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Topic: Elementary School (07/19/04)
TITLE: A boy named Cole and other memories
By L Hutcheson
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Even though my kindergarten days are three decades in the past, I still remember with fondness these first teachers – I remember their big hairdos (it was the early 70s), their kindness and their contagious enthusiasm for learning, which they passed onto their young students, myself included. I have always loved learning. My mom, who went home to be with the Lord two years ago, always said that I started talking at 9 months and I have never stopped…and that my favorite word has always been “why?” Not “why?” in a nagging sense, but “why?” in a sense of wonder, a need to understand the meaning behind things, and once that was satisfied as much as possible, there was peace.
I attended three elementary schools in three different cities and two different states – Fern Creek Elementary, Argyle Elementary and R.B. Wright Elementary.
In third grade, there was a boy named Cole. He sat behind me. He had a crush on me and would always bother me. So, in true little girl fashion, I did the only sensible thing, I would give him a swift backwards kick to the shins each time he would pester me. Poor thing – his shins were always green and yellow and black and blue from the bruises and he would always get in trouble with the teacher when he would holler out in pain. I on the other hand seemed to escape the teacher’s notice as the culprit behind the shin kicks. Always being one of the smartest students in the class meant that I was usually a bit of a “teacher’s pet” and as such, in the case of Cole, I managed to avoid the punishment that was rightly mine.
Another random, but life-shaping memory was made on the day that a tornado hit my school in Atlanta. It was second grade, in the fall, and we had just moved to Smyrna, a suburb of Atlanta. The sky was gray and the alarm sounded – a tornado had been spotted. We all went out into the hallway and crouched down, assuming the safety drill position. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, I raised my hand and called my teacher over. I had to go to the bathroom. She gave me permission and a warning, “Don’t blame me if you die while you are going to the bathroom.” To say the least, I was freaked out – but still I had to go. So I went as quickly as possible, praying all the while, begging God to spare me from death and such an embarrassing one at that. I managed to make it back to my spot in the hallway and crouch down just in time – we heard the crash as the tornado jumped over the top of the back part of the school, wrecking the 6th grade classrooms and part of the library. While I was safe from harm, my soul had been scarred. From that point on, anytime it got cloudy outside, I would suddenly feel very sick and request to go home…I did not want to be caught at school during another storm; I wanted to be safe at home with my mom. For a while, this strategy worked, but then my parents caught on and wisely put a stop to it.
Other snapshots from elementary school – my best friends who were identical twins, being in a classroom with four other girls with my first name, the girl who sat in front of me and loved to toss her extra long hair back onto my desk during tests, mastering the jungle gym (which was an accomplishment for a girl who has never been extremely athletic or coordinated), getting glasses, going through a TB scare and being tested for scoliosis, re-enacting General Sherman’s burning of Atlanta, just to name a few things.
My elementary school memories seem to be like photographs in an old album that belongs to an elderly aunt – you know what I mean – you recognize some of the people, but the specifics on the places and some of the “characters” in the pictures will forever remain a mystery, yet they are a part of the family history nonetheless. And so it is with my thoughts of elementary school…they are now hazy, mostly happy memories, like colorful threads and intricate stitches sewn into the tapestry that is my life.