First Grade,1936

It was early morning, September 1936. I knew I would go to school today; I just did not know which school I would attend! Dad came into the house, after hand milking 12 cows and doing chores, when the phone rang. Mom answered the party line wall phone; it was the neighbor from about a mile away. He wondered if he and my dad could take turns driving us to parochial school in town for the next year and, just like that, I learned I would start first grade (no kindergarten for me) in town, six miles from home. The alternative would have been "country school". I really did not care; either way I was excited. There had been no preliminary registration. I could walk into either school and be accepted!
But, I was ready; dad drove us in the trusty '31 Chevrolet. I wore my new hand sewn dress (made from flour sacks) and my new black oxford shoes. Clutched tightly in my hand was the usual "pencil box" which contained a pencil, an eraser, a 6-inch ruler and a small box of crayons . In my other hand I carried my very first lunch box. Typically, my lunch would consist of a summer sausage sandwich, one of Mom's sugar cookies and an apple from our orchard.
I walked into the first grade classroom, which smelled of books and chalk, and was assigned a seat near the back. We were given an art class folder with many pictures and colors (yes, I still remember it) and we were told to be quiet unless called upon by the teacher. If we had a question or concern, we were to raise our hand. The teacher was a tall, big boned, bossy spinster; her name was Miss Hoffman. It was immediate mutual dislike, so I cried. The class was quite large – most members came from farming families who were struggling following the depression years.
I would estimate the size of that class to be about 18 kids. In comparison, my husband Harold's first grade class at Swede Hill one-room school in 1934 was 2. In addition, his teacher needed to teach all 8 grades, probably a total of 12 boys and girls. I wonder if Miss Hoffman could handle that many grades.
Fortunately, I knew two other first graders – they were my twin cousins, Jane and June. We stayed together on the playground at recess and maintained our friendship throughout the grade school and high school years. Our relationship included a friendly competition which was an incentive to outdo one another. I'm sure that made all three of us better students. Our desks were the usual classroom chair and desk combination. I liked storing the contents of my pencil box inside. I remember the charts above the blackboard with letters, numbers and cursive letters. Miss Hoffman also used flash cards to teach us letters and words. I got one word wrong on our first spelling test, so I cried.
That school building is still standing and looks the same on the outside as it did in 1936. However, the surrounding buildings have either been razed or altered and the street in front of the school has been widened and changed from gravel to pavement. The playground is now a parking lot. Across the street is a McDonald's! How dare they mess with my memories!