Posted by: patwogan | July 28, 2009

School Days, School Days, Good Old Golden Rule Days

I can remember the name of every teacher I had in Elementary School and most of them in High School.  My Kindergarten teacher at Riley School in Independence was Gladys Smith.  She wore glasses and had dark hair which was worn in a bob, the fashion at the time, with finger waves.  The big thing I remember about Kindergarten was that we had to have a clean handkerchief pinned to our dresses/shirts.  I wonder how we would wipe our noses with the handkerchief pinned to our bodice, but I guess it must not have been too much of a problem since kids usually wipe their noses on their sleeves anyway.  We also had to have our fingernails and hands inspected every morning for cleanliness.  We were also asked every Monday whether or not we had attended church or Sunday school the day before.  My, how things have changed.  Miss Smith also was the director of the rhythm band.  I have mentioned in another post that I played the cymbals in that band.  The important thing about the band was that I was in “love” with the band director, Danny Anzelmo.  He was so handsome in his bandleader suit. 

I think I mentioned in another post the fact that he and David Fackler were playing with matches in the attic of Danny’s garage and caught some hay that was stored there on fire.  David was killed in the fire and Danny was badly burned.  That must have been a difficult thing for the teacher to deal with.  It was traumatic enough to me that I remember their names.  I think it is the first time I had to deal with death.   Everytime we drove by Danny’s house I was reminded of this horrible tragedy.

Miss Smith  also gave me my first unsatisfactory grade.  It was in telling a story.  My Mother went to see her about the grade and found out that I had not had my turn yet to tell a story so I was given a “U” on my grade card.  I think Mother took care of that!  I imagine that Mother might have been one of “those kinds of parents” that some teachers fear.  One who made sure her little girl was not treated unfairly!  I do remember the grade because from a very early age grades were terribly important to me.  I was always fearful that I might not “pass” into the next grade, although my grades were always excellent…except for that one “U” in Kindergarten.

My first grade teacher was Miss Laury.  I don’t remember learning anything in first grade…although I am sure I did..but how to eat soup.  Miss Laury supervised our class in lunch room and tried to teach us to dip the spoon away from us when we ate soup.  Apparently we had hot lunches or soup to supplement our lunches from home and she tried to teach us “good” manners.  Dipping the spoon away from you while eating soup was completely foreign to me and I am sure I never really mastered it.  What a thing to remember from all the teaching I am sure I received in first grade!

I don’t remember specifically anything that my second grade teacher Miss Street taught us.  She was absolutely beautiful!  I do remember that our school was integrated and we had a black student who was bigger than anyone else in the class.  Apparently he was a little older than the rest of us and had not “passed” every year.  He was not the only black student in the class, but he is the one I remember from an incident that happened.  He put his arm around me one time and I was scared to death that his color would rub off on me.   My Grandfather had a Negro man who worked with him on the farm and a Negro family who gardened on the shares.  So I had been around black people…from a distance.   I should have known better, but I didn’t.

In third grade my teacher was Miss Mibeck.  She was going to have to quit teaching at the semester because she was going to get married over the Christmas vacation.  I don’t know whether teachers were not allowed to teach if they were married, but none of the teachers who taught at Riley School were married while I attended there.  In third grade I participated in the school talent show.  I played a song on glasses of water.  Each of the glasses..and they were thin glass…was filled with varying amounts of water.  Each glass made a different tone when struck with a small wooden mallet.  The water levels were adjusted so that the C scale could be played.  By striking the glasses in a certain sequence, a melody could be played.  I don’t remember what song I played, but that was my contribution to the talent show.  I was taking piano lessons at the time so it was probably one of the songs from the John Thompson book.

The Principal was Miss Pitts.  I must have been very interested in hair styles at that time because I remember she had black hair which she braided and wore wrapped around her head.  I admired her very much, but didn’t know her very well because I never had an occasion to visit her office. 

Well, so far, these are all happy memories.  This part of my schooling took place while we still lived at Glencliff.  It wasn’t until later that my life changed so drastically.  More of that tomorrow.



  1. I really enjoyed reading about your early school experiences. A memory that I have from the year I was in first grade and you were my teacher is making grass skirts out of trash bags and hula dancing. 🙂

  2. I think it is neat that you still have such vivid memories of your school years and your teachers!

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