Sixth Grade

I looked at a classroom photo I found recently of my sixth grade class. It was the only class picture found in my box of old photos. I love digging around in there occasionally; I never know what I will find. The picture was a little bit torn and creased, the worse for wear sitting helter-skelter in a box, but there I was sitting at my desk, hands folded, two braids hanging down my chest, freckles across my nose, awkward smile, still a child, but sneaking peeks at life’s next adventure. I tried to remember what was happening and what it was like.

One thing I remember clearly is the day I got marched into the Principal’s office with an eraser on my head along with seven other girls. I think one other girl had an eraser on her head also. This is how it happened. Half of our class went to Music and the other half to PE. The girl’s PE teacher was absent and so there were the eight of us left in the classroom with no teacher. We decided to play eraser tag. Guess we were making a lot of noise and the school secretary below heard us and came up and marched us down to the Principal’s office. She made us keep the erasers on our heads to provide some visual evidence of our errant behavior I guess. We got a talking to. I don’t remember what he said. I just know that when I got home, he had called my mother. She didn’t elaborate just let me know. Today you practically have to commit a felony before a mother is called if they could even find her. In the 50’s, Moms were usually always home.

When we went to PE, we changed into a one-piece dark blue playsuit with our names embroidered on the front and put on sneakers and socks. We learned to play team sports, softball, volleyball, and girl’s basketball. I’ll bet all you guys and half of you gals don’t even know what girl’s basketball is. It was called six-on-six basketball. Their were three forwards from Team A and three guards from team B on the half court; and on the other half court three forwards from Team B and three guards from Team A. They were all not allowed to go past half court and were allowed only two dribbles before shooting or passing. It was really big in high schools in Iowa from the early1900’s to the 1970’s. I think our PE teacher was from Iowa. Could be. After several court cases from women’s libbers, it was fazed out.

After we played our game, we went back into the locker room, took a shower, dressed, put our stuff in a locker and went back to class. How we did all that in an hour I don’t know. I don’t suppose we dallied. That’s for sure.

Peter’s favorite comic strip is Big Nate, the trials and tribulations of a sixth grade boy. Nate is always in trouble at school. Mrs. Godfrey is his homeroom teacher. He hates her and she has it in for him. He is always in detention, is bigger than life, and is very optimistic about all his exploits. Boy-girl intrigue is starting up and causing problems among friends. Brings back memories of those years in middle school when you were cautiously anxious to stroll headlong into that teenage maelstrom. It is a fun read.


One thought on “Sixth Grade”

  1. Your sixth grade memory sparked a memory of mine. Our suits were “maroon”, the school color of the East Central hornets, and not at all flattering for any budding fashion conscious girl! In the early 60’s of rural, coastal Mississippi, radiating between childhood play and teenager-hood, I peered into the awe-inspiring and frightening teenage years looming ahead and thought that sixth grade was the best place of all to be. Looking back, it was the last bastion of my childhood.

    My closest childhood neighbors (1/4 mile down the road) had a son in my class that everyone called Pee Wee and a daughter Phyllis, just younger. In days past, their grandfather had been a barber in his own tiny, white frame barbershop, between Pee Wee’s house and his grandparents. But, that summer before sixth grade, we three dressed up in cast off clothes stored in the barbershop, and I remember that Pee Wee dressed up like his grandma. O how we laughed, setting each other off with peals of laughter, rolling about in piles of clothes, holding our aching bellies! Such was the innocence of children in that day and time.

    Pee Wee grew up tall and was a major asset on our high school football team. He graduated from the same university that I did, married a local girl, raised three children and recently retired as a bank president. It has been some years since I saw Pee Wee, but whenever I see him, I always see shadows of his boy self dressed in his grandma’s old calico dress. It makes me smile.

    Have a lovely day, Joanne! Save a spot for me on your couch. I’m bound to get there one of these days for a stupendously long chat! Love, Mary

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