Saturday, July 5, 2008
Grand Old Flag
8.5" x 11"
Early morning sun blazed through the tall east windows of the homemaking room as the elementary grades and their teachers gathered in the large main room. Tables and sewing machines were moved back, leaving the wooden floor open for activities.
We had already been outside for our daily flag raising ceremony around the flag pole in front of the school. And now it was time for something for just the elementary students in the basement of the school.
The homemaking room was across the hall from first and second grade classrooms. Third grade was just down the hall. Fourth grade was upstairs, and the fifth through eighth grades were in the big study hall on the second floor. Individual classrooms were also there for subjects like Social Studies and English. The third floor was reserved for high school.
We didn't say what grade or level we were in. People only had to ask what floor you were on. "I'm on the second floor!" would explain where you were in school. I often wondered where people went when they had finished all the floors!
Windows in the basement rooms started at ground level and we could see out toward the board fence and shrubs of the football field and the Gougar's farmhouse across the street behind the school. The playground with its metal swings, slide, monkey bars, and see saw, were just to the right near the football field. Two round Coca Cola signs were at each end of a long sign that indicated Wilkerson Field. The tops of the west goal post could be seen above the shrubs.
Children marched by classes into the main homemaking room. Some teachers stood near the doorway that led to the bedroom section of the homemaking department. (The bedroom is also where sick children were put until a parent could come get them. And it was where future homemakers could practice things like making up a bed properly.) Mrs. Sullivan , the homemkaing teacher, was a high school teacher so she went into the dining room area of the homemaking room and busied herself there while the elementary teachers took control of the room.
There was also a raised kitchen area with work stations, each with a little sink and a gas hot plate to complete the homemaking department. A new kitchen stove, given each year by a merchant or the electric or gas company, completed the kitchen, along with a large refrigerator.
We called the whole suite of rooms the homemaking room.
Another pair of teachers remained near the door to the hall, once we had been directed to our places.
I've shown our first grade teacher, Mrs. Koestler, at the piano. I'm not sure if she was the one playing, but, whoever it was, played and sang with gusto.
Each morning, one student was selected to carry an American flag attached to a stick and lead the students as we marched around the room. We may have begun with the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm not sure about that. I know that we did the Pledge at the flag pole.
As we marched around the room, we sang "The Star Spangled Banner"and other patriotic songs. One that stands out, to me is "She's A Grand Old Flag". I didn't really understand the words. Somehow, I thought they were singing about the children's cereal, Pablum! I was much older before I realized that it had to do with the flag.
I guess it was because it hadn't been too long since we were eating breakfast at home. And, my favorite, even when I was older, was Pablum, or, sometimes, Rice Krispies, because of Snap, Crackle and Pop. I was a very picky eater and wanted only cereal, preferably Pablum, fruit, and milk to eat. So maybe I was just thinking about how good that nice, sweet Pablum tasted before school.
After our morning program, the teachers checked to see that we each had a clean handkerchief (Kleenex were rare in those times of rationing during WWII. Maybe they had not been invented yet. People had to wash and iron their handkerchiefs each week. I remember that some people would lay the hankies flat on their kitchen stove or the bathtub to dry flat. They still had to be ironed, though. Ladies had their own dainty hankies, but, if they had a bad cold or sinus trouble, they went to a man's handkerchief, or several, as needed. ) and that our fingernails were clean and our hair had been properly combed at home. Then we marched back to our classrooms and began our day.
As I drew "She's a Grand Old Flag", I was thinking of some of our teachers and some of the students in school. None of them are specific people, but I did think of some of the clothes we wore and how different people wore their hair. And, of course, this is not all the children who were in school. They would have filled the space between the flag bearer and the other children, but I wanted to let the pianist show, along with the sideboard. And, I just got tired of adding children when I was doing the ones in the foreground. I may add a few more who were lined up back toward the door. I was having a lot of trouble seeing this as I drew, and making the lines connect or where I had put a light line and wanted to darken it. Working this small, is just really hard for me, especially the way my eyes are now. I should work larger, but I just had this paper to sketch on when I decided to do the picture.
