Tootie Goes To School

Today’s guest post is by Jacque.

Since 2008, the year my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and gave up housekeeping, I have edited and illustrated a story book for my mother as a Christmas gift from me each Holiday Season. (Some of you in BBC have seen these).

The stories that comprise each book are memoirs that she wrote in 1984 as part of an Iowa Writer’s Workshop Project that travelled through out Iowa. The purpose of the project was to have citizens of Iowa write about their own stories. The second purpose was to give teachers CEU credits.

My sister, brother, and I knew about these stories because Mom told us about attending the class. When we were children, she told us these stories.

As we transitioned Mom out of her house, the task of cleaning out her house and disposing of many family antiques fell to me. The stories, antiques of a different type, were tucked away in an old file. I confiscated them and began storybook project. There are now six books and I have started on the one for this year: “Potty Talk.” It is about all the functions of a modern day bathroom and laundry, spread throughout the farmstead.

The year 2014 was one of big family events.   Both Mom and Lou’s dad started to deteriorate in health. We experienced nine months of parents’ needing assistance, many trips back and forth to Iowa where they each lived, hosting mom here and the family drama that arrives with all that.

Lou’s dad died in October at age 94. Mom moved to a Memory Care facility in January 2015.

Tootie

During all that the 2014 book barely got written and I never did post the link to this story on this. So I thought I would use this as a blog topic.  The name of a the book was Tootie Goes to School regarding Mom’s first day of school, which was not much fun for her.

A website called www.Bookemon.com is where I publish and copyright each book so no one can take the stories from her. You can browse the site and find them there.

I also posted the link to one or two of these on the blog in the past.

Here is the link.
Enjoy.

Do you remember your first day of school?   Tell us more!

80 thoughts on “Tootie Goes To School”

  1. Nice Jacque
    Thanks
    Nice photo to start the post.
    I have a picture on the wall of my first grade picture with missing front tooth and next to the picture is the back of the picture where the scrawl of a pre first grader wrote Michael Timothy Jones with an uncertain hand because I had never written Michael before. It simply hadn’t come up. The school was still pretty new. Bloomington was growing so fast they couldn’t build schools fast enough. Southwood had only been open a year and still there were so many students that they had to break the day down into morning students and afternoon students 6 to 12 and 12 to 6. I was the 12 to 6 class. Miss majerous was a 21 year old redhead who knew so little of about teaching that the following yeR loud find me in catholic school where 21 year old miss writer was a major improvement.
    1st grad is where when we were done with our regular class room work we were encouraged to write stories to put in a folder on the he heat register in the back of the room. I had the big fat file bursting with stories I wrote as they came flowing out the end on my big black pencil the size of my thumb in diameter and often the same length after being sharpened and resharpened on the wall mounted crank handled pencil sharpener that made that wonderful sound and percussive rythum as I sharpened my box of 10 or 15 pencils ready for another day. Two blocks down the hill in the midday trek and two blocks up the hill for dinner at the end of the day. Vickie Ericsson was the black haired freckle faced pixie that captured my heart and taught me about the way the world worked. She moved out of town halfway through the year as an unrequited love to be nothing but memories all these years later. I got to play xylophone in Hugh Christmas play, I couldn’t believe my good luck. My issues with organized anything began here. Kindergarten was at least a little understanding, here in southwood the days of individuality were about to be discouraged and dealt with in a manner similar to that which is reserved for other social Perriahs and misfits.
    School was made for some and inflicted on others. I loved learning it was school I couldn’t stand. Miss Marius got me started and Beth Ericsson was the one that wrapped it up in my senior English class. There were good teachers too but those stood out. Bless miss radich and mr vassilio. It’s an amazing world with the online learning available through edx and the like.

    Thanks Jacque for the trip down memory lane. Scott fox came to mind earlier this week and I wasn’t sure why. It was to get me ready for my return to first grade here on the trail.

    I will have a guest blog in to dale in another day or two. Hank you all for the great starts to the summer of 2015 with our rudderless blogs ite that finds a point on the horizon to focus on daily bt hook or by crook.
    Well done baboons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 6 miles north of Pipestone as you leave Pipestone on the County Road past the old Jubas Grocery then off on a gravel road. I never go there anymore, so I can’t remember the directions. It is Sweet Township. The school is now a little museum and Township event center. The picture comes from the Pipestone Historical Society which is very active there.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I don’t remember my first day, but I remember the first year of misery. It was 1958. Kindergarten in that remote district of SW Iowa was taught by a bitter old Victorian lady who hated children. Miss Jesse Frazier. She believed every child needed spanking twice a year. And she still used a dunce stool and hat for the boys! She hated me because my mother taught in the school which she thought “improper” for a married woman. This despite the fact that Mom went to work after my father was diagnosed with MS and they knew he would be unable to support the family.

