My kindergarten year in country school also marked the first year for polio vaccinations, and the year of our first TV. I completed kindergarten through eighth grade at Black Lake and during my terms there, many districts merged throughout Antelope County. Maybe since I learned to read at age four, I breezed through kindergarten. I went into first grade second semester, along with my neighbor, Jeanne. The two of us progressed to second grade our second year of school, and graduated together 12 years later. She’s one month to the day older than me.
I always loved grade school, but I don’t believe that emotion evolved from learning, or even from friendships, as much as from the opportunity to get lost in reading. The days were filled with “best times” as my imagination soared to faraway places. “See Spot Run” from the Dick-and-Jane books had to have been tedious to me after reading from Little Golden Books at home. Since reading has always been my favorite pastime, I surely breezed through the boredom of those babyish expressions and on to the greater adventures found in novels.
We students learned more than the required three R’s—readin’ ‘ritin’ ‘n ‘rithmetic. Instilled in us was a sense patriotism, religious freedom, and independence. The days began with the Pledge of Allegiance, which I always wanted to end with an “Amen.” We took turns making selections. “The Star-Spangled Banner” lines the inside front cover, with a band of stars running across the bottom of the page. Songs of worship is a category in the Contents. The selections about life on the farm include “Over the River and Through the Woods,” a song my grandchildren learned in their Texas Sunday school. There are even Indian songs, which would be listed as Native American in today’s world.
During Halloween parties we bobbed for apples in a galvanized washtub filled with icy water. That was always hard for me, since I feared putting my head in water. We slobbered over messy candied apples and popcorn balls. We sang, sometimes more like yelled, “On Halloween night, I had such fun, I wore a witch’s gown . . .”—lines from a favored song in our little green books.
I hope your early school memories make your heart sing and dance.