My kindergarten teacher was a young woman named Miss Rixford. She was in her early 20’s, and had long dark hair with bangs. She was pretty, but not gorgeous. I was just four years old when I arrived in her classroom, something unheard of today. Other than the brief physical description, I don’t remember much about Miss Rixford, except that she really wasn’t warm and friendly. She was nice, but there was something cool and reserved about her. Whenever I think about her, I always see her in a particular dress that she used to wear. It was green and blue plaid, with overall type straps and she wore a long white sleeved blouse underneath. In hind sight I don’t think she liked kids much or teaching. Nevertheless, I loved going to school and playing with all the neat stuff, especially, the faux grocery store items and cash register. That was probably the beginning of my serial entrepreneurship. Class was only three or four hours long but we packed a lot of activities into that class time.
My first experience with graham crackers was in kindergarten. Every day, we would get milk and graham crackers as a snack. I always looked forward to snack time because I liked to eat in class, but I also dreaded it because after snack time it was required that we take a nap. I don’t know how long the naps were but each kid had a towel they would lie down on and sleep. I never slept. I hated naps. I would keep my eyes open and look around at all the other kids who apparently, were napping. Every day it was the same. Today, I can’t imagine going through life without a nap every now and then.
I still remember most of the kids names. I was boy crazy even way back then. I had a crush on a boy named Tim. He had dark hair and long eyelashes. I was way too shy back then to be myself. I was also way behind most of the other kids in coordination skills. I could barely hold a pair of scissors to cut paper, let alone draw something decent. But still, I loved all the crafty things I learned. One time we each had a long piece of butcher paper that was bigger than we were and we had to partner up with another kid and trace each other on the paper and then draw in the details of the face, etc. It was fun but very difficult for me. Another time we had to draw a train and I remember looking at Janine Smith’s drawing and thinking how beautiful and pretty it was. It looked like a real train with gorgeous details of the caboose. Mine, on the other hand barely looked like rectangles and I was embarrassed. How come I couldn’t draw what I was seeing?
Even though I was behind the other kids physically, I’m pretty sure I was ahead of them mentally. I thought and acted more like a little adult than a kid, but in school, I was too shy and insecure to express my thoughts openly. I rode the bus home everyday. It was bus no. 2 and the bus driver’s name was Mr. Johnson. He was an older man probably in his late 50’s. He had gray hair, wrinkles, and he wore eye glasses over the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He was a very sweet man. I just loved him. He knew all the kids names and he made sure that we didn’t get rowdy or disrespectful during the ride to or from school. Every day, I would get dropped off in front of my house at exactly noon. I know the exact time because Perry Mason came on at noon and it was my favorite show. My mom and I would have lunch and watch Perry Mason together. It was the perfect way to end my school day and begin my day at home with my mom.
Oh. “J” your memories are so clear and crisp. You were so young to be in school and away from you mother. My kindergarten memories are very limited and I was nearly a year older when I started. My birthday is in March so I turned five then started school the next September. I think my memories really start the next year, from first grade I have many fragmented memories, but kindergarten let me see. There is a big blank where the teacher should be. She didn’t make much of an impression on me. The kindergarten room in Cottonwood Arizona, though, was on the main highway as it wound through downtown. The road took a sharp turn to the right before entering the one block long central shopping area. I know this because I have been back to see, and on that turn was what seemed to me to be a large Baptist church, and back behind the church was a small building that housed the kindergarten.
I wonder now if the kindergarten class was offered as part of the church. My brothers and sisters and I walked to that church nearly every Sunday morning for Sunday School and church, then walked home for lunch. Well dinner because it was the only meal we ate on Sundays. My trip to the kindergarten class, possibly in the afternoon, was by tricycle. Yes, I rode my tricycle to school when I was five. We lived on 6th street so I suspect my peddling took me at least 6 blocks. I would have had to cross at least 5 side streets and I went through the drive through of a gas station. This is very clear to me. I may have only done it once and is possible that my mother walked me to school but the memory is only of the tricycle ride through the gas station, across a pedestrian crossing on a bridge, down a ramp and parking in front of the school, and feeling very grown up and full of adventure.
Pulling the memories from my older brain, the only other thing I can remember is putting on blue smocks and finger painting. Oh what fun, I could get as dirty as I wanted and it was called art. The memories may be limited but I can still feel the happiness, the feeling of fun. I even remember lying on my mat and ‘napping’. As an adult I still love my nap, a quiet time to dream and think and in this case remember. “GVS”