    Many of us feel that schools now lack discipline, but it was teachers like her that started the approaches used now. Any would now be charged for assault if she treated a child like that. It was awful.

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    1. Indeed, Jacque. Some of the teachers in my elementary school would face legal action now for exercising the sort of power (terror) they did on defenseless kids. Roll over in your graves, Miss Steele and Miss Bentley! But even they were milder than some of the teachers my parents had.

      One of my mother’s teachers devised a nasty trick. She would put a kid whom she thought had misbehaved on a dunce’s stool in front of the class, a red ribbon tied under the chin to a big bow on top of the head. When the child broke down in tears of humiliation, the scarlet dye in the ribbon would soak the child’s clothing, making sure that he or she would get punished a second time at home.

      My dad had a teacher in grade school who was rougher. School rooms had radiators with big metal fins. This woman would grab a kid by his hair and drag his forehead up and down the length of the radiator, sort of like dragging a stick against a picket fence. The one time she hit my dad she knocked him unconscious.

      After I write my morning letter I’ll come back with the story of my first day. Great topic, Jacque!

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        1. Miss Steele and Miss Bentley saw teaching as combat between authority and miscreants. Both were on big power trips. A grade school friend once confronted one of them, telling her, “You never should have been allowed in a classroom.” Strong words from a ten-year old girl addressing an authority figure in that age!

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  3. I remember being panicked because I got lost in the building and couldn’t remember where my classroom was. It was strange that happened since my mom was a teacher and I had wandered around that building for years when mom took me to work with her on weekends or in the summer when she was either putting all her stuff away or getting her room ready for the start of school in the fall. I went to morning Kindergarten.

    Kindergarten is still optional in ND, although almost every child in the state attends kindergarten. In our community, kindergarten lasts all day, and the curriculum is very hard, requiring the children to be able to read and write fairly complex sentences by the end of the year. it is more like a Grade 1 curriculum.

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    1. I saw a worksheet the other day that had several complex sentences in a jumbled order and the child had to read the sentences and number them to indicate the correct order. I think that is kind of advanced for a kindergarten student. The curriculum also emphasizes writing skills. People who have moved here from other states for the oil boom are shocked at how much more difficult school is for their children.

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  4. OT–thanks for all the nice comments yesterday (I wasn’t able to get back to the Trail to read them until now). I wasn’t sure, when this blog first started, what kind of folks I’d find here, but I was happy to learn that none of you are TOO normal. Keep the freak flag flying high…

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    1. One thing I really appreciate the baboons is that they/we don’t seem to mind disagreements or different ways of thinking. Maybe I’ve been around too many people whose attitude is “my way or the highway,” but I find it incredibly refreshing to have people discuss differences of opinion not only calmly, but as if they are truly interested in why the other person thinks differently than they do. I’ve often thought that if everyone thought the same, acted the same, and believed the same that it would be an incredibly boring world, so I like being around other people who find differences interesting and fun and not threatening.

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      1. If you ever want a fictional glimpse at sameness in the interest of happiness & harmony, read “The Giver.” It’s one Daughter and her pals like and it’s most likely found with YA or children’s chapter books.

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  5. There was at least one Tootie in my family as I recall. That must have been a popular nickname back then. One of my mom’s cousins married a woman everyone called Tootie. I don’t know what her real name was.

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  6. Oh thanks for the memory, Jacque! Glad to have the link to the book.

    Boy, looks like I lucked out with teachers. This first one was young and pretty, and there is a photo of her with me and a kid from down the block, posed outside of North School in Storm Lake, IA, 1953. I was so excited I could hardly stand still. I had on a little navy suit with a pleated skirt, even a little hat. I think the kid was dressed up too – this was a very big deal. Gonna look for that photo.

    I remember sitting in a circle for Show and Tell, and I think I told plenty. I remember (there’s another photo) a Christmas program that I got to sing in, painting at an easel, and trying to weave potholders on that little frame… that’s about it.

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  7. Morning all. Lovely Jacque!

    I had many many first days of school. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid – I went to 2 different schools almost every year up until junior high. I don’t remember a single thing that stands out as a “first day” and I don’t remember any mean or cruel teachers either, thank goodness.

