Tuesday, March 02, 2004

At age five in 1947, I started school at New Friendship Grammar School. The school has three rooms, the Little Room, the Big Room, and the kitchen. There were also two cloak rooms where we hung our coats. These were very large rooms and now one has been converted to bathroom for the community center the building has become.

The Little Room held grades one through four and the teacher was Mrs. Edith Hooper. Of course, we called her Miss Edith, in the southern manner. The Big Room held grades five through eight and my Aunt Velma Sells was the teacher. The Big Room also had a large stage.

There were no restrooms in the school building. The toilets were 2-seaters located about 80 yards behind the school. The Boys’ Toilet (we always pronounced these phrases as if the words were capitalized) was to the left and the Girls’Toilet was to the right. The downhill path to the Girls was worn smooth by many running feet, and in wet weather it was slick, so we would have to walk to the side. It was on this path that Elaine Latham broke her leg.

In the Little Room, while class was in session, one boy and one girl could be gone to the toilets. On each side of the outside door hung large pieces of cardboard with a big red circle on one side and a big green circle on the back. The girls’ sign was on the left; the boys’ to the right. If I wanted to go to the toilet, I had to look at the sign for my sex. If it was green, I could go. If it was red, it meant that another girls was gone. I would have to wait until she got back before I could go. If I were really desperate I would go stand by the sign so there would be no opportunity for another girl to go before me.

When the sign was green, I would turn it over to red as I left and back to green when I returned.

In the Big Room, only one child at a time could be gone. The blackboard by the outside door was used to record the initials of who was gone. If someone was gone and I wanted to go, I would put my initials under theirs. Sometimes there would be a long column of initials. When a student came back in, he erased his initials from the top and the next person on the list was free to go. I remember everyone’s initials to this day-----MJW,DJC, RLS, EAL, HTS, JAL. --- and how they looked up on the board.

During recess, we would run to and from the toilet and the girls never went alone. It was a social occasion and we would invite someone to go with us. It was a time to talk.

My children have always been afraid of pit toilets like we had at school. When Anne was small, she called them “deep bathrooms.” On our trip to Alaska at each campground she would ask as we started to the toilet “Is it deep?” (It always was!)

Perhaps she, like us, was afraid of falling in. No one at Friendship ever fell into the toilet. No one knew personally of a child ever falling in, but we had all heard of it happening. It was a myth passed from year to year. Most said it happened to someone at the Glendale school.

1. What did we do when it rained and we had to go to the toilet? We went anyway and just ran faster. None of us had raincoats.

2. We called the class sessions “Books.” We said “Books In” and “Books Out” for the beginning and dismissing of classes.

3. We feuded with Patsy Hopper and her sister every time they enrolled, and to a lesser extent, with the West girls, Gloria and Sandra. I don’t know what these quarrels were about. We got spanked once for it, about the 3rd grade. I deeply regret this now. As poor as we were, the permanent students were immensely better off than the more itinerant families like the Hoppers and the Wests, who moved into and out of the rental shacks in the community.

4. I think we called home plate “home place.”

5. The best position was the best girl ballplayer in a grade, especially the best girl ballplayer in the 8th grade. She usually got to pitch. I always coveted that position, the first girl chosen when we chose up sides to play ball. Since I don’t remember that being me, I just not have been the best but I can’t remember anyone else being any better.

6. Sadly, I can’t remember much of anything about our schoolwork. How were classes conducted? All I remember is going up to the table at the front of the Little Room for reading lessons. We would all read in turn When Joyce Latham got to a word she didn’t know, she would lower her voice, mumble something and then go on. Her strategy seemed to work all the time. I think we spent all of the 4th grade studying the salmon fishing industry of Washington State.

7. As a part of some pest control or health program, we would have a period some years where we would collect things like rat tails and crows’ feet and take them to school. Mrs. Edith kept them in a gallon fruit jar in the metal cabinet at the back of the room.

Games we played

Go In and Out the Window. We hated this because we had to be paired off in couples, boy and girl, boy and girl.

Jacks. Jacks was an indoor game that we played in the wintertime or in rainy weather. We played a straight game of jacks, first ones, then twos, etc. If the game went on, we played chicken coop, in which the jacks were captured in a “coop” made by cupping the left hand on the floor. Jacks was not a very competitive game. There didn’t seem to be such a thing as winning this game. The point of the game seemed to be not to miss so one could keep on playing without having to pass the turn to another player.

Other games we played

London Bridge
Leap Frog
Drop the Handkerchief
Red Rover
Stealing Sticks
Crack the Whip
Slinging Statues
May I?
Here We Go Loop-de-Loo
Red Light

Jump Rope Rhymes

Down in the Meadow

Down in the meadow where the green grass grows
Stood a little girl as pretty as a rose
Along came a pretty boy and kissed her on the nose.
How many kisses did she get?
(Then jump and count until you miss.)


Cinderella, dressed in yellow.
Went downstairs to see her fellow.
How many kisses did she get?

(Were we obsessed with kisses?)

Counting Out Rhymes

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo
Catch a --------by his toe.
If he hollers make him pay
Fifteen dollars every day.
O-U-T spells out goes you
You old dirty dishrag you.

(I regret to say that we filled in the blank with the N word. My children learned this by saying Tiger, a much better thing to do.)


One potato, two potatoes,
Three potato, Four,
Five potato, six potato, Seven potato, more.

My MOther and your MOther

My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes
My mother hit your mother right in the nose.
What color was the blood?


Order in the court,
Judge’s got to spit.
All who can’t swim
Had better git.

Ha, ha, hee, hee
Can’t catch me.
Can’t catch a flea
On Grandpa’s knee.

UNcle Carmen drove our school bus. It was a blue van with wooden benches around three sides in the back. The best seats were on each side by the windows that opened.

There were three bus routes. I rode the first bus route that we called “First Bus.” It went to the store and left the high school students there and then went directly to school. I didn’t have to stand down at the road waiting for the bus in the cold and rain. I could look out our kitchen window and see the bus coming on Peddy Road in plenty of time to walk down to the main road.

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