Thursday, June 25, 2015

WARDOGS -- Pieces of memories

Roosevelt 6th grade, 1959-60
My world was much smaller then. Fifty classmates who shared teachers, textbooks, pencils, paper, playground games like softball, tag, jump rope, jacks, swings, and teeter-totters, no libraries, very few books, and through this we created memories. 

In fifth grade Miss Garman's class I learned that if I didn't have a pencil I had two choices:  borrow one from friends or the teacher, or bring a nickel and buy one from Mike Westfall, who kept a stash of new pencils in his cigar box.  He was a salesman even then. Jackie Rundell fell in love with me and gave me a tiny yellow plastic clothes pin to put on my blouse collar, to show his love. I was too embarrassed and hid the collar clip in a drawer.  

Remember these:  I love you little,  I love you big,  I love you like a little pig.

In fourth grade I felt out of place and lost in Miss Bloomberg's class.  I didn't know many things that I should by fourth grade and I missed my friends from Lincoln school. Gay Turner sat in my class and even though she was older than the rest of us, she was my neighbor and during that fourth grade year became my friend both at school and at home. Luckily, our neighborhood was filled with kids, so after school we could all play tag, hide-n-go-seek, blind man's bluff, kick the can, or just sit on the sidewalk and play jacks.  
*When you get old and think you're sweet, Take off your shoes and smell your feet.  

I began school in Kansas at a Catholic School where I could enroll in first grade at age five.  I finished my first year in the Catholic school in Miami and met the Burford's and other families from the country club.  My second and third grade years were spent at Lincoln school where there were plenty of playmates in the neighborhood.  Just having the Cantrell's or the "Sixes" as we used to call them, just two houses up filled my day with plenty of fun and excitement.  

*Don't be what you isn't, Just be what you is, Fore if you're what you isn't, You isn't what you is."

I felt grown up in second grade because I could walk to Doc's BBQ or Gene's Tarry-a-While and buy a coke or ice cream as long as Sherri or Judy Cantrell was with me.  My mother sent me, with money, to Doty's grocery store where I could purchase food and return home, feeling proud.  We were even allowed to walk to town and buy a donut or cookie at the baker.  The "old" Ottawa and Miami theaters were at the south end of Main street.  Occasionally, we were allowed to walk to a Saturday matinee without parents. 

*Remember me in the country, Remember me in the town, Remember me as the girl, Who wrote in your book Up-Side-Down.

At last mom and dad bought a home by NEO, and I began fourth grade at the age of eight at Roosevelt.  This was the year my classmates began to learn the times tables, continents, and oceans while I looked out the window and pretended to do the work.   Reading with SRA reading kits was my favorite thing besides penmanship. I never climbed to gold in SRA, but it certainly motivated me to work harder.  One time I reached a color (?) I liked, so I decided to stay in the color until I read them all.  That meant that even when I knew the answer to the short quiz I made sure I missed just enough to stay and read the next story in that color.  When Miss Bloomberg quizzed me on this I explained that I liked the colors and the stories.  

*You are 2 sweet
                2 be
                4 gotten
During fourth grade I met one boy, who admired my artwork, thank you Scotty Haralson.  One other time in Jr. High, when Scotty and I had become friends, I won $2.00 from the Student Council for an essay, and Scotty called me up on stage to give me the award.  I was thrilled and thought perhaps that might be my academy award moment.  ( My friend, Scotty, died last week, but he left me and many of us with memories we will cherish.)

 *Roses are red, Violets are blue, You have a nose like a B-52.

At the end of fourth grade Miss Bloomberg called my mother in for a parent meeting.  I had to sit outside the door, however, I leaned into the door crack and did my best to listen to every word.  The good words were, "Letty is very smart, and she has many talents and abilities. She likes to draw, to color, to write, and she can certainly tell a good story."  But the bad words followed, "She is a baby, very immature.  She doesn't even know her times tables nor her geography.  I want to suggest that we hold her back to repeat fourth grade again.  Then she will be with her neighborhood friends, and the right age group.  She could easily be a leader if she stayed behind just one year."  

* The stork flew North, The stork flew South with Letty in his mouth.  When he found out she was a nut, He dropped her off at the Stapp's hut.

I listened, and she was right. School was really hard for me, and sitting still even harder.  My life was bigger than the school room the minute I left that building.  I had a neighborhood of friends some older and many more younger than I, and we played outside night after night, plus we had Tar Creek to explore and the NEO campus to claim as a playground.  On weekends I spent time at the country club, learning to play golf and meeting people. 

* Roses are red, Violets are blue, Pansies are lovely, just like you. 

The meeting ended, and they found me hiding down the hallway crying. I jumped up and screamed in their faces, "I know I'm a baby, but I'm smart, too. Please don't leave me in fourth grade next year."  Negotiations followed for the next few days.  At last it was agreed by father, mother, teacher, principal, and next year's teacher, Miss Garman, that on the first day of fifth grade I must know certain things, and a test would be given on the first day of school to see if I could pass.  


  1. I had no idea they talked about keeping you behind. That was a traumatic event. Interesting tale. pwm

  2. Letty, I just LOVED these snippets of early school days memories! mm

  3. sssoooooooo, what happened? Ha! U turned out OK.

    I was always the teacher's pet (not a good role for consensus building) and left in charge all the time when the teach left the room with instructions to write the misbehavior's names on the board. Ugly. There were never any names on the board. pmf

  4. Really enjoyed this one. Lots of memories in this story. And I saw my #2 fav teacher Miss Hamilton. Mrs Webb was #1 for me. Thanks rj

  5. Brings back memories for me. I lived on 3rd St. NE in a 2 story pink house. Both of my half brothers went to Roosevelt. Mike Coleman who would be 63 if he was still with us and Tommy Robertson who is 67. I went to Lincoln from 1-3rd grade and we moved to Vinita. I have been to Gene's, Doc's and Doty's many, many times. We lived at 419 S. Main, a parking lot now.

    Thanks for the memories.jr

  6. Letty...Loved your reminiscing of grade school days. I loved every day of going to Washington Grade School for kindergarten and first grade and second through fifth at Jefferson Grade School (Escanaba, Michigan). Guess that's why I always wanted to be a teacher. I thought of being a librarian as I was asked to help check out books with a stamp at the end of the pencil. But after much contemplating....decided on becoming a teacher as I loved writing on the chalk board and helping the teacher clap the erasers outside the classroom.
    I loved your sayings.....I still treasure my autograph book from junior high school at Madison West......and have some of the very same verses.
    "O U Q T I N V U" was one of my favorite.

    Love Ya! jf

  7. What interesting memories. We moved around so much when I was young and I really don't remember any of he names of my teachers and other students. You have a great memory. nv