A Baby Boomer's Scrapbook

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Grade 4:  Mrs. Curtis


The baby boom must have been going strong in Michigan because our fourth grade class was held in the Mills Town Hall.  It could be because I was so small but, to me, with only one class in it, the Town Hall seemed like a pretty big building.  The entrance was on the north end and there was a long row of windows on the east side (I don't remember if there were also windows on the west side) and the large single room was pretty well lit most of the time.  It had a wood floor with a raised area one or two steps up sort of like a stage in the back of the room.  The bathrooms were way in the back down a short hall to the right and were just sort of indoor outhouses.  I think I remember that some days that fact was real noticeable.


The kid's desks faced south and the teacher's desk was off to the right because there was a wood stove centered in the front of the room just in front of the stage.  I felt lucky to have a seat right in front of the stove because it took a while for the place to heat up and, early in the morning, it was pretty cold in the back of the room. Whoever sat near the door must have been freezing half the time.  It could have been that we were arranged in alphabetical order with the "a's" and "b's" in the front and the "x, y's and z's" in the back.  I remember that Violet Wendell was in the back.  I sometimes wonder what happened to Violet because of the way she was treated.  She was overweight and sometimes she was dirty and smelled.  I'd like to think that I treated her better than the others but I doubt it.  It must have been terrible for her have to been called names or ignored through most of her childhood and, at this point in my life, I wish I could go back and say "I'm sorry".


On a brighter side, I remember that Mrs. Evans, who I had later in the 6th grade in Sanford as a math teacher, was a roving music teacher and used to com e by once or twice a week to give us music lessons.  One day she had us all sing a song while she walked around the room, stopping at each desk and bending over to listen to us individually.  Her com ment to me was that I had a strong voice but was flat.


Oh well, there went my budding career as the next Elvis!


My strongest memory of that year was when, early on one cold fall day, kids were gathered around Mrs. Curtis on the front step when I walked up.  Apparently, my teacher from the 3rd grade had submitted some of my drawings of insects and other critters at the County Fair and I had won $5.  Mrs. Curtis was waiting there to congratulate me.  Wow, $5 was a fortune to a kid in 1955 and boy was I surprised.  She quickly handed a blue ribbon and an envelope to me.  While I opened the envelope to find the money, Mrs. Curtis explained to me that the other teacher had taken $1.50 from the amount to cover her expenses and that she was sure that I wouldn't mind that, being the charitable young man that I was, she had donated the remaining $3.50 to a good cause.  Of course with all the kids around, about the only thing I could do is fake a smile and try real hard to hold back the tears at the loss of more money than I had ever seen in my young life.


Oh well, there went my budding career as a rich and famous artist.


There was a "Spelling Bee".  I was always pretty good at spelling and almost always got 100% on my spelling tests so I expected to do well and possibly even win.  I studied hard for it and, although I don't think anyone else noticed or cared much, was very embarrassed when I missed a word when I was in 5th or 6th place.  I sort of tuned out after that and don't remember who won.


Oh well, there went my budding career as a respected and prosperous editor at Barnes and Noble!


I don't think there was any playground equipment at the Town Hall so us boys spent a lot of our recess and lunch times throwing and catching balls.  Softballs, footballs and, of course in Michigan , snowballs.  We may have even had a soccer ball that we didn't know what to do with.  I didn't pay much attention at that age so I don't remember at all what the girls did with their free time.


I must have had at least some interest in girls at the time though because I remember one in particular.  Ruth Bailey came to school some time in the middle of the school year and it seems that just about every boy in class thought of her as the prettiest girl in school.  I suspect she got a lot of attention that year.  I guess Tom Boman must have been more interested than the rest of us because he and Ruth ended up getting married right after High School.


I don't have a 4th grade class photo.


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