Thursday, April 21, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I am doing my best to knock the socks off my writer’s block, and that’s a truly strange image. To do so, I have clarified an idea for a summer play and am grinding at it. Also, I’m burning the “Daylight” in my room to help combat my seasonal associative disorder, (SAD), I believe they call it. I thought a trip to Dubois Hill might also perk me up amidst this long, cold winter of my creative dysfunction.
In my last post, I wrote about 2nd through 6th grades, and the teachers I remember from then. Junior High is the next logical place to disinter some recollections, but before I do, I need to recall a couple more memorable characters from Bay Road School. The first was our art teacher. I’m not sure of her name. Something like Miss or Mrs. Hertel? I can see her smile, and I remember how wonderful a teacher she was, and how she supported and nurtured my creativity. I wasn’t sure if I had any talent with pencils or pastels or paint, but she assured me that I did and invited me to be a member of art club. Bay Road School Art Club met after school in the art room once or twice a month. We sat at tables or on the floor or out in the hall and did our “art.” I remember someone working on a giant comic strip and someone painting the view from inside a house through a window. My personal favorite creation came when Miss H had us make a strange shape, and then craft a picture from that shape. Somehow mine became a cowboy with a huge hat, a stagecoach behind him, some cactus, and boot hill. I liked it, but our teacher just loved it. She told me it was wonderful. Time passed, and I kind of forgot about my cowboy art, but then Bay Road had an evening festival or fair for students and parents. There on the wall of the hall, as I passed by with my mom and dad, hung my surreal cowboy. There were people looking at it and enjoying it. I have never forgotten that moment.
My other memorable character was Mr. Bob Cobbett, our gym teacher and the hairiest man I have ever encountered in my life. We fifth graders were amazed at the hirsute nature of this very likeable man. Hair curled out of Mr. Cobbett’s collar, out of his sleeves, and he looked like he was wearing dark mittens all the time. PE was different in the late 50’s. One of our activities was marching. We learned all about “dress right dress” and “to the left” and “at ease” and such, and marched along the lines on the gym floor. At that time in history, society still must have been enough enamored of the military-industrial complex, or whatever it was called, to feel that a good thing for 11 year olds to learn was “present arms.” My other memory of 6th grade gym is a bit of a nightmare. I believe that 6th grade was the first year we had to wear gym suits, t-shirts and shorts with Webster Physical Education or something printed on them. I don’t know if there is still a school in the world that requires uniform exercise gear, but those were different times. Anyway, one day I made the horrible mistake of wearing a pair of boxer shorts to school on gym day. The lengthy boxers were longer than my gym shorts. Try as I would, I could not pull them up far enough to make them invisible. As my underwear was showing, I was picked on unmercifully. At one point, Mr. Cobbett walked past me and patted me on the back as if to say, “Sorry, buddy, but whatever you do, don’t wear those shorts again.” He was a nice man.
So ends most of my elementary school reminiscence, but one observation still remains. When I think about my classmates in elementary school, I have male dominated memories. When I think of 7th grade, though, suddenly there are a lot of feminine faces and shapes wandering about my recollections. Like a school day, biology, too, has a strict schedule.
Monday, December 20, 2010
We were students at Ridge Road Elementary School through fourth grade. None of the three years that followed first grade with Mrs. Todd are so clear in my memory as that year was. Second grade is probably the least clear. I remember only that our teacher was Mrs. Miller, young and pretty, I think, who went off on maternity leave somewhere around mid-year. She was replaced by Mrs. Louise Smith, one of my mom's best friends from college, and a person I had known for as long as I could remember, which, of course, wasn't terribly long. I even called her by her nickname, "Butchie," when we weren't in school. My two sole specific memories of that year are when some kid, I'm not sure who, began behaving really badly, and our principal, Mr. VanHoover, came down to our class. When the kid continued to twist and shout, Mr. VanHoover whacked him one on the butt. How the times change. For most of my teaching career, striking a kid in any way was called "making a career decision." My other second grade memory involves "show and tell" or maybe we called it "news" that year. I had gone to the movies with my dad on a Sunday afternoon and seen a really cool science fiction movie and a western set in South America. The South American western included piranha and an anaconda, and starred Frank Lovejoy, I think. I loved both the movies, but when I told about it in "show and tell" the next day, I decided to embroider the experience, by saying we also saw 20 cartoons, and our whole family came. Then I worried for a week about getting caught in my untruth. I still wonder what possessed me to enlarge upon such a great time.
Monday, December 6, 2010
When I attended my 45th high school reunion in August, I talked to a bunch of people about my "Dubois Hill" blog. I assured them that I would be blogging more, and soon, about our growing up. It didn't happen, though. I was overwhelmed with family responsibilities and the responsibility of writing and directing a play as a fundraiser in mid-October for our town library. September and October passed and I hadn't blogged at all. Then November began, and I started thinking about the play I have to write for next summer. "Thinking" is the operative word; I was suffering from writer's block. Now December has begun, and I am still without an idea for SUMMERPLAY. I hope that blogging again might get my stalled creativity started.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Our house was the last house to sell on Pineview Drive in Webster in the summer of 1953. The houses on Pineview were built for the World War II vets and their families. My birth year, 1947, was the second official year of the post-war Baby Boom, so there were lots of kids my age on our new street.