Recall your very first day(s) of school …
This is a partial Plinky Prompt. I am going to amend the question.
The original question: Recall your very first day of school, how did you feel?
I am sitting here recalling my first day(s) of school. I have brief glimpses of places and people. I attended nursery school in a church hall in the town I was born in, New Britain Ct.
Kindergarten for me was at Smith School in New Britain, the school was a multipurpose school that housed many grades. The school had sections where particular grades were located. Kindergarten was two huge class rooms, separated by a great “mud room.” I remember that there was a kinder kitchen in our room where we used to play. With wooden pots and pans and those little wooden milk bottles that came in a set of six. All different colors of the types of milk of the times.
We attended music lessons in a hall close to where our classrooms were located. At some point we practiced the Wizard of Oz and I played the cowardly lion.
First Grade was Miss. Heslin. She was the mother of a friend of my father’s, who played on my then father’s softball team. He was quite the athlete when I was very young, while we still lived in the North East.
Then we moved to Florida and I attended school at Homestead elementary school. That is a bit of a blur. I have certain memories of that school, and the cafeteria. We lived just up the street from the school.
We moved a second time, a year later into a larger home, farther north in Miami proper and I attended Coral Terrace Elementary School. My brother being three years my junior he was in kindergarten when I entered elementary grades. This was the bulk of grade school for me, 2nd through 6th grade.
These were the years during the Cuban boat lift. And immigrants were coming to Florida from Cuba and that is also when we were afforded bi-lingual education that I enrolled in. I had a choice to stay in English only classes or go dual, and I went dual. And I think this is the best way to learn a second language, from an early age. Because you can do comprehensive learning every day for many years. I am of the mind that it takes a good ten years to comprehensively learn a second language.
There were many First days of school. The family shopping days that preceded the first day of school. Getting up early on the first day to take pictures and the new book bags and sundry school items. We used to be bussed to school and we would all gather in the cafeteria to wait for the teachers to arrive. The cafeteria also doubled for the assembly hall. The tables converted to seating when turned on their sides.
From this point, we moved a third time to the biggest house we had ever lived in, and the one my father employed family choice on. Meaning, that my brother and I got choice to pick the next house we would live in. The Power House.
I attended sixth grade at F.C. Martin Elementary. It was located in a black suburb. Back then neighborhoods were racially segregated. There were distinct lines of demarcation between white and black neighborhoods. At the same time, my brother attended school in the predominantly white neighborhood of Coral Reef elementary, on our side of town.
I was bused to 6th grade for the half year, after we moved to the Power house.
On the bridge between elementary school and middle school, what we called Junior High School, I was introduced to South wood Junior High School. This was my first visit to a school where we had 6 periods a day, meaning lockers, classes in different class rooms, and meals in the cafeteria. We would need to learn how to arrange our days and sort out getting between classes and going to lockers and having P.E. (that’s when I realized that I was different). They took us several times to “sit in” on classes and learn how that system worked.
I remember like crystal the first day I went to gym class and had to change from street clothes to gym clothes. It was very stark. I knew innately that I was different. But I would not engage my sexuality for many years, however, my father left reading material out for family consumption. I knew of his proclivities early on in my life. And I had made it a point to enlighten myself on available reading material. Nobody was none the wiser.
I learned a great deal during junior high. I worked a great deal with my teachers and I used to go in early, I was given a key to the science department teachers lounge to grade papers and to ready the classes by (dittoing papers and readying biology experiments). I eventually got the American Legion Award for Service to the school by the Legion group in my neighborhood.
Those were good years. I graduated from junior high to High School and I attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School. High School was a big blur. When I arrived at high school, I was a very small boy compared to the upper class men that I met that first year. There was a distinct difference from the older boys and myself. They seemed much older and bigger than I was. But I did well.
I played soccer, I wrestled and I was on the swim team for a while. That was also the time during tenth grade that I was introduced to church and contemporary Christian friends. I was invited to lunch at the Church Youth Hall just a short walk from the school. So that became the norm every day.
It was in my tenth year of school that I was introduced to Jesus. The youth group used to have retreats on a YMCA camp about four hours from home up on Lake Okeechobee in Central Florida that we were bused to for weekends away from home. I find it ironic that I lived a double life. I lived a life outside of home that was full of love, friends and fellows.
I spent a great amount of time living at other people’s homes because life at home was really not nice. It only got worse the older I got. Because my father’s alcoholism got worse exponentially.
That first year on retreat we got letters from home and from one side of my parents mouths they would say how much they loved me, and at home they spoke out of the other side of their mouths saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born and also my father’s physical abuse got worse …
We were introduced to having a personal relationship with Jesus by committing our lives to Jesus and going to church, praying and reading the bible. That was quite a culture shock, carrying around a bible and I took, eventually, a bible class in high school. There were two types of people, the Christian’s and the non- Christians. We even had a sect of satanists or witches. I remember those kids because they used to terrorize the teachers by threatening their children.
I eventually graduated High School, and barely, by the skin of my teeth, because my math grades were so bad. I was hired by Junior Achievement to work in their offices in the city they gave me a scholarship to the local junior college, because we (or more to the point) my parents could not afford university.
I did a year in junior college and a year following that in Catholic Seminary.
You never know where I would have ended up had I been accepted to stay in Seminary. I would have become a priest in the Arch-Diocese of Miami.
There are a lot of stories here, during this period of life that I have already written about in the Pages section of the blog. I just needed to spit something out tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …