Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dick and Jane

Really!
My schooling was really all about Dick and Jane. That was how we learned. First we had a big book on an easel in the front of the schoolroom. The book opened from the bottom so that pages turned over the top of the easel. We learned great words...like "Oh oh" and "Look, look, look!" The use of those words over and over helped us to recognize the words the next time we saw them....yup....Even the worst reader could read some of those words, sometimes.
May I quote directly from the "New Look and See Basic Reader." This was actually later than the edition I learned on...it is from 1956. Page one....Look....page two... look look.....page three...oh oh oh....page four...oh oh oh look....page five.... Jane.
I suppose page five actually indicates a new chapter. And would require a day of teaching the word Jane to the class. Whoopee....Just imagine the boredom in those classrooms. As I remember there was a lot of staring out the windows....even if there was nothing to be seen. Clocks were definitely in...they were on the top of the black boards in every classroom....We could see the little minute hands jerk with every minute ticked off of our day.
All of the class work involved these readers. We sat in reading groups. We wrote words like look...over and over on graph paper...that paper made it possible for the teacher to correct the smallest mistakes...."your "o" doesn't touch the line here...that's wrong...go do that word ten more times. How many is ten more times?...Don't know haven't gotten to counting yet. We cut out little words from a sheet of paper and pasted them on another piece of paper....hey, I don't remember why we did that...but I'll imagine there was that goopy library paste involved. Again we could get corrected....You cut into that letter....don't cut so crooked next time....you pasted it on the wrong line...maybe you need summer school....Argh! That dreaded term...school during the summer. Lots more boredom there. And remember these schools didn't have air-conditioning.
Some of the time was also spent drawing pictures of Dick and Jane. That was where I came in.
I liked to draw. My grandfather had a drawer in the library table where a coloring book and a box of 8 fat crayons were kept. I still have several drawings I made of my grandfather sitting in his easy chair, with his legs crossed, and wearing glasses. Why....do you think....would I still have drawings I made from my preschool days?
Easy answer, my family never threw anything away.
All bills were kept in all envelopes....sometimes there would be notes on those envelopes...had to keep them....all adding machine tapes were carefully kept inside the banking envelopes....just in case we needed to check the figures again....which, of course, meant doing a new tape to check the old one.
Some good things can come from keeping everything....like me....I can go back a year and find every email written to me....used to keep them for longer...but it tends to mess up the computer memory. Back to drawing. I liked to draw. I had a black board....yes in those days they were the color black. And this may have been a hand-me-down from my brother...or someone else. I don't think my parents would have bought me anything with operating parts.
My mother used to tell me she couldn't understand how my brother could play with toys for years....and those toys would still be perfect....and I would take a toy apart and break it in minutes. I'm likely still like that....how does this work?...maybe I should look inside. Anyway, my blackboard had a scrolling bunch of pictures on paper at the top. You may have seen one in an antiques store....I'm mostly antique now....whatever I had as a child is way past collectible.
The scroll of paper started with letters and numbers and then went to simple shapes and then actual pictures that you could copy in chalk on your board. Over and over. I like doing things over and over. I'm not into doing things differently much....If I bake bread, I like the same recipe....If I clean house....that's "if"....I do it in a certain direction. Top to bottom...front to back. Dang, I'm predictable! I like drawing or painting the same thing. But drawing was easy for me....I couldn't jump rope to save my life....I don't think I could shoot marbles well, or jacks either....I definitely couldn't play ball.
Some of my problems come from being left handed....I could never figure out how to hold a bat....from looking at someone else....and I must have been born with two left feet...because jumping rope was a life-changing event. Think about recess in a school. Games of ball are started by the boys...in my day, games of jump-rope were started by the girls. My eye hand coordination was always off....and my feet just couldn't be taught. I would volunteer as perpetual twirler...or some such thing....anything to keep from tripping over that darn rope over and over again. You just have to imagine the temper tantrums at home as one after another of my family members tried to teach me to jump a rope...I remember even my daddy could do it.....ARGH!!! How to get picked last for every game on the playground....oh we don't want her...she can't even jump rope.
But I could draw pictures. You tell me what you want, and I'll draw it....I was pretty good at making perople move around...on paper...not in person. And the first grade teacher liked to see what odd way I would take in telling a story in pictures. She sent a roll of my art work to her teachers in the big city.....it was the story of Peter Rabbit. And my mother was very upset that she couldn't get her hands on that roll of paper to save it....remember we HAD to save everything....So during the evenings, I had to do another story of Peter Rabbit for my mother to save on the back of a calendar. (still got it) I'm guessing we didn't have shelf paper in our house. I remember having a terrible time coming up with a piece of oil cloth for school. My parents must not have liked the stuff...so we didn't have any. And I couldn't walk to the store...because we lived in the country. And we didn't have a car...we had to use my daddy't truck....the one he used for his business...to get to any stores. I must have gotten bad stars for weeks because I couldn't get a piece of 12 inch oil cloth for the top of my desk.
Did you know about stars?....I'm sure we got stars on our foreheads too. You've been a good little girl today...so teacher licks a paper star and glues it to your forhead. The stars came in shiny red and green mostly. I had to take piano...and the teacher there didn't take up your forehead with the stars...but she had cute little pictures of kittys and frogs and birds all with a musical theme...and if you practiced good...never did that...you got a star thing on the back of your hand. If you didn't practice good....you got a whack on the back of your hand with a pointer....smack....that will teach you not to practice. Lord knows why I had to take piano...but those teachers never spent much time giving me stars.
I did have two major events in school. Because I could draw good....I got to do the christmas nativity scene on the blackboard. In colored chalk! More about that later. I also was sent to different classrooms because I had memorized a poem during class....and I apparently didn't forget it under pressure. Just imagine a little first grader being taken into rooms with desks as high as a giant would use....and you've got to say the poem...complete with gestures. Good grief....I suppose that doomed me to teacher's pet too.
You know those early school days were so traumatic...that anything after that should be taken with a grain of salt. Kids are kids....and adults should be adults....
Speaking of adults. We are hovering in the nineties....all eatable life forms are yellow....sheep are hanging around the water buckets...which last about an hour without refilling. Maybe 6 sheep at a time are out in the field....and they run for cover with their heads down. I'm not sure if that is to get in the shade fast...or to avoid the b-17 horse flies that seem to like this heat. I warned a neighbor after flagging him down about a cat in the area....and I moved one of my pet rams from the south meadow to the front ram pasture....we didn't go out to light up the night sky last night...because the vet is really worried about our dumb behaviour.....he tells me I'm not the safari type.
Hope it's cool and raining like crazy where ever you are.

1 Comments:

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Your memory is quite remarkable. Have you written down many of these stories? I don't remember much from my childhood other than Christmases and birthdays. Oh, and the times that I got my first puppy. And rabbit. But that's it, really.

 

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