Wicked Wednesday: Memories of School

Wicked Wednesday again. School has been back in session for a couple of weeks in school-busmost places. Wickeds, what’s one memory of when you were in school that really sticks out for you? Good or bad, we want to  know!

Barb: Goodness, so many memories. It’s hard to pick one. I’ll go one my friend Hilary tells about me. I think I remember it, though she remembers more vividly. When I was nine, in fourth grade, our teacher asked me to define a saucer. Without hesitating, I said, “It’s a small plate with an indentation intended for a cup.” She says she knew then I would be a writer! (Or maybe, as is a more accurate description, I would spend my life ‘splaining things to people.)

Edith, in her fifth grade Girl Scout uniform. Which she wore to school whenever she had a meeting after school.

Edith: I love it, Barb! For me, so many goofy moments. When I crawled under the desks to get to the circle rug in first grade instead of going around. When I got hot and took off my petticoat, layering it over my dress instead, and walked home that way. When I showed up at the end of the last day of fifth grade, already knowing I would have Mr. Edward Aguirre for sixth, at his classroom, called, “See ya next year, Eddie!” and dashed away. When I got kicked out of senior year biology for knitting in class (well-deserved). It’s a wonder I ever matured…or have I? Nothing so profound as to predict I’d be a writer, although I was Cub Editor of our school newspaper, the Rampage, my freshman year in high school.

Liz: I’ve actually told this story at job interviews – in my junior year of high school, we had to write a paper about A Tale of Two Cities. Being geeky enough to enjoy that sort of thing, I put a ton of effort into my paper. I’d loved the book, so it was a fun project for me. I turned it in, sat back and waited for my A. When Sister Virginia passed the papers out, I had a C+. I was horrified – and angry. After class, I marched up to speak with her about it. Her response? “This was too well-written for your age group. I thought you’d copied it from the CliffNotes.” Needless to say, she changed my grade!

Edith: Don’t suppose she bothered to check the Cliff Notes and see that yours was completely different? What a nerve…

Julie: Love these memories. And Edith, what a cutie you were! School memories are such a sorted lot. Some good, some bad. I remember trying out for the 9th grade play. I’d never done it before, but just thought I might like it. Plus I liked the drama kids. I was (am still, to a degree) very shy, so it took everything to sign up. Plus, it was for a musical, and my second grade teacher had already told me I couldn’t sing, and I’d believed her. (Still do, probably why I am such a champion for the kids in my life.) Anyway, I did the reading, and the director (English teacher by day) said “that was pretty good, Hennrikus. Would have been better if I could have heard you!” I blushed beet red, stammered, and didn’t get in the show. I did work backstage on costumes, but the theater bug was delayed until my senior year, when I volunteered to assistant direct. I’ve been in love ever since.

Jessie: Like Julie, I was extremely shy and for me, school required a lot of energy to crayonsendure. One of my most vivid memories is of my first day of first grade. My teacher noticed a child had scribbled with crayon on the walls of the in-class bathroom. When no one confessed she said we would all have to take turn scrubbing it off. Faced with the threat, a skinny boy with curly hair admitted he did it. The teacher dragged him to the front of the class, yanked down his pants, exposing his bare bottom to us all and spanked him until he howled. I never did get so I liked school.

Sherry: Oh, Jessie that is awful! My second grade teacher should have retired. She’d leave our room for prolonged periods and fall asleep. One day we were standing in line to have our papers graded and she fell asleep. We stood and stood until my best friend Betty picked up a wooden ruler and whapped it down on the wooden desk. Our teacher woke with a start but Betty didn’t get in trouble.

Readers: What’s your vivid school memory? Do tell!

22 Thoughts

  1. I loved school and there are so many memories it’s hard to pick one. But an important one took place in my Junior year at Salem High School. Mr. Lyons was my English teacher. I was editor of the Advance, our High School magazine. Gathered the usual and expected “A”s on book reports, essays, etc. It was a huge surprise to find a “D” on my report card. Naturally, it had to be a mistake. But no, it wasn’t. Mr. Lyons said “Oh sure, you do “A” work, but I know you’re just dashing it off in homeroom period, or rushing through it the night before it’s due. If you ever get an “A” from me, you’ll earn it.” And I did! It was a great lesson–one I still remember.

  2. We moved to Ohio when I entered high school. I was astonished to learn that corporal punishment was allowed, the vice-principal carrying out a paddling on a bare bottom with his office door open, the anguished cries of his victims echoing down the hallways. And yes, my entire gym class was paddled once.

  3. First grade, at a Quaker school in Pennsylvania (our class was housed in a former stable). I had been reading for a couple of years by then, but the teachers refused to believe me, so they gave me a battery of tests. “Can you tell us a word that ends with two Ls, dear?” Uh, yeah? “Ball.” Then one of the test administrators got cute and, hoping to show me up, said, “Do you know a word that begins with two Ls?” I looked her in the eye and said, “Llama.” End of discussion.

