Friday, August 10, 2007

colored chalk

I told you this one was coming. By second grade...did I mention this was a catholic school? My brother was already graduated. I was in the school without someone to check up on me. These were the days before uniforms. So I can remember a green plaid wool skirt, and maybe a navy colored skirt. I'm sure these were paired with white blouses, and maybe with sweaters. The reason I bring this that I was not only quirky, and clumsy....I dressed funny. This was likely not my mother's fault. It was my own stubborn choice. My first problem was that I wore skirts and lots of the other girls in my class wore slacks. Slacks were not I couldn't own or wear slacks to school.
But we lived in the north I did own a green snowsuit. My snowsuit had an ugly zippered jacket with a hood. Maybe there was fuzzy stuff inside the hood. But I sure didn't have any fuzzy fur on it. But my snow pants I liked. They looked like riding pants...they were green and had a tight leg at the bottom and built in suspenders. I am guessing they were also wool. Well, dumb little girl that I was, I wanted to wear pants to school. So I remember standing in the coat room before class. Do you remember coatrooms?....They were little hallways off the side of the classrooms. Just made to keep coats and mittens and boots in during the day. It kept all that smelly wet wool that dripped water after a recess playing in the snow....kept it all in one place...away from the learning stuff. I would stand in the coatroom after the bell had rung and all the other students were going to their seats....and I would tuck whatever lovely skirt I was wearing into my snowpants. Now, I thought to myself...I look like I am wearing pants. Of course to my student friends....I looked like a goofus who couldn't dress herself. Why would I want to go around sitting all day with layers of wool buttoned into my snowpants?....Quirky comes to mind.
Mentally impaired? Maybe.

But what happened next was not really my own fault. My second grade teacher had been told I could draw....So she would let me draw....again the colored chalk and the blackboard. To cover a big blackboard with colored chalk could take days. I'm sure I had to do other school work during those days too. But the result of dark wool navy sweaters and colored chalk dust made my mother un-nerved. How could her little daughter get so dirty in one day at school. I'm sure I never gave my mother any reason to explain my important and dirty blackboard work. But she maybe called the school to see if I was sitting too close to the black board or being beaten with blackboard erasers after school. Finding that her only daughter was really doing art work....My mother went to town and bought me a smock.
Have you ever owned a smock? Not many students wore smocks to school. In fact I don't even remember a teacher wearing a smock to school. But I....that quirky, clumsy child who couldn't jump rope and dressed funny was supposed to be the only student in that room. The only one wearing a navy blue smock...carefully starched and ironed with red polka dotted pockets shaped like an artists pallet and a big red polka dot bow....bigger than any clown would wear. I was horrified. I already had a problem not fitting in with those other kids....this smock would be the end of me...they would laugh me out of the classroom. Imagined problems are always worse than the real ones...unless you were mary ellen. I could too make it worse....First I would take the darned smock off and stick it into my coat pocket....finding from my chalk filled clothing that I was not wearing the precious cute girly smock...My patient mother would scold me...and wash and starch it again and iron it with it's great big bow for the collar. Then I was sent to school with no blouse under my smock....just an undershirt. Ok....I couldn't sit in class with an undershirt...but, I still remembered I could tuck this terrible sign of how different I really was....right under my clothes. Now I not only looked like I couldn't dress my self...I looked fat too. The ishy scarf that my mother lovingly ironed so it was wide and showy in it's red and white polka dots...was stuffed into my pocket or boots or somewhere I didn't have to wear it. Argh! No wonder I couldn't jump rope...I was fat and dressed funny, and I think I wore pigtails too.
Yes, I can remember these things really good Karen, and I'm writing these stories right here....It should make everyone feel sorry for such a dumb little girl....but you know it could just show you how stubborn and bull- headed I can really be. Sorry.

Weather today 103 in the shade....colors on the ground are yellow and brown....The sheep insist on putting their noses down there anyway trying to figure out what happened to their food.
I wish you all cool breezes and misty steady rain with tall green grass and fluffy hay in the barn.


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Pat's Place said...

Wow! I'm really impressed... Your mother really WAS wackier than mine and here all this time I thought I'd had you beaten in that department. You were also recognized as an artist way younger than I - I only got to spend time at the blackboard in 7th & 8th grades - after my work was done, of course. There was one other talented girl in my class, Adrienne. She was as stuck-up as her name implied - after all, most of us were poor German or Irish blue collar kids!

But by 7th & 8th grades, we were doing wall murals on paper from long rolls posted on the blackboard specifically for the projects. We got to design things to illustrate our history lessons or literature studies, if I recall correctly... And Adrienne got to do half of it. You could tell the difference between her work and mine - I secretly always thought she was better than I was, but never admitted that to anyone else.

I do remember the wool snowsuits, too. Hey, walking a mile each way to the closest Catholic school in St. Paul, MN meant that it was going to be COLD. And school never was closed for the weather because the teachers (nuns) lived across the street and had no problem getting there. And most of the kids lived way closer to school than we did. I was the only kid on my block that went to Catholic school - maybe I was the only Catholic the parish boundaries went down the middle of our street, so the few Catholics across the street went to a different church and school than I did.

I still remember my nose hairs freezing in the winter - even with a wool scarf over my nose on down... Once I got glasses, that was a whole new pain to deal with. On the way to school, we walked mostly northeast - into the cold wind. On the way home, we walked southwest, which seemed almost as cold as it did in the mornings. I do remember once when I was sent off to school with my older sis - so I was 8 or less at the time. The snowstorm the night before dumped mega snow and no one had shoveled yet so we started out walking down the street. My mom came running out after us because she suddenly realized that we were way too short to be seen around the huge snow piles and we would soon be walking on two very busy streets - Cleveland and Randolph Avenues. We were rather grateful to have been rescued because neither of us could see over the piles of snow and we really couldn't tell where we were until we got to a street corner.

Re: uniforms - we had to wear school uniforms right from kindergarten on. But the kinder kids got to wear cute little blue/green/white wool plaid skirts with white blouses. Boys were stuck with dark pants and white shirts, I guess. Who cared, back then??? But then we had blue gabardeen (sp?) jumpers with white blouses from grades 1-8. Of course, in high school both of us wore those weird green gabardeen jumpers with long sleeved white blouses with the SJA emblems on the collars - and a green jacket when it was cold outside. And don't forget the green and white saddle shoes...I never, ever again wore saddle shoes. I know they were once popular, but after wearing THOSE for 4 years, never ever again would such things be on my feet! I suspect you have the same feelings!!!

Good Grief, Girl. You're taking me down memory lane with you all these miles and years I love you, friend.

The Old Shoe

PS My little sister is into memorabilia, too. She's been posting photos on her blog of our old dollhouse stuff!!!


Post a Comment

<< Home