Up On Our Feet

Today’s post is a message from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden, forever enrolled at Wendell Willkie High School.

Hey, Mr. C!

Sorry I only write to you when I want you to do something for me or I have a complaint, but what do you expect?  You’re an old guy and I’m still in high school, so for us to be just-hanging-out friends would be weird.

But I saw this article and it really got me riled up.

Well, actually, Mr. Boozenporn made us read this article in social studies class, and it got me thinking about how so much of life winds up being about your expectations.

Really!  Because you know I’m super focused on what I’ll do for a living if I ever get out of Willkie.  On account of they keep threatening to graduate me, since I’m older than the janitor now.

Anyway, Mr. B. showed us this article about how a bunch of elementary schools are getting rid of sit-down desks and making their students stand instead!

For example, nearly every classroom in the Vallecito Elementary School, in San Rafael California, now has standing desks!

I found out there’s been a bunch of news coverage of this, and all the students, teachers and parents they quoted go on and on about how great it is for helping kids stay focused and keeping them healthy.

Blah Blah Blah.

Nobody spoke up for the best part of desk-sitting in school, which is the way being crouched down behind a piece of furniture all day makes it easy to hide stuff in your desk, write secret notes, make spitballs, and etc, etc, etc.

This looks like a secret plan by education bosses and trend-followers to get rid of the school experience that I loved so much – where you’re in a constant battle with the teacher over winning the attention of the other students and the sit-down desk is your foxhole!

Some say the stand-up desk helps prep the little kids for the workplace of their future because it’s a big trendy deal in corporate offices now.  But the difference is in corporations it’s the higher-ups (literally) that get to have a stand up work space, and it’s always their choice if they want to do it!

So telling kids the stand-up desk gets them an early start on their career sends the wrong message, because the only kind of stand-up job that’s available when you get into the workforce today is fast food worker, cashier, barista, waiter, stock clerk, and road work  signal man!

Not to put down those jobs, but if I ever get to college,  I definitely want to graduate with a degree in Sitting Down and Telling People What To Do.

Sit-down jobs are still the best, because that’s where the money is. And I’m pretty sure all those corporate CEO’s are hiding cool stuff in their desks!

Your pal,

What did you hide in your elementary school desk?

58 thoughts on “Up On Our Feet”

  1. I hid things like extra books from the library (that I would sneak-read when I could), cards for the secret club my friends and I created (“laminated” in cellophane tape), sometimes gum…mostly though I hid that I actually liked school.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This site often asks questions that flummox me. The problem is often that I’m so damned old the questions don’t apply to me. This is the case today.

    To see desks like those in my elementary school you have to Google “vintage school desk.” That word “vintage” is critical. I didn’t hide anything in my desks because our desks were flat surfaces with no storage areas. What would we store or hide? We didn’t have our own stuff. The teacher supplied pencils,paper and textbooks (like the Dick and Jane books).

    What we did have was a hole in the desk, a round hole in the upper right corner. It was empty. When I asked about it, the teacher said those holes used to hold ink wells. Why did former students have ink wells when we did not? Because boys used to grab the braids of girls sitting in front of them and dip the braids in the ink wells. Oh.

    In my school the students’ desks were bolted to the floor in straight lines facing forward, toward the teacher and her blackboard. The bolted-down desks could not be moved and surely could not be arranged democratically in a circle. Teachers were confined to the front of the room where an elevated platform helped them spot miscreants in the back row. The fixed furniture of my schools reflected the fixed power alignment of the 1940s and 1950s schoolroom.

    Our desk tops were single slabs of walnut. They had a groove to hold a pen or pencil. And the desk surface was filled with words and initials carved by earlier generations of bored kids. I didn’t know what some of those words meant until I looked them up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe, but if you went to a small town school in western Iowa, those desks were perfectly good and still in use 20 years after Steve’s departure from the classroom.


    1. There were ink wells in some of my grade school desks that were used. We had lessons on writing with ink using pens that consisted of a wooden shaft with a removable metal quill that we dipped into the a bottle of ink sitting in the ink well. There were no ball point pens. There were some ink pens that used small cartridges of ink that could be replaced.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I miss my fountain pen. They were out of common usage by the time I was in school, but I got one and a number of colors of ink for personal use.

        So elegant.


        1. What we used in school weren’t fountain pens, mig. They were individual pens that you stuck unto a holder made specifically for that. There was no ink reservoir leading to the pen, so they had to be dipped in the ink with some frequency in order to write. By the time I was in high school, fountain pens were allowed, but ballpoint pens were a no-no.


