I remember feeling nervous when my parents took me to meet my first grade teacher Miss Frances Dekle on the first day of school at Sallas Mahone Elementary School on Patterson Street in Valdosta, Georgia. (It was torn down and rebuilt in a new location in recent years.) The hallway was full of students and parents. My brother Andy went with us. He seemed to be having a grand time and ran out of the classroom with a ball as my dad called after him. I felt embarrassed when my dad asked me to go up to the chalkboard and write my name so he could take a photo. I'm sure that brought on a pout from me.
I was five years old when I started school in 1960. At the time, you could start school as long as you turned six by December 31, and my birthday is in October. I liked my teacher Miss Dekle. I remember reading circles and Dick, Jane, and Spot; eating the paste during art; running around the playground and swinging on the swings at recess; and trying to erase a mistake on my paper with those big, fat pencils that had no eraser at the end. We sat in small wood chairs at long tables that held several students. At least they seemed long to my five-year-old self. Each student had a cubby to hold our paper, pencils, and books underneath the table where we sat. There was a bathroom connected to the classroom. I made one of my friends cry when I wrote on her paper while she was in her reading circle. I barely remember the lunchroom. I've always hated school lunches. The smell! I was a picky eater, so I probably didn't eat much during lunch. Plus, I was used to home cooked meals at lunch time. My mother picked me up from school every day. I don't remember if she had her first station wagon then, but I know she had it by the time I was in second grade. Our family was growing quickly. There were three of us kids, and my sister Melissa was born a few months after I started school.
I have mostly good memories of first grade--the few that I do have about it!