What is up?! I have had so much fun reading the articles on this cool site for the past year that I've been inspired to contribute my childhood memories as well. In the following paragraphs I will discuss all the wonderful memories of my everyday life as an eleven year old boy growing up in Iowa during the mid 1990s. The particular memories which I will share with you all took place during my fifth grade year; August 1995-June 1996. This is my first article and I can't wait to read your feedback. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.
Well, of course, the first thing I would do when I woke up would be to turn on the radio. I loved this station that I got out of Rochester, Minnesota called 106.9 KROC. This frequency played mostly what was at that time "modern music". Hearing songs by The Black Crowes, The Gin Blossoms, Stone Temple Pilots, Soul Asylum, Collective Soul, Blues Traveler, and Weird Al ( "Bad Hair Day" was the first CD I ever bought) helped me ease into my day. Before I continue I think that it would be appropriate to tell you about the people who lived in my house with me.
My dad passed away in the winter of 94 leaving behind my mom, my younger brother Jason and myself. By the time this story takes place my mom was seeing a man named Brian and he had two children from a previous marriage, twins, named Molly and Andy who were both in the same second grade class as Jason. We had moved into our new much larger house which was on the outskirts of town in a nice but still developing neighborhood which was located on the edge of a large gulf course. Andy and Jason shared a room while I had a room of my own. Molly had a room of her own as well but she only stayed on the weekends because she lived with her mom for the week.
I would try as hard as I could to be the first one in the shower but with four and on Mondays Molly made five other people in the house this was never easy. Mom and Brian left for work too early to take us to school so we had to take the bus. The bus arrived at the elementary school and I would find my way to my fifth grade classroom while Jason, Molly, and Andy would disembark towards their third grade class. My particular fifth grade class was unique from the other three fifth grade classes in the school because we had two teachers. Mrs. E taught in the morning and Mrs. B taught the afternoon.
Far and away my favorite subject was social studies, which was American history from the age of exploration to the end of the Civil War. I enjoyed the reenactments we did of Magellan's voyage, the Declaration of Independence, and many other events and people from that broad time span. One of our big projects required each student to pick two presidents and write an essay on one and do a presentation on the other. I wrote my essay on Lincoln and gave a presentation dressed up as, fake mustache and teddy in all, Theodore Roosevelt. We were also given the opportunity to break up into teams and play a school year long simulation of Oregon Trail, my team got second place.
You would think since social studies was my favorite subject my favorite teacher would be Mrs. B because she taught that subject. Wrong! She was my least favorite of the two because along with teaching social studies she also taught math and science; my most hated subjects. In all honesty, I had to have been the worst math student that my elementary school has ever seen. Mrs. B and I clashed over math assignments, mostly about me being too lazy to finish them, on several occasions. Most of all however, we just plain didn't like each others attitudes. But enough about work let's talk play. Oh, hold up! Let's eat first.
In the fifth grade I never took my own lunch to school;I always ate hot lunch. I loved to eat pigs in a blanket, PB and J,Mac and Cheese (even though it stuck to your tray) slurping spaghetti, garlic bread, and ice cream dishes. I often traded away my mixed veggies, the pizza because the topping came off and it was shaped like a rectangle, and the lasagna because it was always stale and cold. this reminds me of a lunch room story.
There was a kid in the fifth grade named David he was not very popular and the events of this fateful afternoon did not give him much hope for the future. David wanted to trade an item in his home packed lunch for my hot lunch ice cream. Just as I was about to turn him down his mom, who was the librarian, caught him in the act of trafficking the lunch she " worked so hard to pack." His mom went ape shit letting David know that he was not going to be "a happy boy when you get home." Three lunch tables of fifth graders erupted in deafening laughter. OWNED!!!!!
Outdoor recess on the blacktop in winter brought out our innovation skills in with a new game called "snowball." You see the recess monitors wouldn't allow student on the adjacent snow covered playing field where they loved to play flag football and soccer. Thus they invented a game of their own called "snowball." In "snowball" which was played on the blacktop's only basketball court the rules were a clever not to mention intense combination of basketball and football. Instead of a basketball "snowball" used a white volley ball. A player would carry said ball like a football, never dribbling it, and dodge opposing would be tacklers on the way to the hoop. When talking about my fellow classmates as they I do so because I knew that I was far too much of a weakling to handle the punishment of "snowball." I am sure many of you have seen The Bench Warmers
, well; when it came to playing sports I was even worse than them! Blacktop recess in winter displayed a 1990s youth fashion movement in its entire splendor.
