Saturday, March 10, 2012

School Days--Mary Ellen

 I hope that School Days will be a recurring feature in which I ask people about their early memories of school. Everyone has a story to tell about this and I hope to give them a voice here. 

Here is today's story.   

Mary Ellen started school in 1957 at age six. She attended school in a small West Virginia town.

Tell me about starting school or an early memory of school.

Mary Ellen -- First Grade, Age Six
I don't remember much.

I started school in the first grade when I had just turned six. The school was in a complex of three turn-of-the-century buildings. One was for the older kids, one was the gym, and one was for the younger kids where I went. The buildings were old red brick with oiled wooden floors. When you entered the school, there were wide, steep steps that went to the second floor. I remember them as concrete, but I'm not sure if that makes sense now. I fell down them once, but didn't get seriously hurt. On the second floor, there were two classrooms—one on either side of the steps. My classroom was on the right hand side. The classroom on the other side had a fire escape that was a long enclosed tube. When we had a fire drill, we went down that tube. Other times it was locked at the the bottom.

When you went the other direction away from the big steps, there were a few steps down to where the boys and girls bathrooms were. The boys bathroom was on the left and the girls bathroom was on the right. There was a janitor's closet between them. One time I got lost and ended up in the boys bathroom. The janitor found me and directed me back to the girls bathroom.

The cafeteria was on the first floor on the left. We got milk in bottles here with round cardboard lids like Pogs. There was also another classroom on this floor on the right.

My teachers name was Mrs. McCullough but that was hard for first graders to say, so she told us to call her Miss Taylor.

One day we had to line up in the gym for TB tests. I got very scared and cried and cried. They tried everything to get me to stop and to take the test. I even got offered a candy bar, but I refused. They had a make up day for the test that was held at the public nurse's house. My mother took me there for the test and made certain that I got it.

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