Wednesday, April 1, 2009

School Happenings

Every once in awhile, I get “flash backs” of something that happened to me, or others, in School. Most of them are short, and wouldn’t take up a whole posting on this blog.

Just now, however, I thought of just writing out my memories of each of these things, and then putting them together in one post.

Here’s a start:

In third or fourth grade, one of the things we used to like to do was to take the blackboard erasers outside of the building, and “clean them up”. How did we do that? Well, my memory is that we beat them on the concrete sills of the lower windows of the school that we could reach. To be assigned to that task was a special favor, or so we thought. And, it got us outside.

The residue of what we “beat out” stayed on the concrete window sill, and I suppose, was eventually washed off by the rain. We didn’t know anything about that, we just got a special “trip” outside - during Spring and Fall, of course.

Speaking of third or fourth grade - I’m not sure which, I began to get in a discussion with other classmates about Santa Claus. I really DID believe in him sometime in school, but I THINK it was at about this time that some of the “older” kids began teasing us younger ones about how foolish it was to “believe in Santa Claus”. I remember arguing pretty vociferously about it, being sure that he was real. I can’t quite remember what convinced me that I was wrong, but the “older” kids had a good bit to do with it.


I remember the first time I got a grade as low as a “D”. It was in the seventh grade, and the subject was “Geography”. I don’t remember what my problem was, but I got my first “D”. I suppose now you want to know what my parents said about that. But, conveniently enough, I don’t remember. Kinda like I genuinely don’t remember my punishment when I “talked back” to my Sixth Grade Teacher. Denial, I guess.

That wasn’t the only “low” grade I got in School.

In High School, we were required to take 4 years of Latin and French - two years of each. At least, in the College Prep program. I THINK only Latin was offered to 9th and 10th graders.

Anyway, the first year of Latin was not so bad. I don’t remember my grades exactly, but they weren’t failing. However, the Second Year was a “killer”. Out of a class of about 10, only 2 passed at the end of the year, and I was NOT one of them. Even those who passed didn’t get very high grades. For some reason, I remember the names of Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Webster as being the only ones who did pass. (This was 1940!)

I just now remember that I didn’t just get an “F”, but in those days, my failing grade was “Red E”. More horrific, I think, that an “F”. How could anyone MISS it? A “RED E!!!!?” Failure.

What to do? We had to have the course credits.

Summer School!

In Mechanicsburg, there was an elderly, somewhat sickly lady, who had taught Latin there maybe 10 years before. Her name was Mrs. Jess Wilson. She and her husband Guy, lived clear down at the end of West Race Street, almost out of town.

One of the parents of these students who failed, got the idea of hiring Mrs. Wilson to “Tutor” us, and see if we couldn’t at least pass Latin - and become full-fledged Juniors.

So, these errant pupils spent, I think, six weeks - 5 days a week - with Mrs. Wilson, to try to learn Latin. At least a LITTLE bit of it. Of course, I was one of them.

By the time even 4 weeks passed by, we were all so enthralled with Latin, that some of us thought we might end up teaching it later. (I had no plans to teach Latin). She made that “dead” language, LIVE.

Can you guess how that Summer School Session ended? We ALL got A!

Now, French. That was a different matter. I’m not ready to say that I got all A’s, but to me, it was VERY interesting, and to this day, I try to pick up some French words whenever I can.

I remember the teacher started the class each day, by saying, “Bon Jour, mes eleves! Comment-allez-vous?” We’d answer, “Bon Jour, Mademoiselle. Tres bien, merci. Et vous?” She would answer, of course, “Tres bien, merci.” It sounds beautiful to me, just saying it aloud. Even reading it gives me a rush.
(I almost "swooned" when I heard Charles Boyer each week end his TV program with the farewell, "Bon Soir". And, before French class, I thought he was saying "Moh swahre".)

I passed it, at least. And, in recent years (a couple of times), I’ve gone to the Library to check out a French Lesson course. Over time, I start it, then keep putting it off, and haven’t improved much. I can still pick out some words - not as much when hearing it, because it goes pretty fast. I dearly wish I had continued studying, and, wonder-of-wonders, maybe have been able to go to Paris (pronounced Paree).


