School Days is a reoccurring 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
Paul started kindergarten at age five at a Catholic school in Maine during the early 1960's.
Tell me about starting school or an early school memory.
I went to St. Louis school for kindergarten and first grade. The neighborhood was mostly French Canadians and most of us spoke some French at home. The nuns instructed us in English, but we usually spoke in French on the playground. Norman was my best friend and we talked in French at recess.
During my first year of school, I had a lot of stomachaches and stayed home a lot. I'm not sure why, but it could have been because there was a big bully on the playground. He was big and chubby although I think he was only a first grader. He lived next to Norman. Also, there was a big picture in the hallway of the devil that freaked me out. The devil was black and charred with big white eyes. I looked away every time I passed.
We had to walk to school but it wasn't too far—maybe about two tenths of a mile. There was a puddle on the way home that had water in it from rain or snow melt. I always walked through it. It was deep enough that is would go over my goulashes and get my feet wet. That really exasperated my mother, but she always had a huge glass of milk and a chocolate chip cookie from the local bakery waiting for me when I got home. That cookie was really good.
I don't remember much about what I learned. I do remember that we had to practice a lot of writing and there was a match game that I really liked. Instead of Dick and Jane readers, we had readers that featured John, Jean, and Judy. When I moved to Sacred Heart for second grade, I was very worried that I would not have my John, Jean, and Judy books. They had the same books and I was happy.
In first grade, we had a long term sub that was very strict. One day I was asked to recite an answer and I didn't know it. The teacher put her hands around my neck and shoulders and shook me and said “Petit Paul doesn't know the answer.” I went home and told my mother that my teacher tried to choke me, but she didn't believe me.
Thanks for your stories.