Recently while going through boxes of old photo's I "borrowed" from my Mom I realized there is not a single picture to document the auspicious occasion of my first day at school!
I did find a photo dated August of that year, so this is about as close to how I looked that day so many years ago. My memory is being to default to the legends. The details are blurring around the edges, beginning to fade if remembered at all. But that day remains intact mainly because I was traumatized.
My Mom sent me off on the first day of school with great fanfare, it not documented with still photo's, but saved for all mankind on 8mm film. I was the first of her children to leave the nest. I'm certain my three brothers cried (the baby held in one arm, the camera in the other) as I ventured off into the world to find my fortune! I'm certain they would miss me,just like the next year when the Irish Twins were busted up and the youngest T. was asked how he was going to deal with N. going off to school, "I'm going to be crushed to pieces" he replied.
I climbed on the school bus and headed for parochial school in the small town of Mayberry. It is highly unusual that Catholic kids are allowed to ride the school bus and have that bus actually deliver and pick us up, but it was argued that parents of the Catholic kids paid school taxes like everyone else so their kids were entitled to ride the buses along with the heathens. (I am going to have to get my hands on that film because Joe lived at the other end of the street and rode the same school bus, driven by the beloved Shorty Nichols, who also lived on our street. I would love to see if Joe was part of that motley crew that ascended the bus and rode towards our destinies. Joe was a cry baby and I picture him clinging to his mothers skirt and resisting entry into the world! Maybe he put on a brave face and climbed those enormous steps up into seething withering screaming all grades smashed together, three to a seat, Bus #33, under his brothers wing...)
I was dropped off in front of St. L. school, which was a Victorian two story house that was both a school and a convent for the nuns. Back in those days, there were only two school rooms. Grades 1 - 5 in one room (grade five had only three students) and the rest in a smaller one room building that was detached from the main house.
I'm certain I must have had a clue when I was the only kid stepping off the bus. The next clue must have been the lack of any other children on the school grounds!
Was I early? Was I late?
I was very early, by one day. The nun(s)(?) took me to the room that would be my home away from home (the same room I was sitting in when the Principal threw open the door on Nov. 22, 1963 with news). I helped to wash down blackboards and given the task to take the erasers outside and bang them together as the chalk dust whirled around me and got up my nose.
I distinctly remember thinking (a little schemer even way back then!) that I should be teachers pet due to the circumstances. The bonding that occurred before any of my other baby boomer classmates arrived. I was the star! I was the one who knew how to slam those erasers together with great enthusiasm.
No doubt they called my Mother and Hipped Her to the fact that so anxious to get one child out the door (and educated surrounded by holy Catholic nuns, no doubt) that she had sent me too early.
And my mother, surrounded by her brood of young pre-schooler's and a baby, told them to have me walk home.
So down Broadway and up Highland Ave and down Ashmore, up Cleveland and cut through the back yard of our neighbors the Fredericks, and avoiding their dog, who was tethered up next to the drain ditch behind our house in her dog house, and through the back yard up to the back door and TA DA ! I was home from my first day at school!