On blistery winter days we stayed inside at recess time. Early grades performed action songs like “The PawPaw Patch.” Middle grades learned to square dance. Somehow the old Victrola outranked the groans of the older boys as the caller yelled “swing your partner dosey-doe” and “alamand left.”
Younger kids played games such as Drop the Hanky or Hide the Thimble. Older students drew Hangman on the blackboard, stewed over competitive board games, or immersed ourselves in books.
The pages of our “Weekly Reader,” geared especially for each grade, brought the outside world into our tiny protected one. The exploration of space was a hot topic, plus we read about exotic animals and countries outside the United States.
At the end of the day, older students folded the flag that had been raised in the morning. On Friday afternoons we took turns dipping into a bucket of sawdust with a coffee can, and then poured the compound on the floor. We slid through the slick compound as supposedly cleaned the scarred wooden floor. The following Monday, we picked out paper clips, rubber bands, pencil lead, and other foreign objects. Then we put away the sawdust, which was reused either weekly, biweekly, or monthly. The frequency escapes me now.
That room at Dist. #56 was the scene of my first memorable moment of mortification. In third grade I read a Social Studies assignment out loud, and pronounced Puerto Rico “Pure-toe Rice-oh.” The frozen moment in time occurred in front of the whole school—kindergarten through eighth.
Also in the third grade I got up from my desk to ask the teacher a question. I was so engrossed in my reading that I didn’t look up as I walked, straight into the teacher’s desk! The corner of the book hit me in the lower belly area. I passed out and woke up on the floor. The kids told me later that I’d kicked my legs while I was “out.” Mortified again.
Did fun times outweigh bad school experiences for you?