Hello Dear Readers and welcome to this edition of My Brain, Peanuts, Remembers.
Today’s Topic: First Grade
I never went to kindergarten. I don’t know why. I think maybe it hadn’t been invented yet so by the time I started first grade, I was so bored out of my gourd at being stuck at home — that I was as ecstatic about becoming a “real school girl” as Pinocchio was about becoming a “real boy.”
At first, I loved school with every fiber of my color crayons.
Sitting at my desk, drawing letters with fat pencils, every once in a while having the thrill of needing to get up out of my seat to sharpen it, learning to love the small, repetitive vocabulary describing the barely perceptible lives of Dick and Jane . . .
And then there was learning to distinguish — through the cutting-edge technology of film strips — which old. bald men were good (Eisenhower) and which old, bald men were evil (Khrushchev). What was not to love? (Except for Khrushchev, of course.)
Biting the Bubble
Oh you should have seen me, Dear Readers. I had such a wonderful school attitude! I took to heart the film that warned us about the dangers of putting our mouths directly over the spigot of the drinking fountain and just sucking — a fate worse than heroin addiction in those days. (And nobody “bit the bubble” with as much gusto as I did, nobody!)
I was becoming an indoctrinated first-grade fool and loving it!
I always made sure to “stop, look and listen before I crossed the street,” and never to accept a ride with a stranger because, you never knew– they might be a poor driver — and, of course, I also learned how to properly carry my chair when we marched down to the multi-purpose room to have our little brains washed by current affair film strips ad communnauseum. My education was all going so well.
Here’s a 50’s vintage film showing children how to walk 18 miles alone to school through the streets of Los Angeles:
It was all going so well until the day Eddie Sickles threw up
Then one day, while I was trying to color my picture of wheat in my workbook as well as Claudia Hevel, who was the smartest girl and best colorer in the class, my teacher, Mrs. Combs said, “okay let’s turn to the next page now” and that’s when the futility of school hit me like a ton film strips and transformed my attitude of good citizen to reluctant participant — plus Eddie Sickles threw up right next to me.
What difference did any of it make?
Suddenly a horrible realization washed over me. What difference did it really make how well I colored? Or bit the bubble? Or knew which bald-headed old man to hate? What I really wanted to do with my life was to get away from Eddie Sickles and go outside and play, watch Popeye cartoons, and eat Trix. Was that so wrong?
I’m sorry to say, Dear Readers, that First-Grade Futility of School feeling never really left me. I never liked school from that moment on. Oh I still went everyday. (It was just pathetic how sick I never got.) And I tried to have a good attitude. But I never went to school again with a song in my heart.
The best I could manage was a hum in my spleen.
And there you have it, Dear Readers. My brain, Peanuts, remembers first grade. If you have any first-grade memories that you’d like to share, my brain, Peanuts is all ears!
Until next time . . . I love you