Friday, February 03, 2006

I Am From (LUES)

I am From
(Loleta Union Elementary School)

I am from the LUES Class of 1964, a class of thirty-six, the largest to-date graduating class. From six honor students, Kathee, Renee, Susan, Greg, Sham, and Bill. From my graduation speech "Get that All Important High School Diploma".

From an era when the school mascot was the Beaver (in green and white) and not the current Cougar (in maroon and white).

I am from my teachers. From Mrs. Eva Stahl, who made the class stay in at recess one day because I wouldn’t confess that I was the one who had thrown my uneaten egg salad sandwich under the lunch table.

From Mrs. Loretta Snyder, who I don’t remember much about, except that she was a warm and loving teacher.

From Mrs. Jean Bennett, who I only had for about 2 weeks in 3rd grade before I was "skipped" a grade level.

From Mrs. Mildred Gregg, who was very stern and would rap you across the knuckles with a ruler if you misbehaved.

From Mrs. Esther Carr, who I had for both fifth and sixth grades. (She and her husband--his name was Tom, I found out years later--took a trip to Hawaii just after it became a state. Back than he was the very skinny quiet Mr. Carr, married to a very large and loud woman, but it seemed to work for them. Their Hawaii trip was the inspiration for her every-other-year annual Hawaiian Luau. Mothers would be assigned dishes to bring--I still have Mom’s copy of sukiyaki and rice pilaf somewhere--and girls would learn the hula).

From Mr. Floyd Mauney (AKA "Four Fingers") who, after I was out of his class, suffered a heart attack on a hike with his wife, Mrs. Bonita Mauney and died. Mrs. Mauney later married "Red" Mc Marin, the bus driver and custodian.

From Mr. James Cochrane in 8th grade, who was also our principal and attended our church. He had a heart attack that year (which he survived and later went on to teach in a Lima, Peru missionary kid’s school) and was replaced by Mr. Robert Riffenburg, whose wife would later be my high school home economics teacher.

From Mr. Swerdlow for speech, a place where I went to try to pronounce my "J’s" correctly, so I could say I was Susie James, and not Susie Games. From band leaders Mr. Madelena and then Mrs. Swackhammer.

I am from the ChatterBox (especially song dedications back and forth from me and Linda--"Big Girls Don't Cry". From the "Did You Know" column, where I was featured one week ("Did you know Susan James always has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch?" From the time they passed out the newspaper and then frantically picked them back up again. When they were redistributed, Karl Erickson's answer to "What would you do to make the US a better place?" had been blacked out. (answer "Get rid of the President"--this was on Friday, Nov 22, 1963, the day John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated).

I am from the Tidepools, the every-other-year field trip for the 7th and 8th graders to an orchard in Petrolia . From breaking into groups of four (me, Renee, Kathee, and Terri). From the skits around the Friday night campfire (ours was miming and dancing to "Going to the Chapel of Love"). From pllanning your meals (Kathee and Terri, the Catholics, "Oh that's OK, we can have bacon for breakfast Friday morning, we'll just go to confession when we get home"). From bringing your tidepool treasures back to camp (can you believe they used to let you pick that stuff up and take it out of the natural environment?). From boiling the sea urchins over the campfile until the needles fell off. From using the latrine the fathers would dig for us, from Mom laying in traction in the back of the little trailer. From Carolyn Jones (one of the older and wiser 8th graders) making sure you were packing Kotex. Of course I didn't need them yet, but Terri Thompson said "That's OK, I'll bring mine." Show off! From the big orchard where we set up our tents, girls on one side, boys on the other, and probably the chaperones in the middle!

I am from playing last string basketball, and only playing a couple of minutes each game (because back then it wasn’t about winning or losing, but how you played the game), but Mom was always there to do (more than) her share of carpooling.

I am from teachers breathing a sigh of relief when one of us entered their classroom, because they now had Mom, who volunteered for anything and everything. From car pooling to class room parties, when she would make sugar cookies in heart shapes, and lovingly frost each one with white frosting and inscribe each person's name on one in bright pink frosting. From a mother who brought extra cookies and would personalize them at the last minute, for preschoolers who attended their siblings parties. From her sugar eggs at Easter, from countless Valentine's Days and Halloween and Christmas parties.

I am from mini milk cartons, from Tuesday Bank Days, from Scholastic book orders and SRA reading cards. From band concerts and graduation at the Fireman's Pavillion. From Safety Commissioners and crosswalk duties. From flagpole raisings, and stop signs on long poles. From one long whistle blast for stop, two short blasts for go.

I am from a place where your friends stopped by your house in the morning, to "walk" you to school. From Ray who had a knack for always finding the hair brush, usually stuffed down couch cushions. From the seemingly insurmountable hill you had to climb to get to the schoolyard. From crosswalks and safety patrol officers, from whistles (one long whistle to go, two short blasts to stop) and stop signs.

I am from a place of infinite memories. From a safe haven of learning and growing, a place that would spawn (due to Mom's frequent lunchtime absences due to carpooling duties) Dad’s display of displeasure, written in red sharpie marker on the hallwall sheetrock of the little house where we all grew up – "This haphazard method of me getting no lunch has got to cease."