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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

School Dazed...And Confused

Our art teacher created this mural in the early 60s
Kemp Elementary School
Dayton, Ohio

The "older section" of the school

Uh huh, me, in the 1st grade. I have seen a few "end of school" lists floating around blog land of late. I know that our Cheryl has a cute one and our Terri added it to her blog as well. School memories can be both terribly sweet or oh so bitter. We all saw our share of both I am sure. I was one of the lucky ones I guess. I loved my elementary school and went there for 9 years, K-8th grade. I met many of my dearest life long best friends while there and am still good, no, great buddies with so many who shared those days with me. I have mostly blissful, fond memories but there are always some that make me cringe just a wee bit to think about.

A hallway in the old section...the door to the left was my Mother's room.

All in all, I enjoyed my years at Kemp. It was truly a "neighborhood" school in every sense of the word. We all walked to school, and most of us walked home again at lunch time. Returned to school an hour later and then, walked home at 3pm.

There was a tiny lunch room for those who packed and stayed. I thought that so wonderful and was thrilled when my mother had lunch room duty so I could stay with her. How else to use my pink Barbie lunch box?

My mother taught 3rd grade at Kemp from the time I was in 3rd grade until I left after 8th grade graduation. I have no sour memories of sharing the school with her. I knew that Mom would not rush to help me if I did anything wrong, but then, I *was* a Pollyanna (Yes dear Dawn! There is THAT reference again!) in school! I was a good student and loved my teachers.

Pollyanna...that is Haley Mills, not me. Um...

I was not *the* smartest or brightest but I did well. I loved school.

I loved all my teachers but yes, there were some that were definitely "old school" in the building. I was lucky enough NOT to have them for class. Whew. Considering that I attended this school from 1961-1970, when I say *OLD school*, I MEAN *OLD school*!

The principal walked the halls and instilled fear in our hearts. Even in those of us who were painfully good. But, for every scary principal and hard driving gym teacher (and being forced to take showers in a very musty smelling, basement locker room), there was a sweet and caring art teacher or custodian (I will never forget you Harry!). All the teachers I was privileged to have

Yup, THE musty smelling showers...

while there were special. I know I was lucky and I will forever be grateful.

Now, to make you even more ill, I have to tell you I was also a cheerleader. Could you gag now? I cheered in the 7th and 8th grade for the basketball team. BOYS basketball. Don't even ask if there was a girl's team!

I remember the Christmas parties & the Halloween parties where we dressed up in costume and paraded through the classrooms of the older children. The Valentine's Day parties and those artfully designed shoe boxes. End of the year Field Day activities and the yearly carnival. Throwing ping pong balls to win a goldfish.
I remember learning to read with Dick, Jane, Sally and Flip the Dog. Oh yes, Puff the cat too.
Getting our desk all neat and pretty for Open House/Parent night.
The 7th and 8th grade dances, new dresses and beauty shop hair. A popular radio station's DJ emceed. We thought we were very "uptown"!
Sitting in the gymnasium/auditorium watching the first space shots on a wheeled in, grainy 15 inch television ...and being thrilled, awe struck. We watched Alan Shepherd, Scott Carpenter, Gus Grissom and mates rocket out of our atmosphere, John Glenn make his historic orbit, Jim Lovell and crew almost get "Lost in Space".
The gymnasium/auditorium
We had once a month "after lunch" movies in the gym. For a dime, we could watch "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucy Ball and Desi Arnaz or one of Jerry Lewis' comedies.
Show and Tell Fridays
Lining up at school for the polio vaccine
Roller skating parties...
The Yearly field trips to Aullwood Farm, the Planetarium and Nature Center
Jumping rope on the playground and noticing that our teachers were crying. The President had been shot. JF Kennedy was dead.
Robert Kennedy was dead.
Martin Luther King was dead.
The Vietnam War raged on....the Manson murders, riots....
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Simon and Garfunkel, Woodstock and Laugh In.
Watching Bonanza, Walter Cronkite and Captain Kangaroo.

All of the school photos were taken during an open house last May. I attended 2 of these open house events with friends who all shared my years at the school. We wanted to see it one more time....last Summer, our old school was torn down. I have a brick from the *newer* building and my Mother has one from the old. The playground and building are now just flattened concrete, weedy and barren. The city says it will rebuild a new facility but with the recent levy failures and the trouble that the Dayton Schools face, I have doubts that will happen.
But Kemp will live on in memories and in our hearts. It was a school that helped shape a generation of young people...it was an era that did the same.