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  8. Nice job, Jacque. I’m short on time this morning, as I have to pick up my friend Ken in Minneapolis for our weekly outing, so will have to come back later to check out your links.

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  9. Mom has a picture of me on my first day of kindergarten, crying my eyes out. She says it’s her favorite picture of me. You’d think, after 47 years, I could have done better than that…

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  10. My first school, Beardshear, was so close to my home I could see it from the sidewalk. Beardshear was a squat, graceless brick building, two stories tall. It was built in 1903, so each classroom had huge windows, for no school that old had electric lights. By 1947 I think they had added fluorescent lights, although we still controlled light by running black shades up and down those windows. Like all schools of that era, it was heated with a coal furnace in the basement. “Clinkers” resulting from burning the coal were smashed flat and made into the cinders that covered our playground. There were no fans, and of course no a/c (only about two buildings in my town had air conditioning of any sort in the 1950s).

    At the back of each classroom was a partitioned-off area called the Cloak Room. That’s where kids hung their coats on hooks and shucked off snowy galoshes in winter. (The typical boot in those days was the four-buckle black rubber boot. If you were running in them, the buckle of your right boot might snag on the buckle of the left, locking your feet and sending you flying in a faceplant and skid.)

    I walked to school for my first day, a September day in 1947. The classroom on the northeastern corner of the school had a big photo of our current president: Harry Truman. When we pledged allegiance, the flag in each classroom had 48 stars (no Hawaii or Alaska). Pretty Miss Carlson was my teacher. But what caught my eye was Susie Stoever, slight blonde with a pert nose.

    Each student brought a thin, rolled-up rug to school. We probably also brought a little bag lunch, for Beardshear had no cafeteria. When Miss Carlson declared it was Nap Time, we unrolled the rugs and lay down on them to sleep.

    I unrolled my rug next to Susie and lay down looking at her. Susie switched around so I was staring at her shoes. So I moved to be face-to-face with her again. So Susie swapped ends again. We went through about three cycles of this before Miss Carlson intervened, removing me from the classroom. I napped that first day in the Cloak Room.

    I was a sweet apple-polishing kid, but I spent part of my first day of school in detention, guilty of sexual harassment!

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      1. I was mr bobs helper an got to punch a nail hole in the milk carton and stick a straw in the hole. halfway through the year my class was deemed big and another class small so I got shipped out to another class where I told the teacher at 1145 I needed to go help mr bob with the milk. she had never heard of such a thing and forbade me to go. I told her we could discuss it after I got back it was time to go and so i left. she followed me to meet mr bob in the milk refrigerator where he told her I was indeed his mil helper and asked her to allow us to get our work done so we would not make lunch be late. she tucked her tail between her legs and left us to our duties. mr bob was my kind of guy.

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  11. I have fuzzy memories of the first day of kindergarden. I think the first person who approached me was a boy named Kenny, who invited me to join in playing with the blocks. They had a building set large enough to build a small structure you could walk into (assuming you were not very tall).

    Later the group became more gender-segregated. The girls played with the girls and the boys played with the boys, and the building set fell in the boys’ territory.

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  12. Good morning. I don’t remember my first day at school. My first year in school was split between Beloit,WI and Jackson MI. I can very vaguely remember the appearance of the classroom in Beloit where I started school. Most of my first year of school took place in Jackson and I do remember some thing from my first year there.

    I think I must have had some trouble adjusting to joining the kindergarden class in Jackson because some old school reports that I found indicated I was a bully. I don’t remember being a bully. While attending the school in Jackson when I was a little older, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, I remember some plans I made to defend myself from bullies which never got beyond the planning stage.

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  13. My only memory of that first day was having to be carried into school by my father because the vaccinations given the previous day had rendered my legs barely usuable. Looking back, I suspect that they were perfectly fine and I just wanted the attention. Story of my life.

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  14. There was a kid in my school that all the kids bullied mercilessly. His name was Gerald Kudish. Kids would point at him and squeal about keeping away from Gerald and his “cooties.” Two years ago I tracked down his phone number (it was hard) and spent an hour talking to him. I wanted to apologize if I had, in fact, been one of the bullies. Gerald assured me I had not been. Whew!

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    1. Good one you Steve.

      I recently got a letter from an old classmate inviting me to a reunion at a bowling alley. Somewhere in there was a statement about how things were possibly rough back then, but hopefully everyone had gotten beyond all that.

