MEMORIES OF FIRST SCHOOL YEAR (Written December 6, 2013)
by Susie Belle Seggar
Maple Grove School! I finally was getting to start school. My father had badgered the school personnel the year before to let me begin at age five, but to no avail, so I had waited a whole year because of my January birthday, but now I was six and ready for some new experiences.
My mother had taught me the alphabet, how to count, and had already been teaching piano to me for a year. Because of my developing talent on the piano, my first performance for parents and students was at this one-room school in the country. During that first year, I was allowed to complete both first and second grade, which then put me back into the position of almost always being the youngest in my classes up through high school.
One of my high school boyfriends who was a junior commented it was interesting to choose a senior girl to date, and then find out she was younger than he was.
That first year in the little country school was interesting for me and I will always remember Miss Helen, a young single woman with beautiful blonde hair. She was very kind and patient and had to be very proficient to teach about 14 children ranging from first to eighth grade, all in the same room.
I had two problems that year. Some of the desks in the schoolroom were double seaters, and my first problem was my desk partner, a little first grade boy whose name I can't recall now, 67 years later, although I can still picture his face. I did not like his admiration of me or his desire to show me more of his body than I was interested in seeing.
My second problem came from my lack of coordination, except at the piano. My mother had thought it quite wonderful that she had managed to teach me to walk without first going through the crawling process. She had a “scooter-walker” that I could sit in and scoot myself all around the house.
This was great for keeping me clean, but prevented the development of the kind of coordination needed to play team sports or achieve the skill needed to roller skate or ice skate. The one thing I did manage later in my 30's was a limited ability to ski. I'm also good at darts.
The problem at Maple Grove came when all the students would play “ante over,” with half the students throwing the ball over the roof of the school to the other half on the other side. All I managed was to get hit in the head with the ball coming over. This was a preface to being the last chosen for teams in kick ball and other games. This was an embarrassment to me at the time, but thankfully I received enough recognition in other areas to avoid a blow to my self esteem. I do remember, however, some child calling me chubby--I have never understood that since in my six-year old pictures I look pretty normal.
I did suffer another embarrassment, mainly because I was too shy to speak up at important times. One of these times occurred when I was at the blackboard doing a math problem and very urgently needed to go to the bathroom (which was an outhouse located probably about 100 feet from the school). I waited too long and ended up wetting my pants while I was at the blackboard. The rest of the situation I don't recall, but I'm sure Miss Helen handled it with kindness toward me.
It's so long ago I don't recall names of the other children, but I remember I did have a couple of friends from the school.
My other major memory is of walking home from school, about a mile, mostly by myself. I doubt any child would be allowed to do that in this century, but it seemed to be a kinder, gentler time and I was just a happy first and second grader thrilled to be out in the world at last.