I was scared going to a new school – even though my best friend, Susanne, who lived 2 doors down and was 6 years older than I, went there, too, and would be there if I needed her. Yeah, right! Her classes were upstairs and mine were downstairs, and our hours were nothing the same. She started 1/2 hour earlier and stayed 1/2 hour later. Her lunch period wasn’t even the same as mine – so I never saw her!
I was in Miss Loney’s 2nd grade class. The boys sat on one side of the room and the girls on the other. The first day she called our names out. When she called out my name, “Lloyd,” I said, “Here,” and she asked, “What are you doing on the girl’s side of the room?” I stood up and said, “But I AM a girl!!” And that defined my grade school career. I didn’t fit in. I had the wrong kind of name, I had the wrong kind of hair, I had the wrong kind of clothes. Everything. So I just kept my head down and did my work. I made “A’s” and “B’s” in everything that year. Everything was so easy – I had learned it all either before I got into school, or in First Grade under Miss Fluker!
I did not have pigtails, and we did not have inkwells. The boys were mischievous enough to have dipped pigtails in inkwells, but we didn’t have inkwells. We didn’t even sit at desks – we sat at tables.
For all that I didn’t fit in, and at that point didn’t have any friends, I was relatively happy in school. I didn’t dislike my classmates, but I didn’t like most of them, either. I just got along. My favorite subjects were reading and arithmetic. There was also drawing – I enjoyed that. We took a ruler, and marked off every 1 inch on a 9 x 12″ piece of manilla paper (we called it vanilla paper). Then we put our ruler on the first set of marks along the narrow edge. We’d mark off dots every 1 inch. Then we’d mark off dots every inch along the second set of marks. And so on. Pretty soon we’d have a page full of dots all 1″ apart. OK – grid.
Now, we started with the dot that was 1″ in from the top left corner of the page, and drew a line to the dot at the bottom left corner, then to the bottom right corner, then to the top left corner, then to the top right corner, then to the top left corner. Now I had a 1″ margin drawn in! Next, using the dots along the margin lines as my guides, I drew in the grid. Now I had 7 squares in one direction and 10 squares in the other direction.
So then we would turn it so there were 7 squares across, and cut off the bottom so there were 7 squares in the other direction. We would write the name of the month across the top, then number the squares, starting with the correct one for the current month. Now we had a calendar!! We would then write down what we had to do each day – like spelling words. We could decorate our calendars any way we wanted to. Some of the students got very creative, but I could never think of anything to do to mine, so I just left them alone except for drawing the lines in different colors.
Art was not my best subject, although I enjoyed it. As long as someone would tell me what to do, I would follow directions – and not do very well. I absolutely could not – and still cannot – draw. Could not – and still cannot – color well.
Reading, arithmetic, and science – those were “my” subjects.
But we are only talking 2nd grade here –