Grade School Revisited

Remember the good, the bad, the ugly.
February 28, 2007
Have you ever taken a walk around your old grade school? I'd highly suggest it, but in these days of madness, I doubt it would be allowed.

If I close my eyes, I can walk every hall of my old school.

I can smell the chalk dust and dry erase markers. I can smell the sterile scent of desktop cleaner. I can smell the newness of everything, the new backpacks hanging on the double hooks out in the hallway, and the stiff, brand new uniforms. I can smell the lunchroom; with whatever they're serving in those hard, molded plastic trays and that pungent pink sawdust used for absorbing the puke, following the consumption of said cafeteria food.

I can smell Alicia's Mr. Sketch markers, as I sat across from her during reading and we re-created the covers to the books we were reading. I can smell the crayons in those metallic bowls, we had in kindergarten, as we practiced writing our letters on that lined vanilla paper.

I can hear the chalk clicking against the black board as the teacher wrote out the 15 spelling words we needed to know by Friday- if we got all 15 right we got a colorful certificate, telling anyone who cared, that we spelled all our words right- even "Exclamation".

I can hear the scratchy record player, playing the songs we sang along to, out of those hard covered music books. Sometimes there'd be a dreadful racket as we got our hands on the wooden sticks, tambourines and drums. I can hear the kids on the playground, shrieking with giddy excitement was they flew in circles on the tire swing, the snapping of the plastic beaded jump ropes on the pavement as we jumped double dutch, and the hollow thump of the pink rubber ball as a group of boys played kickball.

I remember the sound of that goshawful fire always took you by surprise, and made you jump 20 feet in the air.

I remember sitting on the pumpkin colored carpet and watching film strips, and reel to reel films of "Free to be...You and Me." I remember those drinking fountains, only 3.5 feet off the ground, and the toilets, also only 3.5 feet off the ground- and an Aqua Net/Malibu Musk haze filling the "lavatory".
I remember reading groups; from "Getting Ready to Read" with the cartoon animals on the cover, looking out at the starry sky, to "Bears" to "Skylights" to "Awards". There was always a little thrill as the teacher brought in the big stack of new textbooks and workbooks, and we handed back the old ones. You always wanted to get a new, glossy book, and not the dull old ones, with a million names in the "Issued To" grid.

I remember opening my purple "Addison Wesley" mathematics book, with the tropical fish on the cover. I was always apprehensive when it came to math- even with those orange counting cubes, math was never my strong point, and it showed, on those "SRA" tests we took every now and then.

Lunchtime was always the best time, though. I'd either take my lunch in my red plastic Silverhawks lunchbox, or get lunch from the hair netted lady, who served me green beans from an ice cream scoop (with my fruit cocktail and pizza). Sometimes I'd trade someone my cheese and crackers for their Giggles cookies.

Remember the nurse's office? Sitting there feeling miserable with a mercury thermometer under your tongue, or one of those blue gel ice packs on a twisted ankle.

Art class left us full of tempera, clay, glitter and glue- our works of art always lined the hallways or decorated the open classroom windows, as the warm spring breeze drifted in.

In computer class, everyone wanted to play Oregon Trail, Suffix Sense and Number Munchers on the COLOR monitors, not the old green ones. And everyone was excited to draw pictures on the Koala Pad, with the wooden popsicle stick- now THERE was technology!

But, alas, now it is time to leave. Line up outside your classroom door, wait for the bell...exit out door "D"- that's the door I'd exit out every day from 1985 to 1987. Always eager to carry the patrol's bright orange plastic flag, get home to grandma's house and eat Chips Ahoy and watch Thundercats and Voltron. Putting off my math worksheet as long as possible...

And... time moves on...
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