In my first grade classroom, we each had our own desk. The desks were nailed to the floor in rows and the desk was attached to the seat of the person in front of you. The seats flipped up and down. I can’t believe no one ever lost a finger in one of those desks. There were still holes in each desk for inkwells, but by the time I entered school we used just pencils. My teacher, Mrs. Gassman, insisted that we know our place in the classroom (in more ways than one) ….for me that meant Row 4 Seat 2.
We had coloring pages from a mimeograph machine. Sometimes they were still damp with ink when the teacher passed them out. We had to put X’s on the right answer, we had to circle the right answer in a specific color. We had to copy arithmetic problems from the chalkboard into our tablet full of yellow lined paper. Later in the year, we got a math workbook with tear out pages.
We were graded in Conduct! For some reason I always got a C in conduct…. that was the grade that my mom and dad looked at first. I think maybe I talked too much. They were never very happy with me and they certainly never thought it was the teacher’s fault.
We learned to read about Alice, Jerry, Jip, and Mother and Father. Every family in our readers had a dog or a cat or both. When I became a 1st grade teacher in 1973, the stories had been updated but there was still a dog or a cat or both. Anyone remember reading about Pug?
And then there was recess! Other kids to play with! There were swings, and slides, and teeter totters, and merry go rounds. We jumped rope. I still have scars on my knees from falling down in the stones and on the sidewalks. There were no safe surfaces to play on. And little girls wore dresses so our knees were not even remotely protected.
We played tag, red rover, London Bridge, Duck Duck Goose. We played marbles. We pretended a lot. We would search for fools gold in the stones and pretend we had found the treasure. As we grew older the boys would chase the girls and we might get a game of baseball or foursquare going. But there was never enough time! The bell would ring and we would line up and return to our classrooms.
More school adventures to follow…