      I certainly hope they taught their own children accordingly. I still fight the insecurities ground into me. I dug through some facebook profiles and I really have nothing to say to those people.

      My old college friends are another matter and I love keeping up with them.

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  15. Like others, I don’t recall the first day of school, although I do have the dress I wore high on a shelf in my closet.

    The school I attended was torched as a firefighting exercise several years ago, but the stone lintel is now on the lawn in front of the new (ish) high school. Still trying to find the exact inscription.

    The kindergarten room had a grand piano that had been painted pale pink and the beautiful hardwood floor bumped up towards the front from water damage due to the sprinkler system.

    The teacher was delighted she did not have to teach me to write Catherine, but she despaired because I could not skip, nor could I tell right from left (still struggling with the latter).

    I was a gifted child, but not a compliant one.

    There is rhetoric that leads one to think this is desireable in this society. In reality, it is not.

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    1. My daughter also had trouble remembering which hand was called what. Then one day she was attacked by a mentally disturbed golden retriever, and one result was a permanent scar on the back of her right hand. Molly always afterward could remember left and right because she knew her right hand was the one with the scar. Maybe, tim, this is a case of making lemonade from lemons??

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      1. you could have told her when you put your hands in front of you palms away, fingertips toward the ceiling and thumbs pointing toward each other … the left one makes an L

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        1. I can always figure it out, but I always HAVE to figure it.

          Most people just turn left when you tell them to-I have to take a split second (at least) to think about it.

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  16. Well done, Jacque. I think it is so cool that you are doing this with your mom’s memories.

    I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten, but I am positive that it was not as awful as Tootie’s first day of school. I was happy to read about her mother’s kindness when it was all over, for the time at school sounds both physically and emotionally painful. Overall, kindergarten and most of early elementary school was peripheral to my existence; I really just liked to play outdoors or wander around outside looking at things. Learning to read was okay in the end, but the process was boring because the readers were so dumb; I think I must have picked up reading skills subconsciously while my mom read to me.

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    1. I still vividly remember Puff jumping on Mother’s back while she was cleaning something or other.

      The delinquents do the same and I always say, “get down, Puff, get down!”.

      Hope you will post about your new first day of school when that happens.

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  17. I also remember my first day as a Kindergarten Teacher. It was 1970, before kids regularly had pre-school experience. At 8:29, I opened the door to a sea of anxious looking kids and (mostly) mothers. The kids came in willingly enough, but I remember one mother who had an awful time surrendering her weeping child to me. I assured her that Tommy would be fine (not having any idea whether or not he would be. The instant she was out of sight, he quieted down.

    This was at St. Anne’s of the Sunset, in San Francisco. There were 40 children, the room had 7 tables with 6 little chairs each, a low sink in a long L of counters over cupboards, and a piano. Everyone was given a box of 8 Prang crayons, the thick kind, and each eventually child found the cubby with their name and crayons. I’m sure we tried doing a page out of some work-book, and I remember the teachers manual suggested having the children act out a scenario involving 3 people. I did this, it probably took forever (13 times, you see), and I don’t believe I ever tried anything like that again.

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    1. I substituted several times as a kindergarten teacher. Kindergarteners need lots of attention. However, they seemed to me to be a fun group that didn’t get into as much trouble as older grade school kids. On the other hand, they do require a lot of care because this is their first year and they are very young.

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    2. I remember always being amazed at Miss S’ kindergarten teacher and her ability to seemingly be working with anywhere between 2 and 5 kids at once. She was able to balance working with each child on at their own level and pace and keep the whole class humming along at the same time. Truly a miracle worker.

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  18. My daughter had one of the best teachers in the St Paul school system. She got awards all the time. I once complimented her. “I guess I like kindergartners,” she said. “Kids at that age are so much fun. But by the time they are ready to graduate to first grade, I never want to see them again!”

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  19. my grade school was two blocks down the hill and I had to go to public school because the catholics started school in second grade. let the public teachers teach them reading and spelling and colors and numbers before the nuns got em. then bring those little heathens in here and take the rulers to their knuckles and whip the lord into them. my kindergarten was a 45 minute bus ride away and there were no kids in the neighborhood to get into a click with. I had two rows full of friends by the time we arrived and plans to conquer the world by the time the return trip home was done. I was in the farthest corner of the city soi was first picked up last dropped off. extra social hour for me.

