It was 1969 and we lived in a small town in north central Iowa. We were a family with two parents and six stair-step kids. I think our house only had three bedrooms so my three brothers must have shared one, our sister and I shared another and our folks and infant baby brother were in the third one. We had a basement and I think one of my mom’s brothers lived down there. My memories are a bit spotty, though, since I was rather young when we lived there.
However, I do remember kindergarten roundup! My older brother Mike was in kindergarten and since I was a year younger than he was, he was able to bring me to school with him one day so that I could get a feel for what kindergarten was like. Back then, you were either in morning kindergarten or afternoon kindergarten – not like it is now where most schools have kindergarten all day long.
I was oh so excited to get to go to school! My maternal grandma used to teach in a one-room schoolhouse before she married my grandpa so, in order to keep us little ones busy, she played school with us. I don’t think my siblings played school with Grandma but I absolutely loved to!
Wasn’t I cute?! Those curls in my hair were natural. All my mom had to do was roll a strand of hair around her finger and the curls stayed like what you see in the photograph above all day. Well, that is unless I played like the tomboy that I was – climbing trees, scaring my brothers, wrestling with them, running all over our block chasing after them, etc.
So hand in hand, Mike and I walked to kindergarten. Our older sister was with us, too, but she was too cool to hold our hands, though she probably walked a ‘safe’ distance in front of us. ‘Safe’ meaning close enough to keep an eye on us but not so as her friends would notice that we were her siblings. The school was only two or three blocks down the road from our house, if I remember correctly; and back then, it was no big deal for kids to walk to school without a parent or other adult making sure they made it there and back without someone taking them.
I had such a great time in kindergarten! I don’t remember the teacher’s name but she spoke to me in a very nice voice. I know we wrote some things with big fat pencils and we colored some things with big fat crayons. We also played with toys, toys that I’d never seen or played with before! I had a blast!
When we got home from kindergarten, Mike walked in the door, spitting mad. He informed Mom that he was never, ever, ever taking me to kindergarten with him again. And when the next school year rolled around, he wasn’t walking with me to school and he would not ever take me to my classroom. When Mom asked him why, he was too angry to answer her.
Later on at supper, he was finally able to talk. He told everyone at the table that the reason he was upset with me was because when it was story time, all of the kids sat in a semi-circle to listen to the teacher read a book to them. All except for me. I was over playing with the toys! And no matter how many times the teacher tried to convince me to come join the rest of the class, I told her I could hear her read the book just fine, I just wanted to play with the toys because we’d never had any of them at home and probably never would.
Poor Mike. He was so embarrassed by his little sister. All because I wanted to play with the toys. Mike, I’m pretty sure you’ve forgiven me for this by now but if not, send more toys!