Monday, February 20, 2012
Miss Emma’s Kindergarten
I began Stevens School kindergarten in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1959 just before I turned five. My teacher was Mrs. Stevens, but we called her Miss Emma. Miss Emma’s mother “Miss Esther” was helping her out at the time. The kindergarten was in the back of Miss Emma’s house on Oak Street, across from Valdosta State University. I loved going there. I learned the usual things back then—the alphabet, how to count, and how to write my name. I remember writing my name in the paper above and putting the stickers on it. (I apparently have always had a thing for butterflies. They’ve tended to crop up every now and then as a motif throughout my life.) I remember writing the “C” backwards and being sent back to the table to correct it.
We learned songs, had art instruction, and went on field trips. One field trip that I distinctly remember was to the Sunbeam Bakery in Thomasville, Georgia, because I had to ride all the way back to Valdosta with a pack of cinnamon buns sitting on my lap and try not to eat them. It was torture. I knew I would be in big trouble with my mother if I ate them. We were getting back to town just before noon which was when kindergarten was over, and this was lunch time at our house. I don’t remember when I finally got to eat them.
Above is my kindergarten class. Miss Emma is on the left holding her son Mark, and Miss Esther is on the right. I’m in the second row from the back, third kid from the right. I look like I’m talking! I went all through school with most of these students.
I remember that Miss Emma had some rabbits in a cage on the playground, and she would let us play with them sometimes. I remember kids being everywhere! When one of my front baby teeth fell out, I learned how to spit water out of the space that was left like the boys were doing. What an accomplishment!
For a paint smock for art, my mom took one of my dad’s shirts, cut most of the length of the sleeves off, and sewed an applique on the back to look like me! The girl in the applique is even wearing a dress made out of the same fabric of a dress that my mom made for me. As you can see, I still have this shirt. It barely fits me now. My dad was thin way back then. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself.
I really enjoyed kindergarten as far as I can remember. I only have good memories of it, and I really liked Miss Emma and Miss Esther. Then it was off to first grade in Miss Dekle’s class at Sallas Mahone Elementary that used to be on Patterson Street but has since been torn down.
P.S. I just discovered a Facebook page called “I Was One of Miss Emma’s Kindergarten Students.” There are only two members at the moment. It will be three if they approve me. If anyone that went to kindergarten there (or even if you didn’t) would like to join the group, click the title above. Here’s a Valdosta Daily Times article from 2011 about Miss Emma. She did more than teach kindergarten.