I find it a bit odd to think of where I started on this picture. First, I did the woman at the piano, making her smaller since the room looked really big to a child. Later, when I started adding children, I started with the two girls in the foreground who appear to be talking. (That would not have happened! We might look at each other, but no talking!) We would not have had such crooked lines, either. We learned early to march correctly, using the lines in the concrete floors to stay lined up. That was good practice for when we got into band later. We still had to march together using the lines even in high school. And no talking!
I still like to hear "She's A Grand Old Flag" and other patriotic songs. And I still think about how good Pablum tasted, when I hear that song.
I don't think they have that same cereal anymore. I bought some for my daughter when she was a baby, and it wasn't the same thing. I think that Malt O Meal is about the closest thing in taste. The texture is different, though.
I finally got to see one patriotic movie on the old movie station last night, after midnight, so I don't think it really qualifies as a Fourth of July program. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was on with James Cagney. But nothing else after it.
I did watch reruns of the concerts in Boston in Washington D.C. I love to watch Craig Ferguson. But I wondered what happened to a big patriotic finale with the fireworks and music. (I didn't care for the musical entertainers, at all. Didn't seem to be very appropriate. Maybe they were, but I just couldn't understand what they were singing.) Craig said goodnight, and the fireworks seemed to still be going. Maybe they had a grand finale, but just ran out of time for tv. I don't know, but it wasn't very satisfying to end that way. The music that they played for the fireworks didn't go along with the Patriotic theme, except for a few snippets that they worked in of songs like "Yankee Doodle".
The Capitol Fourth at least had one patriotic medley, and had that rousing "1812 Overature" that we expect as a finale with fireworks. But, they changed and had a Marine bugle and drum concert after the "Overture". For some reason, I had to turn the tv all the way up in order to hear them, and I realized that it bothered me to not have the piccolos or flutes playing certain parts. Instead, they had mirambas playing the flute parts. I guess I felt that more because I played flute in the band. All I could think of was, "Isn't that odd!" as I whistled the flute part! (I can't blow the flute anymore, or I would have been playing along with them.)
Instead of a big finish, the fireworks were still going when the announcer said that the program would be re-run right after the end. And that was it! So strange.
But, all the thousands of people at those events seemed to be having a really good time.
Some neighbors behind us had some really good fireworks, but I worried , as always, because some of the neighbors' fireworks often end up by my house. It's very dry this year and there is a burn ban. But it has never stopped them before. I didn't notice the ones on the side of us or in front of us, though, having their usual fireworks. And those are the ones that I think always come in my yard. Maybe I was such a kill joy in the past, turning on my lights outside, when they would have fireworks, that they decided to not do it at home this year. Probably went over to the George Bush Library, or some other place to celebrate. Or maybe they just heeded the burn ban this year.
The boys had some poppers, those little things you can throw on the ground and they make a noise like a firecracker. I don't think they even used them though.
There are showers around, but seem to be missing us. We could use a little gentle rain. The grass really came out with a thunderstorm last week. We only got .27 inches of rain, though. Sounded like much more. It was enough to make my house settle more and we couldn't open the front door. Had to get someone to come fix the door, and will have to have them come back to level the house again. They couldn't do it until after the holiday, though. We practically need to start over with this house, or, at least, that's what I think, sometimes. So many things need to be fixed and none of us are very handy that way. It would be nice if things would just need a little paint, as high up as I can reach. I could do that.
Good luck and a speedy recovery to those of you who are facing or recovering from surgery! It's still amazing that they can replace parts like knees and even ankles, and that they can fix so many things like hearts and arteries, and even give shots in eyes.
Now if they could just fix the health care system so that people who need those things could have them done.
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