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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Starting the Third Grade for the Third Time

Many of us know the traumas of changing schools; lost friends, fear of new children, teachers and the different ways in which all schools operate.  I went to 12 different schools before I finished the third grade so when I say “starting the third grade” here I am talking about the third time I started at a new school in the third grade.  I went to schools in Panama, California, Arkansas during my first three years of education.  There was not a logical sequence to this schooling at all, I actually left school in Panama, went to Arkansas, then California, then Arkansas, then California, then Arkansas for the final stay.
When we made the final move to Arkansas we moved into a two room clapboard house that was a quarter of a mile off of the paved road where I caught the school bus.  A clapboard house is one with only an outside wall. The inside of the outside wall is the inside wall.  They nail a two by four across the top, middle and bottom of the wall then put it in place with the other walls.  We had a water pump and an outhouse in the back yard and no electricity.  I did my lessons by the light of a Hurricane lantern filled with kerosene. The house was in a corner of a forty acre cotton patch that belonged to my mom’s brother.  The school was a two room school house with two outhouses (girls and boys) behind the school. There were two teachers, the first had first, second and third graders; the second teacher had the fourth, fifth and sixth graders.  I don’t remember much about the lessons except they seemed to me to be chaotic.  What I do remember was that one of the favorite games for the larger children at recess was “Put him on the outhouse”.  There was a boy who was as large as an adult so you could not tell his age and he was very mentally deficient.  The other older children would give him a switch and point one of the younger students and say, “Put him on the outhouse!”  Now I watched this several times and marveled that such small children could jump so high but I finally understood when it came my turn.  Took me three jumps but I grabbed the edge of the roof and pulled myself up after receiving about ten welts on my back and legs.  The teachers didn’t do playground duty so no adult ever saw these games.  We all knew to keep out mouths shut at school and at home or we would get it again.  Needless to say I didn’t much care for this entire experience so I was glad when I learned that I would be starting my third school in the third grade when we moved one weekend.
The new house was great, it was also a two room clapboard house that belonged to my father’s brother but it was twice as large as the old one and it had brick siding (a tarpaper covering the outside with brick imprint in the gravel on the surface)  and it was right on the paved road.  It was also just a quarter of a mile from town.  We now had electricity but still had the water pump and the outhouse but it was a definite step up. I must tell you that there were a lot of people living in the same conditions in that part of the country so it didn’t seem so strange to a third grader.
Well I started school; I had to walk the quarter mile to town then five blocks to the elementary school. The school was on the back of the second block off of Main Street so you could get to the back of the school and the playground by cutting through an alley between two houses. I had no problem walking to school. It was after all the late 1940s and people never heard of child abductions or molestation back then.  However, when I got to the end of the alley and looked at that huge two storied brick school house I froze.  I just couldn’t go in and face all the new children I saw on the playground.  I simply turned around and walked back home.  That is I did until I thought about it and decided I would be in big trouble if I went home.  So I walked to the ditch that our house sat beside and the spent the day throwing rocks at bottles, birds, whatever a third grader does to pass time.  This routine went on for about a week; I would get ready, walk to school, look at the children on the playground, turn around and walk back to the ditch.  I think I really tried each day to get past the end of the alley but I just couldn’t do it.  On my last day of playing hooky I was walking back through town when an arm shot out of this car parked at the curb.  The arm grabbed me by my hand and this voice said “Where are you going boy?”  Oh my god it was my father and I was caught.  I stammered something about hating the school and not going to go.  He asked me how long I had been playing hooky and where was I going.  So I told him since the first day and where I went and what I did. Well when you are in the third grade you don’t make those kinds of statements, at least I couldn’t to my father.  He took me by my arm and literally kicked my butt every step of the way back to the end of the alley by the school then shoved me toward the playground.  That is probably an exaggeration but it is the way I remember it, booted four blocks. He told me that what I had gotten was nothing to what I would get if he ever caught me playing hooky again.  As I walked crying (who wouldn’t cry after being booted in the butt for four blocks) across the play ground a little girl about my size was sitting on the merry go round and she asked me “Why are you crying little boy?”  I nearly screamed “Because I hate this place and I hate you!”
Well it turned out that I stayed in that school until I completed the sixth grade and wound up being one of two boys who led the playground games.  I ended up loving the place and just a couple of years ago I went back to take a look at the old two storied school house.  It was gone and there was a park where it had been. The little girl became one of my best friends and it hurt me tremendously when I learned years later that she had committed suicide.  I was in my thirty’s by then but actually thought at the time “Did I start her mind down that track with my first unkind statement to her.”  Ridiculous I know but that is what I thought at the time. The other boy who was a leader on the playground became my best friend.  We remained best friends up until he died in an auto accident.
So I guess the moral to this story is everything you fear is not bad.  Also do your best to think and say kind words because harsh words and thoughts may come back to haunt you.


  1. Hi,

    I've just been on your mushroom photography page:
    and noticed a few taxonomic mistakes. Usually I wouldn't bother saying anything but seeing as mushroom misidentification is a dangerous game and your picture appear on Google - I'd like to point out some mistakes:
    * Most importantly you've listed a probably deadly Amanita as edible. That is your 'Pluteus petasatus' and your second 'Scleroderma polyrhizum' are all picture of Amanitas. Something like Amanita abrupta.
    * All of your 'Chlorophyllum molybdites' are in fact Macrolepiota procera, which IS edible. Enjoy future finds :-)
    * There is no such mushroom as 'Suillus Boletus' - those are two separate Genera. Slippery jacks are Suillus luteus, but I doubt that's what you have. If you need a name for it, it is a Bolete of some sort at least.
    * The 'agaric' at the beginning is an agaric yes. More specifically it is an Amanita to give you a better name for it. Probably an edible one, but you should be sure before eating it.
    * As for the others, I don't know, but I'd be skeptical of any of them except the 'Pycnoporus cinnabarinus' which appears to be correct. If you'd like your photos identified, I suggest that you post them on Mushroom Observer, or some other identification site. There are lots of really helpful Mycophiles around

    They are very nice photos - just please stay safe and help other stay safe too :-)

    I kindly ask that you update your captions, please.

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