Due to writer’s block, I have lacked at blogging. I recently asked my Facebook friends for ideas in hopes that one or more of them would bring about something I felt would be interesting to readers. My Facebook friend, Marcia, offered a neat suggestion: My favorite elementary school memories. More specific, my Carlson memories. This fits into what I have said many times about this blog – it’s kind of like my autobiography in small chapters. I am writing this blog without any preparation, so I apologize for what may be a mixed bag of silly stories that only those involved would get.
I started the school year (in second grade) in Sterling Heights. I remember the summer of 1976 because the country was celebrating the Bicentennial and there was an amazing sense of patriotism throughout the country. I remember my dad hanging the flag off the porch and explaining what it stood for and how we should always respect it. Somewhere between summer and winter, I was told that I was moving to a new house. The first thing I remember was that my folks told me there was a kid who was my age living right next door.
Welcome To Carlson
Mrs. Edith was the secretary. She was a nice lady who asked me and my dad to wait while Mr. Jacobson did the announcements. At the end of the announcements, I said the Pledge of Allegiance there in the office, cause everyone else was. I remember Mr. Jacobson was a nice man who walked me down to my new classroom and assured me that everything was going to be ok.
While I don’t remember too much about Mrs. Cook (2nd Grade), I do remember she was a sweet elderly woman who sensed how scared I was when I walked into her classroom for the first time. She walked me to the front of the class and told me to introduce myself. I remember babbling my name and probably some other gibberish that no one could understand and found my seat.
My first memory was reading at a back table with Dan T. I don’t know if we were ahead of people in reading or behind to be honest. I remember the name of the textbook was Rewards. I think it had some sort of hound dog on the cover. Not sure why I remember that. I remember that Leo, the boy from next door, was also in my class. The core members of the class remained together throughout the remaining years at Carlson.
Our 3rd Grade teacher was Mrs. Julian. She was a heavier woman, and she knew how to keep the class in line. If you got in trouble, you were often forced to get a big bear hug from her.
4th Grade was spent with Mrs. Gallop. She was fun. I remember she made us laugh a lot and introduced us to the book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. She also read us James and the Giant Peach and I remember there was a swear word in it. I remember she told everyone that there was a swear word in it. We still all gasped and laughed when we heard her read it.
5th Grade we had Mrs. Weinert. I remember liking her. I guess I was pretty good at English, because I somehow ended up on some Quiz Kids thing. I want to say it was called the Academic Olympics. We had a team of three of us who competed in this event where they asked a bunch of English questions. I remember staying after school and talking about nouns, verbs, sentence structure, and such. I don’t remember if we won or not.
In 6th Grade, Mrs. Zola was our teacher. She was probably the oldest of all my elementary teachers. She always made us say good morning in unison to her, to which she would reply, “Good morning, good morning”. When we were unruly and talking loudly, she’d say something like “What is this!?” (those who had her just read that in her voice!) She seemed to constantly be blowing her nose and always had a tissue or handkerchief rolled up in her sleeve.
To prepare us for Jr. High, they had us switch teachers for a bit every day and Mr. Beger came in and taught us math. He didn’t put up with the crap that seemed to get by Mrs. Zola. I don’t remember who it was, but some classmate mouthed off to him and I remember Mr. Beger grabbing the kid by the collar and walking him to the office.
Various other memories
One thing I will never forget is the huge paper mache’ silver knight in the lobby. That was our mascot. A Carlson Knight does what’s right!
I remember doing these reader cards. There were boxes of them in the class room and they were color coded. Each reading level had a different color box with stories on cards. You read the cards and took a test on the cards. I remember that’s how I found out who Jesse Owens and Arthur Ashe were.
I remember reading Dynomite magazine. We all ordered it from the book club. it often had TV stars on the cover and stories about the shows they were on. Featured on covers I remember, John Travolta, Boss Hogg, Jimmy JJ Walker, and The Fonz.
Another thing I remember reading was this Scholastic News magazine. It was often filled with stories and plays. I remember that one of the plays we read was Somewhere in Time (the Christopher Reeve movie). I was the lead role and I remember at one point in the script he kisses the main female character. I never even kissed the gal reading the female lead, but I was still embarrassed!
Speaking of plays, we put on musicals – real musicals – every year! When I was in 4th grade, Darcia was Annie. I remember hating the play because there were orphans in it. I hated the thought that kids had no parents. Darcia was awesome in the role. The year after that we did a play about Thomas Edison called The Electric Sunshine Man. We were all in costume for the play and they took class pictures that day. Funny to look at that class picture today.