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  20. Kindergarten was an unknown phenomenon in Denmark when I grew up. If you didn’t have a stay-at-home mom or a nanny to take care of you, you went to nursery school. Their job was simply to keep you safe and – with a little luck – relatively happy. I loved nursery school, except for the mandatory nap time, but as long as I kept quiet they didn’t mind if I sat and played quietly.

    The school year in Denmark starts around August 12th. Most kids started 1st grade when they were seven years old, but if your birthday fell late in the year you might be accepted as a six year old. I wanted to go to school so badly that my mother tried to enroll me in 1949, but because my seventh birthday wasn’t until late the following April I was deemed to young and rejected. So I was good and ready to start school in 1950, three months after I turned seven.

    I remember the first day vividly. After some initial formalities and introductions, our homeroom teacher – Mrs. Sørensen, a woman in her late thirties – handed each student a small metal box that had previously held band aids. It now contained 28 blue and red cardboard squares on which the letters of the alphabet were written. Red for the vowels, and blue for the consonants. We were given our class schedule and told we were free to go. That was it! I was dumbstruck as all the parents and other students got up and left.

    I remained seated. I had waited so long to attend school, and I wasn’t about to leave without having learned anything. When Mrs. Sørensen asked why I wasn’t leaving, I told her I wanted to learn something first. Fair enough, she said, and gave me a couple of pieces of paper with multiple lines on which she had written some letters. My assignment was to fill each line with the letter written in the left margin. She showed me how to write the letters, and told me that size and neatness counts. Happy as clam I gathered up my stuff and headed home; I was on my way to becoming a reader and a writer.

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    1. Continuing (darn IPad): i doubt the school responded much to that. It was best decision ever made for me. I gave told before how my sister came home every day in grades two and three and taught me what she had learned.
      I went to school next year and I remember parts of the day, mostly not knowing how to relate to all those kids my age. First time I could remember being with any children other than my siblings. Some of my first grade I engrained in the novel some of you have kindly read. The school, meaning the principal, Miss Priest, objected that I did not start in K then that I could read. I was in a classic pre-WWI four-square two story school, with a classic close-to-retirement two-year certificate, famous for her quirks, but an excellent teacher. I rember best the smells. Such as the cloak closet, as it was called, long past the era of cloaks. Damp steaming g wool in the winter.
      One of her quirks was to try to make lefties right-handed, which my mother stopped. But I think it was a decent year for me. I ran against the cultural grain in a few ways, so I and my mother had a run-in or two. But she was a caring woman, with an old Iowa farm viewpoint on education. She was the aunt of the organist when I was a pastor. She was still stiff and emotionally inexpressive in her old age. She did remember me, as I think she did most of the thousands who went through her school or classroom. In the early years she taught grade 6 and was principal. She told me she wD proud of me. I visited her often when she started to finally fail in her mid nineties. We talked of her early years teaching in rural schools in Iowa at age 16 and how she worked for two-year and then three-year certificates, then a BA then a principals certificate.

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      1. Oops. High FM flair-up hit last night. Not out of it yet. The woman I talk about in the second paragraph is the principal. Going back into dark.

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      2. Regarding old school teachers:

        When I was in fourth grade, my mother was a long-term substitute for Miss Mountain, also a veteran of the one-room schoolhouse.

        The schoolboard had recently voted to allow female teachers to wear pants (a blessing since teachers did playground duty and we were seldom kept inside due to weather).

        Female students had always been allowed to wear pants in my memory.

        Except in Miss Mountain’s classroom. She would have none of that. Snowpants at recess I believe were permitted, but in her classroom, young ladies dressed like young ladies.

        When Miss Mountain was hospitalized, the girls saw their chance and asked my mother if they could wear pants. My mother told them that it was in fact still Miss Mountain’ s classroom, but that it was up to them as to whether or not they would respect their teacher’s wishes.

        Not one girl wore pants in that classroom.

        Miss Mountain retired at the end of that year.

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      1. Mrs. Sørensen was wonderful, I loved her. In fact, I have liked most of my teachers throughout my schooling. Some better than others, sure, and I never had a teacher who was physically abusive.

        My main problem throughout school was that I was a quick study. I tended to catch on right away, and would get impatient when the teacher seemed to be belaboring the point.

        Stubbekøbing school was the same school that my dad attended, and, in fact, I had a couple of the same teachers that taught him.

        Unlike tim’s and lots of other kids who went to Catholic school and were taught by nuns, I had a great experience during my years at the Catholic boarding school.

