boy who knows how to play The Popsicle Man, one said to the other as they stared in admiration. I still remember the pang of jealousy that shot through me when I heard that!

I don't remember the grade but I do remember how I hated having to go to "Speech Class." Once every week or two a girl would come around with a yellow card that said "Speech Class" on the outside. Inside were my name and another kid named Leroy, and the teacher sent us to the basement to meet our Speech teacher. The worst was when the card-carryng girl showed up just as we were leaving the classroom for P.E. I don't remember what we did in Speech Class; was my speech that bad?? I tell people about it now and they all laugh at me. Speech Class? You had to go to Speech Class? Then there's the funny looks they give me. Sheesh.. Maybe that's why I like to write.

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