Monday, March 06, 2006

First Day Of School

Mother dropped me off at the door to my classroom and headed for home, not realizing that I was fifty feet behind her. When she arrived home with me just in back of her, she hooted and hollered and said something in Portuguese that I don't think was very nice.

Grabbing me by the ear, she half dragged, half pulled me to school. She made sure that I was in the classroom before leaving for home. To her dismay, I was back in the house within minutes. Again, she hooted and hollered, but instead of grabbing me by the ear, she took hold of my arm, nearly dislocating my shoulder, and pushed me in front of her all the way to school.

This time, she took me to the principal's office. Miss Agnes was the principal of Pohukaina School and although she gave the impression of being a battle-axe, she was in reality an angel in disguise.

Being more experienced with kids than my mother, after all I was my mother's first born and Miss Agnes had dealt with thousands of youngsters, she got to the root of the problem in a hurry. I was determined not to wear short pants to school. Once that got ironed out, mother took me home where I changed to long pants and walked back to school on my own. And to this day, some 70 years later, I still do not wear short pants or shorts of any kind.

During those years we said the Pledge of Allegiance in school every morning. Maybe not in sync or in tune but when we sang the National Anthem or God Bless America it was with fiery gusto. If I remember correctly, we also recited a short non-denominational prayer at the start of the school day. Today God is a nasty word in the classroom.

We learned a few other things that are not taught today such as personal hygiene, good manners, respect for other people and their property and being responsible for our actions.

We all had to drink a small bottle of milk every morning during short recess. The bottle size was a gill (1/4 of a pint) and it cost five cents. For the first two or three years of my schooling my mother made a deal with my teachers so that I took a dozen eggs to school on Monday morning and my teacher would pay for my milk that week.

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