Starter Jackets, aw yeah son, aw yeah!!! Mine, in the fifth grade, was a Phoenix Suns and it looked like this (note: that this isn't mine but a picture of a jacket that is the same pattern and style as the one I had):
I wanted a Seattle Super Sonics because they were my team when I played NBA Jam: Tournament Edition
at my neighbor's but there were none at the store where I bought my Suns Jacket. I had always liked Charles Barkley, more than Jordan or Shaq, so I settled for the Phoenix Suns. A year later my grandma would give me a Chicago Bears starter jacket for my birthday because football had become my favorite sport by then and the Chicago Bears, for better or worse, my favorite team. I was not the only one in my family to have a starter jacket; Jason had Dallas Cowboys, Andy had the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Molly had the Iowa Hawkeyes, and my mother had a Green Bay Packer one. Yes my folks were, and still are, Packer fans and I chose the Chicago Bears figure that!
During the Iowa winter there would be days when the staff, not the students mind you, deemed the weather to be too cold. All our recesses became indoor recesses when the staff said it was too cold. Sometimes a whole couple of weeks would go by without an outdoor recess. Magic The Gathering became a very popular activity among some of my classmates at indoor recesses in my fifth grade year. I personally, never took very much interest in Magic The Gathering, even though my best friend played it and still does. Mostly I would use my indoor recess time to casually socialize, read a book, or just put my head down and take a nap. That year I found out just how much control a teacher could have over a student's recess privileges.
There was a student in my class named Derek and he was the class clown. Derek made fun of everyone but he also laughed when one of us had a clever comeback for him. He just liked to playfully push people's buttons and he never viscously attacked any one in a hateful way. Well, one lunch period Derek was having fun with this new boy named William. William was just taking it and giving as good as he got all in good fun until Derek crossed the line by squirting ketchup and mustard on William's shirt.
William was furious because those were his new school clothes. A lunch room monitor, who had probably been anticipating the day when it would be her turn to drag Derek to the office, did just that.
Our principal and Derek had shared many such gripping meetings of the minds over the past couple of school years. This time, however, our principal was in no mood waste his breath with a lecture he knew would only fall on def ears so he escorted Derek to the teacher's lounge and stood still while Derek told Mrs. E all that had happened. Now, Mrs. E was a very easy going teacher and she never once raised her voice, at least I'd never heard her. Mrs. E, when a student was being disruptive, would cryptically warn them that if he/she refused to cooperate they would spend a weeks worth of recesses inside copying the dictionary. We all chose to brush such idol threats aside because we didn't think that any teacher had the guts to enforce such a sentence, nor that any student would commit such a heinous crime as to render a punishment so humiliating.
Dear reader, we couldn't have been more wrong because as we peered in the classroom door during recess what did we see but Derek sitting at his desk copying definitions from the dictionary with Mrs. E glaring over him! "Holy Shit!" we said to ourselves," she really meant it!" Despite all that I really enjoyed learning from Mrs. E. She taught grammar, writing, and reading comprehension. The books I remember liking the most were Bridge to Terabithia
and The Hatchet
After a day of school my siblings and I would hop on the bus and ride home. If I absolutely had to, or felt like it, I would tackle my homework first. That year I was not involved in any extra curricular activities, oh take that back, I did try to play the trumpet....for a couple of weeks. My major problem with playing the trumpet arose when the print of the notes on the music sheets became too small for me to read with my severely bad vision. I was never very coordinated to play an instrument so I went and told my band teacher, Mr. Letto, that this wasn't really working out and he just thanked me for not wasting anymore of his time. The feeling was mutual.
Once my homework was completed I would immediately check out what was on TV, but I didn't channel surf, because we were without cable for a couple of years, so there were not enough channels to surf. At that point in my life my sense of humor started to mature a little bit. I still would look at cartoons but I also began watching TV shows where the jokes and premises were aimed at a slightly older audience. There were three sit-coms that I made sure to watch each week.
(Note: that I would have placed the first eight seasons of The Simpsons
on this list but by then The Simpsons
had established a Sunday night time slot and I still considered that as the weekend.):
Yeah, I loved these shows and tried to follow them as closely as I could and talking about the episode that had aired the previous evening helped me communicate with my classmates because some of them watched these shows as well. I could tell you in detail what specifically attracted me to each show but maybe in another article.
If there was nothing on TV I would spend most of the evening playing....
I would see how much time it would take for me to get all the rewards. Depending if I were in the mood for a challenge I'd turn the disasters on. I built cities beginning in the early 20th century, the middle 20th century, the early 21st century and the middle 21st century. My college campuses would be surrounded by big lush parks, each city would have a stadium for every sport, the "Llama Dome" would always be on the highest hill, and each road going out of the city connected to all four neighboring townships.
Well, that just about sums up a typical weekday in the life of 11 year old me during my fifth grade year. If this article goes as well as I hope it will you will soon be seeing part two; My Childhood Weekend Memories