        1. I can answer this one, CB. No, they don’t teach cursive any more. Young Adult has atrocious handwriting – you certainly can’t call it cursive!


    2. This site more than flummoxes me – ever since my Trail email alerts ceased, I’ve had one problem or another using the site. Today, it’s only giving me the option of replying to someone else’s comments rather than posting a stand-alone comment.


  3. I always ask kids how clean or messy their desks are as a clue in diagnosing ADHD or learning problems. I keep in mind, though, that my desk was fabulously messy, and I had neither ADHD nor learning problems. I just stuffed everything in my desk as I was too busy with things to keep it neat and clean. I don’t think I ever hid anything in it, but how could anyone tell since it was a disaster area.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I don’t remember what I might have hidden in my desk (which were the old fashioned kind, connected to each other in set rows) but at some point I devised an elaborate imaginary “house” around my desk, complete with an overhead light with a string to turn it off and on, a door that had to be opened before I could stand up.

    When I was teaching second grade, the children had moveable desks. My first year I would “surprise” the children by moving the desks around in different configurations so that when they came in (usually on a Monday morning) they had to look in all the desks to find their own. A little early morning adventure for them….and exercise of sorts.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Like HVS, I am old and the classroom arrangement vintage traditional. But as I recall we did have a place to put books under the top…that had, yes, a groove for pencils and a hole for inkwells.

      My farm came with the cast iron sides that the wooden desks and seats were attached to, but no wood. I haven’t quite figured out what to do with them, but I keep them because they have fancy scrollwork that I like. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to “re-purpose” them.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Good morning. All that I can remember about the contents of my grade school desk is that it was usually a mess. In fact I am still not good at managing the contents of my desk. At least I do have enough drawers and other places to put things now that I am an adult. It would have been very hard to put things in order in the small space my school desk in grade school if I would have had any skill for arranging things in that small space.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i had steves ink well desk but we had a cast oron frame tha gave us a spot to put books and pencils box. bolted to long boards that lined em up for the janitors to slide one foot to the right then put em back. i have 2 of these desks out in the warehouse . my kids used them my employees kids would play school in them and my grandchildren will see the olden days through my collecting.
    i am a stand up desk guy. i need a place to stick my stuff as a reference point but when i am working on the phone or working out details with someone on the other end of the i need to walk around. my warehouse is perfect . its 200 feet to the back and walkways to curve around in and i can go diddle with something while i am discussing details of our deal.
    i need a headset and hate poeple who walka round with those thing on. the implant may be the answer.
    what do i hide in my desk? in high school used to be drugs. then schools got smart and you needed to hide it in your car or your bathroom or the little stash box you would grab on the way to a mid day break. ahh the life off a black and white photographer in the 70’s. (i ran into the briefcase of negatives in shuffeling for the move) i hid pencil collections in my first grade desk. i loved to write and the chance to grab that big fat black pencil and run it up to the pencil sharpener and get cranking out the stories was a calling. in catholic school 2-6 we had steves desk and the only things hidden were yo yos, tops, and fritos. jr high was locker land with mods and independant stdy time. the desk was an arm load of mobile carry stuff. i thin it was pre bck pack. high school i had multipe lockers so i could stash stuff in areas for quick spontaneous departure.
    bubby. its great to have you back. you and mr c have a wonderful placein my heart and i always smile when i see its you. and you picture looks exactly like i had you oictured. that doesnt happen often.
    how old is the janitor?

    i have disc

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like most Danish kids, I lugged all of my stuff – books, notebooks, pencil case, lunch box – to and from school every day, so I hid nothing in my desk. Of course, this wasn’t the case at the boarding school, but there, having a messy desk wasn’t an option. Also, we didn’t have lockers, there was just a long coat rack screwed to the wall by the door.

    Unlike Steve’s, our desks were intact with inkwells. They were freestanding desks, and there was too much space between them to dunk anybody’s braids in them. I hated those inkwells, or more accurately, I hated the pens we had to dip in them in order to write in ink, I usually managed to smear the ink before it dried. What a mess.

