Saturday, January 28, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 4

One nice thing about the 52 Stories project is that you can select from a number of different categories for each week's theme. You don't have to write about your life in any particular order. This week I am writing about school, using the following question:
What was your first introduction to formal education - preschool, kindergarten, homeschooling? What do you remember about those first few years?

Lawson Elementary
My family moved from Chicago to Des Moines when I was 5. As the youngest of 4 children, I was the only one still at home during the day with my mom. That fall, my parents tried to enroll me in first grade at Holy Trinity Catholic School where my older brother was going to be a second grader. I would be 6 in October, and they were hoping the school would let my young age slip by since the cutoff date for turning 6 was September 1. The school wouldn't budge however, and as it did not offer kindergarten my parents had to look for an alternative. I ended up at Lawson Elementary School, which is located in the nearby school district of Johnston. That is interesting in and of itself, as Lawson was 3.8 miles from our house, and Woodlawn Elementary in Des Moines was only .7 miles away. However, over-crowding at Woodlawn necessitated that children in the neighborhood be distributed among other schools. A new elementary school which was built on my street - Samuelson Elementary  - would not open until 1965.

kindergarten picture
I have a vague recollection of my mom dropping me off the first day of school, and the tears that followed. After all, I had been used to being with her every day, and even my beloved brother wasn't at the same school. I remember little else of kindergarten other than the fact that I rode the bus every day. The bus picked me up at the corner of Bel-Aire Road and Lawnwoods Drive, a distance of 7 houses. The Edwards family lived on that corner, and Rick Edwards was given the responsibility (by our moms) of watching out for me on the bus. He was a worldly third grader.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church

The next school year my parents sent me to Holy Trinity with my brother. As I understand it from a neighbor, the kids from my area who had been at Lawson for kindergarten were transferred to Cowles Elementary School in Windsor Heights for first and second grades, moving to Samuelson when it opened. So either way I would have had a new school for first grade.

My brother and I took the bus to Holy Trinity every day, this time being picked up at the corner of Lawnwoods Drive and Lindlavista Way. I would guess this to be a couple blocks of walking each way. I didn't mind riding the bus most of the time. However, if someone misbehaved in the classroom, certain teachers punished everyone by making them all stay after school. This would result in me missing the bus. I was lucky in that if my brother didn't see me get on the bus, he would wait after school for me. Because my dad had the only car we owned at work, we would have to walk home. That was a two and a half mile walk. This being before the age of cell phones, we had no way of letting mom know that we had been delayed. How frantic she must have been when we didn't arrive home at the normal time! Fortunately this did not happen often.

friends rocking the HT uniform
We had to wear a uniform each day, with the boys consisting of white shirts and navy blue slacks and the girls wearing white shirts under navy blue jumpers. A navy blue sweater was permitted on cool days. The big girls - those in 8th grade - got to graduate out of the jumpers and into navy blue skirts and white shirts. In all cases, however, the hem of your jumper or skirt had to touch the kneeler when you were on your knees in church. And believe me, they checked! On the last day of the school year, we were allowed to wear a skirt or a dress.

I have mostly fond memories of Holy Trinity. We had to take a sack lunch each day, but twice a year the mothers would come and serve us beef burger sandwiches with pickles and chips. It was such a thrill for me to get to see my mom then. Many of my teachers, all nuns, were quite good and encouraged my writing and poetry. I left Holy Trinity at the end of 7th grade. By then I had some good friends on my street who attended Meredith Junior High, and I wanted to go to school with them. On the last day of 7th grade I took my Kodak Instamatic with me to snap a few photos of my friends. Over the years we lost touch, so it is nice to have the pictures to reflect back on.
last day of 7th grade on the playground


Claire Becker said...

Photos are a great addition - unfortunately mine are all packed in boxes right now. Looking forward to next week now

Kim Wolterman said...

I enjoy using photos in my posts, so thank you. I need to figure out what I want to write about this weekend as well.