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  21. I did not attend K. I was in the last group not required to attend K. My parents thought I would learn more at home, which I am sure I did. In 1949 the cut-off for date was 12/31. I turned 6 on 12/19. Day after Labor Day I was dressed for school eating breakfast with parents, third grade sister, eight grade brother. My mother looked at me and to.d me to put on my work clothes. I could wait another year. I do not remember this. My sister does.

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  22. Jacque, what has been your mother’s reaction to receiving these wonderful books as presents? Does she remember the writing as being her own or recognize any of it?

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    1. It has been hard to tell. Her emotions seem muted with the Alzheimer’s and often she just seems frozen. But in quieter moments I have seen her looking at the books, then make comments about how difficult that life was, or what a good mother Grandma was, or how they carried every drop of water they used from the well to the house.

      The rewarding part has been the reactions of some cousins to the one about their dad. They love that book and have made it a bestseller at about 20 books. On the Memory Care unit where mom lives, the activity director discovered the books. He now reads them to the residents one a week, and I hear they enjoy them because many can relate to the farm stories. So my sister donated a set to them. The director plans to just start over with the first book every six weeks. He says since it is Memory Care they will all forget what they heard six weeks ago.

      Mom’s grandchildren’s reactions have been the most fun. I don’t think they could conceive of what her life was like as a child. Now every Christmas one of the Grandchildren reads the book aloud to the entire family.. It is very sweet.

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      1. It must also give you a wonderful sense of satisfaction to know that your work is bringing so much joy to others.

        About the memory care unit, I know exactly what the director means. Husband and I struggled with coming up with new ideas for what to do with Ken (who has frontotemporal dementia) on a weekly basis until we realized he doesn’t remember from one week to the next what we’ve done. During the winter I took him two weeks in a row to the Science Museum. When I asked him whether it looked familiar, he said “vaguely.” He’s just happy to be out of the house, and so is his wife!

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  23. Thanks Jacque, well done.

    I don’t remember the first day. Unless you count the college class I took last fall.
    I was the only kid in my family of 5 kids not to attend the one room country school. Even my brother, the next up in the family, went to the one room school through 6th grade.
    I don’t remember kindergarten or the teacher…
    First grade was Miss Crandle. Stereotypical ‘old maid’ teacher that always buttoned the top button of my coat and choked me. But a good teacher.
    Don’t remember 2nd grade and mom says I didn’t like the teacher and she didn’t blame me.
    Ah, but 3rd grade was Mrs Kuntz; I had a serious crush on her. I think all the boys did. And 6th grade was Miss Marsolek who got married and became Mrs Milhulski. She too was pretty.

    In first grade I was the only kid who could do 10 pull ups. Can’t do that anymore…
    In second grade I remember sitting in a box with a friend and singing ‘yellow submarine’ very loudly while other class members looked in the box at us. Weird.

    I went to Jefferson Elementary School. My Dad always said that was a corn field when he was a kid and I could never wrap my head around that.
    But now there’s a high school that our kids attended. And that is where the Cassidy farm used to be. Houses all around it.

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  24. I don’t remember my first day either though I do remember kindergarten at Clara Barton Elementary fondly. Mrs. Hofflander was kind and patient and understanding of the inevitable tears the crop up in those early school days. The kindergarten room was larger than some of the other rooms and had what seemed like an entire wall of windows. It was situated on its own floor, part way between the main first floor and the basement and had a cloak room much like the one Steve described. I remember being a bit put out that I had to use the same nap mat my brother had. It was a vinyl covered foam affair that folded in fourths. One side was red and had my brother’s name written in his five-year-old script – the other was blue and had my name in my mother’s tidy hand. I liked my mother’s handwriting but it seemed insult to injury that Pete got to write his own name on the mat and I was not even given the option. Harrumph.

    Other notable memories: the reading books we had featured the frogs named Zip, Tad and Pud. Once you finished those there was a book about a kitten who got stuck in a can. I kept waiting for Pud to show up and save her. He was much smarter than that silly cat. Kindergarten was also where I got my first taste of builds things and using tools. Mr. Hofflander was a mail carrier and would sometimes visit when he was done with his route. One a few of those days he brought in scrap lumber and helped us bang things together. I kept one of my treasured piece for several years: a short length of 2×4 (maybe 6″ or so) with a small triangular piece of wood nailed to it (bent over 12 penny nail – not bent on purpose and kept loose enough that the triangle would spin). I very carefully wrote numbers on the face of the 2×4 in purple crayonto make it a clock. A clock with one hand. And, as I recall, not all the hours.

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