    Like Anna, I loved school, but it never occurred to me to hide it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yup. I could run the cord to an earplug up my shirt and down my sleeve to the palm of my hand and by resting my chin in my hand as if in rapt attention I could camouflage the earpiece.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Making the thing was the limit of my cunning. I almost never used it. There was nothing on the radio I was really interested in listening to.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. I was never sent to the principal in grade school, but was sent once in high school for wearing a shirt made of denim. The principal informed me that denim in any form was inappropriate attire for school. His exact words were that denim was “working class”.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Hiding stuff in an elementary school desk? Nothing comes to mind that far back. Hiding stuff in junior high school is another matter but that would have been locker contraband. The novel Candy by Terry Southern was passed surreptitiously among my classmates. I waited a long time for my turn to hide it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My mother taught Grade 3 and once had to drag a girl and her desk down two long corridors to the principal’s office. The girl in question wouldn’t let go of her desk when mom ordered her to the office, so mom just took both of them.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I can safely say I did not keep any contraband in my school desk. I would not have dared.

    My mother was a teacher and my dad the Lutheran minister.

    That said, nice to hear from you again, Bubby. I’ve missed you.

    S&h is slightly disturbed that he is now closer to graduation than you are.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. In 3rd grade, I was having just a little trouble memorizing my multiplication tables. Somehow, I got one of these ‘multiplier pencil boxes’:


    Of course, I got busted for using it on a test. It got confiscated and my folks got notified. My mom said that I should’ve gotten extra credit for being able to use a ‘slide rule.’

    Liked by 3 people

  12. The desks I remember were the lift top kind with the swivel seat. I loved the fact that all my stuff was save in the “box”. Every once in a while the teacher would have Clean Out Your Desk day which was a gas to see what everyone had in there – so in that class you didn’t want to hide much. I remember having a little packet of Kleenex, and we would make those carnations (you need a bobby pin), I had some of those one time.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Morning–

    Hey Bubby–
    some days I struggle with the college students here but at least they’ve finished HS.

    I don’t remember hiding anything. Maybe I stuffed papers in the back. Elementary school we had the flat, square desks with the one opening in the back. (Or would that be the front?? The side facing the chair anyway.) Sometimes there’d be the open end of the frame and that was a place to stuff wads of paper. Or most likely boogers. I have heard other people did that. Not me.
    But in 5th grade we had the slanted top with the swivel chair and the top opened up.
    Remember how you coated the erasure with elmers to make it slippery and then drew wheels on it to make it a race car and it would slide down the desk!
    That was when you got bored pouring glue on your hand and peeling off a layer of ‘skin’.

    Liked by 5 people

  14. Off-topic, I just got the postcard notification of Peter & Lou Berryman’s annual one-gig Minnesota tour. Again, it’ll be a house concert at Mary & Doug Olson’s beautiful place in St. Paul. I’m guessing there will be a potluck bar/dinner again but I need to confirm that. The concert is scheduled for Saturday, 11/21 at 7:30pm. As with most house concerts, seating is limited. To reserve a spot and get their address, contact Mary & Doug at 651-227-4358 or email at bodge51@yahoo.com

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Well, not to gross anyone out, but when I was in Grade 5 I was terribly stressed and unhappy, and I spent part of the year dealing with my stress by pulling out my hair on the top of my head. I had a small bald spot that no one noticed. I put the pulled strands in my textbooks in the sections that we had already completed, and I left them there, so that who ever had the books the next year probably found multiple strands of hair as they turned the pages. I am happy to say I stopped with the trichotillamania after a couple of months, all on my own.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It is when you repeatedly pull out your hair or eyelashes or eyebrows to the point you don’t have any.it is in the Obsessive Compulsive group of disorders. Usually anxiety-based. Not the same thing as Alopecia Areata, which is when your hair falls out on its own due to an autoimmune response, and then grows back on its own.


      1. I realize now, Steve, that you are cleverly referring to the photo of my dog. Poor Maggie is a hairier terrier thse days as her groomer is ill and she is a month past her scheduled beauty appointment. She will be groomed on November 30.


  16. I absolutely remember typing a response this morning before I went off for a day with my clients. But it’s clearly not here now. WP strikes again!

    Colored pens and markers. Even as a kid I thought that the ubiquitous pencil and blue or black pens that ruled school were boring. I never got to use said pens/markers, but I had them!


  17. I don’t remember much about what was in the desk, but I remember the desk itself, a metal thing with the chair attached. The top of the desk was wood, I think, and hinged upward. The lower part was painted a funny sort of taupe color and curved, so that it vaguely resembled a pelican’s beak, or what a pelican’s beak might look like if it was two feet wide. Third grade was the last year I had an assigned desk I could keep stuff in. After that it was either a locker or no storage space at all. Lockers were the same taupe color, if I recall correctly. Who decided on that color, and why?

    Liked by 1 person

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