Monday, August 25, 2008
Back To School 08
8.5" x 11"
Today was the first day of school here. Ashton, our young student, started his year as a 5th grader. I guess he is growing up. He didn't even give "Grandma" a kiss at the door, or wake me up to say "Goodbye" at the door this year. In fact, his mother took him to Shipley's for kolaches (actually a pig in a blanket, I guess, since he likes the ones with sausage and cheese), which meant that I didn't have to cook breakfast for him. In the past, we have always sat down to talk a little, calmly, and have breakfast while he woke up, and, often, we even watched "Spongebob" together. Just to get some "gasoline for his engine", help him wake up, and not be so anxious about the day. He doesn't like to eat first thing in the morning, like me, but I thought that he needs to get off on a good start each day. It won't be long before he will be making his own food and not needing Grandma or his mother so much.
But, he has excellent teachers, a really good school, and we're looking forward to a great year. His last at that school. I told him, when he complains about "little kids", that he was once a little kid, and now he is like a senior. He is one that the younger ones look up to. And they will do some great things this year, with a camping trip at the end of the year.
The picture today is a drawing I did of the big study hall upstairs on third floor in Calvert High School. The one for the high school that also served as the library at one end. There was another study hall on the second floor for 5th through 8th grades, also with a small library at one end.
We didn't have a lot of technology in those days. Typing was learned on 1920s typewriters that you had to use a lot of force on the keys to make them print a letter. We had some movies in the auditorium, occasionally. The teachers had a mimeograph machine that used a fluid that had a smell to it like cleaning fluid from the dry cleaners. The stencils made everything turn out purple. But, with rationing, we didn't use a lot of school supplied paper. We had our own notebook paper or tablets in lower grades, and used those until they were full. We had a few printed workbooks and, in lower grades, we got the "Weekly Reader" and, for Texas History, we had a "comic book" style of book.
In the scene above, we had been marched from the lower floor to the high school study hall on third floor. Students were seated at the desks, and we crowded into assigned places. The teachers lined up at the front of the room, and a few remained at the back and by the doors to monitor and prevent any unacceptable behavior. We didn't know why we were taken there. We just marched to and from wherever the teachers took us.
The whole school was there. A wooden radio had been plugged into an overhead light socket and placed on a podium in front by the teachers. We were shushed, even though no one was making noise, and told to listen to the radio.
This happened several times as historic events occured. One particular time that I remember was when we heard General Douglas MacArthur's farewell speech. Everyone was very solumn as they listened. I didn't remember a lot of his speech, but I did remember the part about "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away."
After the speech, there was no explanation, critique, or discussion. The radio was turned off and unplugged, and we were marched back downstairs to our study hall. And I wondered why we were taken out of our rooms to hear that speech. It was years later that I realized that we were witnessing history.
I can't recall the other occasions. I think one might have been when MacArthur announced "I shall return". Possibly we also heard a broacast of the signing of the Japanese surrender, a speech by Harry Truman concerning dropping of the atomic bomb, and other events.
I do know that someone had to bring their radio from home so that we could listen to the broadcast. We didn't have such fancy equipment at school. Of course, there was the PA system for the school , and for announcing football games. We could hear that all the way to my house and through most of the town!
For the events at school, some community members who were not busy with their stores or businesses, would come to see the movies and listen to radio broadcasts. Ladies would dress up in their suits, wearing hats and gloves, and dress shoes, to come to school. Those included, especially, ladies who were active with the PTA .
The people I have shown in my drawing, have hints of actual people and some of their mannerisms. A lady dressed up in her suit, with her hat and the veil with those little fuzzy balls on it; men in their suits; one teacher who wore a built up shoe and touched her braided hair frequently; a tall thin teacher; one who often wore dresses with a sweetheart neckline; another who sometimes wore flowing dresses.
Seated at the desks, one student has pigtails flowing over the back of her seat and onto the desk of a boy behind her. If we had actually used the ink wells, she probably would have had her pigtails dunked into a bottle of ink. Our ink wells were not used, but we did have a bottle of ink inside the desk. The shapes of the bottles had changed and wouldn't fit into the ink wells any longer. One girl has braids, wrapped around on the side of her head. Another girl has a fluffy hairdo, achieved with pin curls around the head with the top of the hair left straight. Pleated plaid skirts, penny loafers, saddle shoes, sweaters, white blouses, , dimestore pearls, cirlcle skirts were all part of the style of the day. For the boys, there were slacks or jeans, cotton shirts that had to be ironed, and belts, and some even wore a dress shirt with a tie and a sweater.
Remembering those speeches in the study hall is appropriate for today, with school starting, and with so many speeches coming up during the Democratic and Republican conventions, with many more to come in between. I wonder if students in school, today, will be allowed to watch the speeches. Maybe in a government or journalism class in high school, in some schools. I always thought that my students should see things on tv that were occuring, just as we had listened to those few speeches on the radio when I was in school. That's a big part of our education.
I always wanted to watch everything on tv, read about it in newspapers and magazines. I would prefer being there to see for myself. But, this time, I don't think that I can bear to watch the Democratic convention. I may watch the opening, and I would like to see if they do actually have a roll call vote, and how Hillary does. But I just can't endure any of the speakers, and it is really sad to see what has become of the Democratic party. And the amount of money that is being thrown away is just appalling.
I'm not trying to get "political", but that's the way I see it, through my eyes.
Have a great year, teachers, students, and parents! Administrators too!
Check out the Frame Gallery website for some information about upcoming classes and events there and in downtown Bryan. The workshop using Yupo looks particularly interesting to me.
Register for the 20th World Wide Sketch Crawl, scheduled for October 25. You can click on the logo in my sidebar and that will take you to their website. If you are in this area, I hope that you will join in.
Go to the Forum to find someone in your area, or you can register and put in an area of your own. You will see more information on their website about how to participate.
I'm still in hopes that we can Draw The Brazos Valley, with people working all over this area on that day. If you are interested, let me know.