  4. My most horrifying school memory was sitting in detention with Sister James Margaret. I was in the sixth grade and had been caught passing a Playboy magazine from John D to Timmy B in religion class. In my defense, I’d no idea what I was passing because it was held under the table. I had been moved to the boy’s table the previous week for talking too much at the girl’s table. (Imagine that!) Sister James Margaret had me sit next to John, the class bully, but directly across from Paul S, the man of my dreams. I was terrified of John, so when he elbowed me and whispered to pass it on, I did. Of course, at that moment she turned away from the blackboard. I was mortified, but declined to tell her who had passed me the magazine. I did not want to feel John’s wrath -I still had the egg-shaped lump on my forehead from his knocking me into a wall two days ago – and I didn’t want my classmates to think I was a tattletale.
    I tried to explain to Sister that my dad was a detective and I couldn’t possibly stay at school until he came home. He sometimes worked until midnight.
    “You are very lucky, Miss Kurth, that I’ve no pressing social engagements,” she said. I’ll never forget it. We sat there until after five at night. I could hear my dad’s shoes clomping down the hallway across the tiled floor. Dad had a brief discussion with Sister, then jerked his head towards the door indicating it was time to go. I didn’t receive any punishment at home, but my Pop-Pop got an earful from Nana about taking me to burlesque shows. That’s a whole different story. I had to sit next to Sister James Margaret’s desk for the next week. She soon learned that I could talk to anyone about anything and sent me back to the girl’s table to get some peace and quiet for herself.

  5. What a great idea, Wickeds! I have enjoyed reading all of the stories. My story, not all that exciting, is something I remind myself of when I wonder why I think I can write but also handy for me as a teacher. When I was in what was then called primary 1 (1st grade I think) we were asked to write a sentence using the word, “well”. I wrote, “Well, as for the crazy man, he walked backwards.” The teacher zipped over to my desk and called another teacher over. Being shy I was terrified, they were not pleased, I could tell. The reason this story is instructive for me as a teacher is that it took place in a city school. We did not have wells. We turned on the spigot and water came out. Children learn from what they hear and experience and I was surrounded by women telling stories, well, you can imagine…

  6. Two incidents stand out: winning a huge dictionary for my poetry as an 8th grader, only to have it challenged by a senior who’d lost the competition. She said mine was too mature for my age and I couldn’t possibly have written it. Fortunately, my mom hadn’t emptied the garbage in my room and brought my many draft copies up to school. I lugged that thing around for years! Second: raising my skirt in elementary school to my chin to show off my new gym shorts– which I’d forgotten to wear! Edith’s petticoat story brought that back!

  7. Enjoyed reading all of these.

    On the other hand, I’m trying to think up a school story that stands out in my mind. The one I keep coming back to is in 1st grade my teacher was reading Charlotte’s Web to us aloud in class. When she got to the end, I lost it and started to cry. While I’ve reread some of EB Web’s other books over the years, I’ve never been able to bring myself to reread that one.

  8. I loved school… There was one thing I didn’t like.
    When I was a child in elementary school, I was frightened when our teachers were absent and someone else was there at the head of the classroom trying to teach us. One time, there was a man who waas covering our fourth grade for a few days. Many classmates acted like squirmy, noisy critters. By the end of the first morning, the door to our classroom was opened by the fifth grade teacher, who poked her head in and reminded us that our teacher would not be happy with us this day.

    When Mrs. S returned, we hoped that the trouble with the sub would be erased. No, the fifth grade teacher came up to our line as we were on the way home for lunch, and asked, “Have you boys and girls told your teacher about the noise n your classroom when she was away?” No one said a word. Fourth grade teacher said, “We’ll discuss it after lunch.’”

    Honestly, I no sooner walked into the house when I doubled over with pains in my tummy. My mother tried to urge me to tell her what was happening… she knew I was stressed, and did not have appendicitis. She also remembered that these teachers had, a generation before, been her teachers, and she was still a bit frightened of them. She put me to bed, gave me a glass of ginger ale to sip, and told me to try to take a nap.

    I heard from my friends that our teacher had pulled out all the stops – tossing out terms like “disappointment,” “you should be ashamed,” “can’t I leave you for a day without bringing shame on this class?”
    See the blogpost at https://mlatelablog.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/i-never-thought-i-would-be-a-substitute-teacher/
    Mary Latela

    1. The guilt some teachers used to impose (at least I hope it’s in the past!). I had terrible stomach aches myself for a few years in elementary school.

  9. Sherry, my second grade teacher used to fall asleep, too, while we were giving oral book reports! There must be something very, very boring about second graders…

  10. Second grade. We were having a school talent show and I auditioned to play a piano solo. I’d been studying piano since I was 4 and had given 2 concerts at my church and played a number of piano/organ duets with my dad (who was the church organist). The night of the talent show I marched confidently to the piano, carefully placed the thick phone book I needed to raise me to the correct height to reach the keyboard, seated myself, raised my hands . . . and promptly froze. I sat there for a few minutes, got up, bowed and fled to the wings of the stage. I still get embarrassed thinking about it.

  11. I loved school, probably because I got a lot of attention as the smart kid. I made friends easily, and we did not have corporal punishment! The only thing I never had? A boyfriend. Many friends who were boys, but no boyfriend. Probably because I played up the brainiac thing. (It all sorted itself out when I got to college, no worries!) And Edith, I, too, wore my girl scout uniform on meeting days!

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