Tuesday, July 03, 2007

School Days

Talk about a blast from the past. I just got done looking at a mid-1950s photo of the 4th grade class from Shepherdstown Elementary School.

There we were—all 37 of us—with Mr. Ryder, our teacher. While most of my schooling was in Northern and Southern Rhodesia, for a year from mid-1953 to mid-1954, my parents returned to the U.S. My parents used my grandparents’ house as a home base. Consequently, I finished 3rd grade in local schools, and began 4th grade.

This is the class whose photo was taken in front of the school; 
I have circled my face to save you time trying to find me.


Staring at those faces from so long ago, I began remembering details. The girl standing on one side of me was Ginny. I remember her—she was very odd. She was always unkempt; her hair was a total mess. Her clothes were worn, tattered even. And she had a distinct unclean smell. Maybe fourth grade is a little early, but she definitely had body odor. Someone had to talk to her about taking baths.
I don’t remember much of that year in fourth grade. Before the end of the year, my parents returned to Africa and I with them. By the time I rejoined the class for my high school junior and senior years, some of the kids had gone—for example, Ginny. But many of the same kids were still there.

So now with this old photo in one hand, and my high school year book in the other, I can look at faces from grade school, from high school—and from this year’s reunion. School days! School daze!





So where on the earth did I get this old photo? We just had our high school class reunion, but one of the women from my high school class, Nancy, couldn’t attend the reunion. Instead, she sent along a treasure. She had unearthed this old photo and shared it.

14 comments:

cat59 said...

Wow; 37 children in one class. Nowadays people would be screaming about that class size! It's interesting that even though you spent a lot of your childhood out of the country, when you came back to the U.S. you saw some of the same kids in high school. I went to 4 different elementary schools and then we moved again between elementary and junior high and mosstly we were just moving around within one state.

Body Soul Spirit said...

Fourth grade was my first year in a Canadian school, and I just remember the anxiety of transition. I doubt I would remember a single name, except for my teacher. But we continued to move frequently in Canada, and I changed schools every year or two.
That is a big class!
ruth

Anvilcloud said...

As my own pictures will attest, classes were bigger back then, but they were probably still easier to manage with tighter discipline and fewer external pressures.

Climenheise said...

I did Grade Four in Woodbury, between years at Hillside Junior School in Bulawayo. I remember that the teacher couldn't handle my way (learned in Bulawayo) of doing long multiplication. I went from left to right with the numbers, and she insisted on right to left. My way couldn't possibly give the right answers! I remember also the difficulty of writing the cursive letter r, written differently in Zimbabwe and Pennsylvania. Your year at Shepherdstown must be the time that I remember sledding in Grantham: unless my memory as a three year old is all wrong.

Mary said...

Donna, this might sound strange in 2007, but I attended school with the same kids for 12 years. We never moved.

My Catholic first grade class was large - 50 students. I have a picture of us taken in a four-room school house with wooden floors and outside lavs. I had a young teacher, Miss Griffith, who cried often. I didn't understand then. I do understand now.

I also had a classmate I didn't like very much. Her name was Sharon and she had regular nosebleeds. Poor kid.

possumlady said...

Like Mary, I attended Catholic schools from 1-8 grades, then again through high school. I do remember having at least 30 kids in my classes. We all stayed together throughout grade school, then an equal amount went to the local public high school as went to the private Catholic one.

We should be having our 30th high school reunion this year. I haven't heard anything about it though. I didn't go to the 25th as it was during my work's board meetings. Some friends called me up on my cell phone from the reunion and they passed the phone to a number of folks I haven't talked to since high school! I even found out one guy, who was in the cool crowd at the time, said he had a crush on me all throughout grade school!! That made my day!

Laurie said...

Like Mary, I was in the same school system all 12 years. I can't imagine what it was like for people who moved around. Of the 36 people I graduated with, 22 of them started school with me in first grade.

Cathy said...

It's interesting to me, Donna, that those children who were underprivileged (what a strange word) - drift forward in our memories. My memory is of Rose Ellen Woodring. I'm sitting in the living room here on the Cape with my visiting sister-in-law who teaches in my old hometown. She says the Woodrings are still in the area and the cycle of poverty continues. I remember that distinct sharp smell to which you refer. So sad.

Elaine said...

Aren't reunions great? I never used to want to go but now that I am longer in the tooth I've got over that. I, too, have a school picture of the same vintage. I'll have to see if I can dig it out and put it up for you and all blog readers.
Thanks for the memory jolt!

nina said...

I've tagged you for the Eight Random Facts meme (unless you'd rather not, that's ok, too) http://natureremains.blogspot.com/2007/07/eight-random-things.html

beth said...

Wonderful post, and amazing how it sparked so many memories from others! As a teacher, do we ever really appreciate what the history we help to create during those early years in the classroom?

While in Rhodesia, did you ever know the Lacey family? Just curious...

Please email me at allthings4good at gmail dot com so I can invite you back to my blog...

Lynne said...

I am amazed at how memories are triggered. Just looking at your class photo brought back a wash of memories of kids in my fourth grade class. Stuff I haven't thought about in years...

RuthieJ said...

Even though I started parochial school about 10 years after your picture, it reminded me of those old school days when we still had to wear dresses to school. Four other girls and I went all the way from kindergarten to graduation together.
(didn't encounter any 'funny smelling' classmates till we went up to the public school for high school)

SARAHDIPITY said...

Hello..I really enjoyed your school memories. Stirred up many of my own. I enjoy very much the scope and vitality of your writing!

Sarah Ginny's Friend...
who can't yet figure out all the navigation of the blog, but will keep on noodleing around.