Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Remembering A Time

Memes, I’ve done a few, in fact, two in the past 30 days. Both asked, “Who was your 1st grade teacher?”


I’m sure the woman was quite lovely, capable, endearing, and engaging. I remember having fun, in class. I recall some of what was covered in first grade. I recall being praised for my grasp of the material. I recall much, but her name…gone.

Going to first grade was exciting for me, I recall that as well. I remember being all atwitter at the thought (and experience) of being in school all day. In first grade we came home for lunch, and at that time mom (and still for a bit, dad) worked outside the homestead, “home for lunch” meant going to Mrs. Booker’s, our caregiver.

Mrs. Booker kept a few kids in the neighborhood, along with her own grandchildren while parents worked. She provided before, during, and after-school care. During the school year Mrs. Booker provided breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, and in some extreme cases dinner. In the summer-time she made ice cream. She sold cones to the neighborhood at-large but those in her care got our cones (limit of one per day) for free. Of course, we got to help too.

I recall the first grade days being some of the most glorious, carefree days of my childhood, except . . .

My older brother was in 3rd grade, during my first grade year. He, by all accounts, was a terror and had been wreaking havoc at Samuel F. B. Morse Elementary school since his K days. I discovered in my first grade year that my older brother’s teacher was beside herself and quite frustrated (note: I didn’t have the language for that IN first grade, only the notion). She tried reaching out to our parents, who were also beside themselves and quite frustrated.

The primary mode of communicating with parents back then was to send notes home. The notes would be (in first grade) pinned to the first grader’s shirt or jumper. In the older grades the notes were inserted into book bags. I remember my older brother being punished (severely, sometimes) after the first few notes were discovered. It wasn’t long into my first grade year when my older brother’s third grade teacher discovered that notes were no longer making it all the way home.

When brother’s third grade teacher came to her discovery, she decided it genius to pin my brother’s notes to my jumper. My older brother got wind of the crafty maneuver during supper one fateful evening.

From that point forward, older brother, who had not shown any interest in walking with me from school (as he was directed) before, now intercepted me routinely. If he saw a note pinned to my jumper he would push me down and take the note. Sometimes as often as twice a week this was the ritual.

Finally, only a few weeks before first grade year would come to a close, no more written notes. My older brother’s third grade teacher came to my first grade classroom and asked me to deliver a verbal message to my mom. I was to ask my mom contact older brother's third grade teacher. She asked, “Will you remember?”

I told my older brother’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Stanley that I would remember.

And I did.


  1. Dang. Sad.
    I enjoyed the writing!

  2. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Elementary school teachers. One was Ms. Godley - but I only know that because she was related to our neighbors. The rest? Nothing. I remember a very few from HS. Nothing much from College.

    But then, I am bad with names.

  3. That's a lot of responsibility for a young kid. You were brave.

  4. Anonymous4:19 PM

    I can remember every one of my elem. teachers. I adored my first grade teacher.

    Like you, I had a problematic older sibling. I hated following in his footsteps. I always tried to be extra good to make up for what he put everyone through.

  5. Hey, I think we have the same brother. Dwayne? No? There are two of them? Criminy.

    I remember almost nothing about first grade but my teacher's name: Mrs. Sheldon.

  6. I look back on my days as a first grader and am sort of astonished at how much responsibility we were given. I walked to and from the bus stop to school each day with my sisters, a good mile walk in all weather. Not once did my mother worry that my feet would get cold or that i was awfully small to be walking that far. I had severe asthma as a child and I remember some of that walking was so hard on me. But, it never occurred to me to complain or expect someone to help me out.

    My baby sister was born when I was eight years old. It was not uncommon for me to have to take her with me on play dates. All of us who had younger siblings were expected to do this, look out for them.

    Now, I look at my Liv, a big girl of ten and try to imagine her being responsible for babysitting a baby. It just boggles the mind. And I would never allow her to walk anywhere by herself.

    But, yes, times have changed.


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