In sixth grade, we did a musical called The Runaway Snowman. I played the lead for the evening show. I remember having to sing a solo. I remember Frank played Freddie Fasttalk and was perfect in that role. I remember thinking he was the perfect villain. It was a fun play and I have embarrassing pictures of me dressed as the snowman. They don’t really do musicals like that today. Everything is all prerecorded. Our music teacher actually played piano to all the tunes we sang with.
Recess was a special thing to elementary kids! It was so special that if a teacher wanted your full cooperation, they would put the word up on the chalk board (long before white boards and dry erase markers) and erase a letter every time you did something wrong. When the last letter was erased – no recess!
Lunch recess was always fun cause everyone was outside. All the grades were out. Mrs. Royer and Virginia were the lunch mothers. I probably bothered the hell out of them. I guess I figured if I was by them, I wouldn’t get beat up. LOL! Virginia was Ed’s sister. Ed was in my class and we both kind looked alike. I always kinda thought he was like a twin brother. I remember he was a big senator or something in the Edison play and had to say the word “filibuster”. The word made me laugh every time – and the audience laughed at it too!
Ed and I worked for Mr. Steve, the custodian. We helped sweep the gym after lunch. We cleaned tables and swept. We also got to nab a left over burger, or Mexican pizza if there was one left. Sometimes we’d be in the back washing the trays, too. Those were fun times too!
I remember so many summers all of us played ball out on the baseball diamonds there. We would be there all day! Kids would come and go as needed, but for the most part, it was a non-stop ball game. Kids of all ages played! We spent birthday money on new gloves, baseballs, baseball bats, and those cheap rubber bases. Man, those were good times!
I remember going over to Bill’s house a lot. His dad was some sort of engineer or something and had all of these crazy gadgets in the basement. We were always playing with them. They looked like something right out of Doc Brown’s laboratory. He had Intellivision and we always played the baseball game on that thing. Yeah, our video games were crude and cheap looking, but we loved them!
One of the best Carlson stories is one that I have told many times before. In second grade, I was the new kid and Friday was pizza day. My dad used to let me buy lunch on Fridays – not that I got to enjoy it. Every Friday, Jeff would come over and say “Give me your pizza, or I’ll beat you up after school”. Me, being a wimp, gave up the pizza. After a few months, my dad gave me the money for lunch and I begged to have him send me with a bagged lunch. He wanted to know why. I explained what was going on and he told me to tell Jeff that it was my pizza and he couldn’t have it. When lunch time came, I was sweating and scared to death. He came up, gave me his standard demand and I looked up and said, “My dad said that it is my pizza. I paid for it and you can’t have it”. I awaited a punch in the nose, but instead, he said, “That’s cool” and sat down next to me. We’ve been friends ever since!!
I don’t know why I remember this kid. He was only in our class one year. He came from Florida and his name was Richard King. He always seemed to be in trouble. He would call to other classmates for answers and was disruptive. I remember Mrs. Zola said that if he didn’t behave, she’d send him back to Florida. He went into some rant about how he wasn’t Richard King, he was King Richard! He wasn’t going to Florida – she was going to Florida” and on and on it went. To this day, I don’t know what happened to him. He came and went.
Wearing the Orange Belt
One of the things I remember most about elementary school was being a member of the Safety Patrol. I remember my corner was right by the school. I remember how much I loved doing it. In sixth grade I tried to be Captain, but lost to Scott Brooks. I was ok with that, because Scott and I were friends.
One time I remember standing on my corner and I saw this blue car with a man in it. He seemed to be just waiting. I had never seen the car before. Come to find out, he followed some kids and tried to pick them up further down the road. I remember being called to the office and having to give a description of him and the car. That freaked me out! Thank God he didn’t succeed in getting that kid into his car! I hope they caught him – sicko!
This blog now comes full circle. Marcia, who suggested I write it, is someone who I actually met because I was her safety. I stood at that corner every morning and evening waiting to make sure that they got across the street safely. Marcia, Jackie, Joey, and a few others. Marcia always had the biggest smile and on the last day of sixth grade, I snapped a picture of her before I moved up to Jr. High. I found that picture within the past few years and sent it to her. It was a simple moment in time that was captured by a cheap camera of a friend, who years later, made me smile as I sat here remembering some of the good times I had as a Carlson Knight. Thanks, Marcia!
What memories did I forget, Carlson Knights??