I got my first lesson in electricity in Science class in about the ninth grade, I think. Mr. Roger Counts, the Science Teacher, hooked all of us up to a continuous circle, holding hands, with the two end pupils holding the two electrodes, and then he “cranked up” the hand driven generator. Wow! What a charge.

In that class, also, we did some quite unpleasant things with frogs, guinea pigs and mice that I won’t describe. Just Science! Right!

Oh……I haven’t thought of this for over 60 years:

We had a high school orchestra, and I learned to play the snare and bass drums. Saying, “I learned”, might be a bit disingenuous. I tried to learn, at least. I had no problem with the rhythm and the beat, nor understanding the music, but, for the life of me, I couldn’t do a decent “drum roll” to save me. I still got by, however, since High School Orchestras in those days weren’t expected to be “professional”. And, in the music WE played, there weren't many "drum rolls". Miss Connie Ogden led the orchestra, as well as a High School Drum and Bugle Corps, consisting of ALL girls. They were good. Jean was a drummer in that band.

(If I can “dig up” one more decent school story, I think I have a posting!)

I played a little baseball in High School. I was not a very good hitter, and my fielding left something to be desired. I now ask myself: “Why did I try?”

I didn’t want it to “beat” me.

About 3 years ahead of me was a tall, lanky guy with long arms, named Bob Runyan. When he wrapped his large hand around the baseball, and flung it toward home plate, it “whizzed”.

Another pitcher, I think a year behind me, was John Coffey. He was left handed, and couldn’t throw as hard as Bob, but he had a lot of “stuff” on the ball, and he won a lot of games. It seems to me that John played some kind of “semipro” ball (American Legion?), and was very successful. My memory of his batting is that he was worse than even me. He just waved at the ball. Could pitch, though!

I spent 12 consecutive years in Mechanicsburg Schools (could have been 13, if we hadn’t had Latin Summer School), and I enjoyed every bit of it. I don’t remember just panting and panting until school was out. Sometimes it was hard, but was enjoyable.

A fun class was typing. I had that for 2 years, and the teacher was Miss Edna Schumm (It wasn’t shumm, nor shoom, but shoum (like should). She spent much of her time vocalizing the different letters on the keyboard. She would go: “AQA space; AZA space; SWS space; SXS space”; on down to “LOL space; L period L space; Sem P sem space; Sem diagonal sem space;”, etc. We would type as she vocalized.

Remarkably, I learned how to type. I do have to admit that since I haven’t kept up on the numbers and symbols on the top row of the keyboard, I have to sometimes look at them. The letters, though, are automatic - assuming I don’t try to type so fast that I hit the wrong keys.

That’s enough of school, I think. Unless, of course, I think of some other stories before this is posted in a little over a week. Wonder of wonders, thinking back to January or February when I got up at 1:00AM, just to ramble-type until I thought of something, if this one IS finished, I will now have 4 “in the tank”, (Word Processor). And, I just posted one this morning!


“And let us not be not weary in well doing: for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.” Gal. 6:9



Anonymous said...

"Miss Connie Ogden led the orchestra, as well as a High School Drum and Bugle Corps, consisting of ALL girls. They were good. Jean was a drummer in that band."


Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

You know, you're probably right! I probably should have said, "Jean was a drummer in that "Corps"? "Group"? "Outfit"? "Musical Ensemble"? Or, I could have said "Jean played the a drum in the Drum and Bugle Corps."?

I wish I was a writer. I'd then know how to phrase these things. Thank God no one pays me for this!

Grandpa Mike

Grandpa Mike said...

Regarding my reply to the first "Anonymous", I see that I mistakenly used "the" and "a" referring to a drum. I failed to double-check what I wrote, as I often do.

And, I wanted to see if I could properly use my Grandpa Mike identity on these comments. I've not been able to, so far.

I was trying to say that, instead of "band", I was at a loss to know what I should have used.

Any help?

Grandpa Mike

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