17 comments:

LisaOceandreamer said...

What a great trip down your memory lane!! ok, you've stirred up all sorts of memories for me. I loved my elementary school, most of the teachers and many of the kids I attended with I went all the way through junior high and high school with as well. It is still there and looks exactly the same as all those years ago.
There is nothing wrong with being Pollyanna...she gets a bad rap! :)
XOXO

TK Angels said...

I love the pics!! I don't have any pictures from Orville Wright. It would have been nice. Love your pig tails *smile*

Take care,
Love,
Terri

Naturegirl said...

This post was as though I attended your school renunion with you!How nice it was for you to have sweet memories!My memories are the bitter sweet ones much going on in our young lives.How nice to know that your mom was alsways there just in case!Oh those floors look like you could skate on them! hugs NG

gold said...

What a sweet childhood you had.Wow a cheerleader.When I was in school I was so shy.

Jen said...

Rah rah rah!!

Your 1st grade picture is so pretty!!

Betty Jo said...

OMGosh I've so enjoyed this post Sue! It brought back such fond, and some not so fond, memories of my own school days. It's sad to think of this building with all the memories torn down and barren. So glad you got to visit one last time and have these photos. The photos of you are precious. I'm still drolling over your lemon tea post and baked lemon bread yesterday to satisfy the craving inspired by it. Also mentioned your blog on mine today as the inspiration for my bread post. xoxo

jafabrit said...

What a trip :)
My high school is now a technical college. It didn't really look that much different from yours, although it is in London.

Deborah said...

I loved the cup of tea and the cat and dog, could I come again soon for some more tea and a chat. love always me

Sheila said...

Happy School days. I think mine were better than I thought at the time. It was lovely to go back in time with you, and some of those events jogged my memory too.
I left school in 1964, eons ago..!

Sugar Bear said...

Wow, you made me start to think about elementary school. There were some bad times but mostly good. Now as luck would have it, I live right around the corner from my old school!
Karla

"Early Bird" said...

Have I ever told you how much I love reading your posts??
This was another awesome one my friend...it brought back so many memories for me!!
I loved my 3rd grade teacher who after recess would have us lay our heads down on our desks while she would read a chapter of Little House on the Prairie books...
:)

Dawn Bibbs said...

Oh, those school days. How I DON'T long to go back to them! Ok, ok, it wasn't that bad.

There's my girl, Pollyanna again...gotta love it. I love her "the glass is half full" outlook on life. I tell people that all the time. Hmmm, I may need to see if I can locate that movie. Although my hubby would probably kill me if he ever saw it in this house :-). I think my Jayla would enjoy it...I'm gonna look for it :-).

Time for bed. Enjoy your weekend!!!

Pamela said...

1961 Alan Shephard .. first man in space. I watched it before I went to school. Well, there wasn't much to see... but we had an old black & white TV and we sat in front of it.

Same thing with JFK's Funeral. School was canceled and we sat at home and watched the coverage.

I remember so many of the things you do. I remember I hated the paste my mom bought me when all the cool kids had Elmer's Glue.

Gretchen said...

What lovely memories (and pictures) you have of your elem/middle school, Susie. I'm sure you were a light in the classroom, as much as you are in the blogosphere. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Sheila said...

That is so nice that you have pictures of your old school! The only ones I have are in my mind. We have many of the same memories from that time period of the 60's. It was fun reading that!!
But unlike you, I didn't like school.

Rick said...

Thanks for the pictures of and comments concerning Kemp. My brothers, sisters and I attended there from 68-72. It was a magical time for me as well. I just discovered the house we lived in during that time, on Suman Ave, is now for sale. The posted pictures of the interior, which I hadn't been in since 72, caused a rush of emotions like I haven't felt in some time.

Rick said...

Thanks for the pictures of and comments concerning Kemp. My brothers, sisters and I attended there from 68-72. It was a magical time for me as well. I just discovered the house we lived in during that time, on Suman Ave, is now for sale. The posted pictures of the interior, which I hadn't been in since 72, caused a rush of emotions like I haven't felt in some time.