Snippets from the 1st grade-1950 (5-6)

Snippet: Grass was greener

 

My father often thought “the grass was greener” in another city. Consequently, we moved a lot and I was in six different schools in the first grade in different parts of rural South Carolina.

Snippet: Explosion my neighbor boy’s face

 

Playing with the boy next door in his backyard, my playmate lit a match to look into a five-gallon bucket. The fumes coming from that bucket exploded into his face. Terrified, I ran to get my mother. My mother was horrified that the boy’s mother kept saying, “Get a priest, get a priest,” instead of, “Get a doctor.”

 

Snippet: Hated school

 

One day, I couldn’t bear the thought of going to school, one of the six schools I attended during first grade. I hid under two suspended kerosine oil drums in the backside of my house. When my mother came out to hang up clothes, she found me and, feeling sorry for me, let me stay home for the day.

 

Snippet: A bit of cruelty on my part

 

A playmate and I discovered that, when screwing in a light bulb, to turn it on, while standing in the wet cellar of a neighbor’s home, you would get an electric shock. We pranked a few other boys our age by persuading them to screw in the light bulb and laughing when they got shocked.

Snippet: How could my teacher be that cruel?

 

A first-grade teacher’s son was also a student in her class. One day he was playing with the pigtails of the girl sitting in front of him. As punishment, his mother forced him to wear his hair in pigtails to school the next day. I felt so mortified by how she humiliated her son and terrified that an adult might do something like that to me while being very thankful that I knew my parents would never do anything like that.

 

Snippet: My mother never told me what to wear 

 

I don’t ever remember not dressing myself and choosing what I would wear for the day. One teacher asked the students about how their parents selected the clothes they would wear for the day. She was shocked when I told her I did it for myself. For whatever reason, I never chose to wear undershorts. They just seemed redundant to me. I think I was in college before I began to wear them.

 

Snippet: My mother never told me to “put on a coat”

 

She trusted us children to decide whether or not we needed more or less clothes whenever we went outside. She trusted that our own bodies would tell us what to do. I think she was disdainful of other mothers who coddled and controlled their children this way.

Snippet: My mother never told us to “make nice” to adults

 

She gently taught us to be polite to others, like “yes, sir” and “no sir” and “thank you, ma'am," but that was to be directed at everyone. Even when she was addressing me at six years old, she would say, "yes, sir" and "no, sir." But she also never asked us to express feelings we didn’t have toward other adults in order to make the adults think that we were “well-behaved kids.”

Snippet: Never “behave yourself”

 

My mother never used the phrase “behave yourself,” even though I remember other mothers and adults often saying this to their children. In fact, my mother defended children who asked, “Why?” if they didn’t agree with what was asked of them, including when she asked me to do something.

 

Snippet: The speed of light

 

My mother shared many times, “Light is so fast it can travel around the world seven times in one second.” I remembered being so amazed by that fact.

Snippet: Safe in a thunderstorm

 

Here were my mother’s instructions on how to be safe in a thunderstorm. “Count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning...1001, 1002...and when you hear the sound of the thunder. If it’s five seconds or more, you’re pretty safe...since it was over a mile away. But if it’s three or fewer seconds, then you need to be careful. Don’t stand near a tall tree. If you’re in the middle of a big field, lie down on the ground.” These instructions were perhaps more important for me since she would let me go out and play in the rain if I wanted to.

Dateline 1950

 

The first Peanuts comic strip was published on October 2nd and it was initially shown in seven different newspapers. The comic was created by Charles Schulz and featured the classic character Charlie Brown. The Peanuts comics soon became a huge hit, spawning TV shows, cartoon films, books, and merchandise, all featuring the beloved characters. The comics became a pop culture fixture and ran in the U.S. newspapers until February of 2000 when the last Peanuts comic strip hit the presses a day after Charles Schulz’s death.

Diners Club issued the first credit cards (made of cardboard).

Eight million homes in the United States owned televisions.

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