Wednesday, September 01, 2010

50th Anniversary of First Grade and Reading

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of my starting first grade at the Reagan County Elementary School in Big Lake, Texas. Having been to kindergarten (it was not required at the time), I knew my alphabet but I was not really reading yet. I was soon. So I am going to declare this as the 50th anniversary of my learning to read, a skill and pleasure that I appreciate more and more as I age.

I remember the excitement of that first day. One of the first formalities was getting desk assignments. For first graders, our school had two student desks with shelves dividing the space under the desk. If my memory is true, I shared a desk first with Caron Johnson. We were given jumbo size crayons, big pencils, and paper with lines to help us learn to write our letters. I remember also that my cousin Hub was added to the class later in the day. Pete, Mike, and I probably walked home together after school, as we would many days. It was only four short blocks (two east and two south) and hard to get lost in Big Lake.

I wish there were some pictures of that first day. Of course, there were no digital cameras then and my immediate family did not even owned a Brownie Instamatic at the time. I bet many families had no cameras back then, which made school pictures truly valuable. I wish that I knew where my first grade class picture was. My sister found my 3rd grade class picture* among some of her things a few years back. Many of these same students were in both classes. So imagine them two years younger.

I remember we were soon assigned into reading groups and started reading the famous Dick and Jane books. "See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. See Spot run." I liked the books a lot. They were really easy to read. Actually, everything was easy. We wrote our letters, started addition and subtraction, and drew many pictures. The only thing hard for me was staying still during nap time. I always hated lying on a mat on the floor with my eyes closed when there was so much more I could be doing. I would appreciate a daily nap now.

I'm not sure whether my classmates will appreciate me pointing out that it has been so long since we started school, but I wish to celebrate. Thanks to the Reagan County Library which verified the date in the Big Lake Wildcat.

*I think it is third grade because I think the teacher is Mrs. Wade and the kids in back look so old, but then again the kids in front look so young. Maybe that is Mrs. Nun and we are first graders.

By the way, when I showed this picture to a few people at work, no one could pick me out. No beard and my hair is now darker. I am in the front row, second from the right, between Olivia and Carrie, in a cowboy shirt that my mom made. I don't remember the girl second from the left in the front row, but I can name everyone else.

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