It's a sad day in Black Hawk when all the “good stuff” is eliminated for a child who goes to school.
I remember when I started first grade...me...and Paul. First through fourth grades we were together in Miss Barton's room. Every day we were exposed to all their lessons and behaviors...we soaked it up like sponges. It wasn't long until we were helping the little kids who came after us. At the same time, I was developing from a thin stick of a child to being well-padded. I wonder now what the reason could have been as it continued into adulthood.
I remember as I was going into Fifth Grade Miss Barton said to my Dad, “I think Beatrice is ready to move on to Sixth Grade next year.”
Dad, pondering the idea, replied, “No, I don't think so. There must be something in Fifth Grade that she needs to learn.” He was thinking, “You are not pushing my kid ahead...she needs to learn whatever is in Fifth Grade.”
Paul and I moved from being little kids playing in his Mom's kitchen, where the floor was so scrubbed we could have eaten off it, to hustling our way through all the classes offered in Townville's schools. We matriculated through classrooms in a four room two-story house to a brand new High School from which we graduated in 1942. I was off to Edinboro State College to become a teacher like my Mom; Paul joined the U.S.Navy to fight through World War II. Unfortunately, on his way home Paul was involved in an automobile accident near Washington, D.C, and did not survive. How ironic.
Through the years, we played on school softball and basketball teams, and joined in skating events on our own time. Evenings all the kids who had road skates... remember the ones you had to have a key to fasten them on your shoes...a key that hung on a string around your neck... joined together to skate the few miles out to the corners where the cement road ended and back home to a get-together for a weiner roast. I guess you have figured out there was very little traffic in those days, so we weren't taking a big risk.
Those miles of cement road were built in 1924 when I was a baby. One of our relatives who worked on the road often relaxed in our kitchen. He would rock me while Mom did housework and prepared lunches for the men in the work crew. At that time, we lived in the upstairs apartment over Dad's Garage/Auto Sales business.
As aoon as he could, Dad bought a house that was out in the country and moved it onto the existing basement of a house that had burned in the middle of town. I cannot imagine what that job was like, but I bet everyone in town was watching. The house had two bedrooms upstairs and one bedroom, a parlor, living room, dining room, kitchen, woodshed, and a front porch on the ground floor.
The bedrooms were equipped with “thunder mugs” under the beds in case of an emergency at night. Otherwise, we made our way out back to the “little house by the barn” to take care of elimination. Going to the bathroom was a “major project” in those days. It was a two-holer, but you were in real trouble if someone was inside with the door locked. Imagine dancing around outside hoping whoever was inside would come out before you filled your shoes.
In 1929, the large, wooden grocery store in the middle of town burned to the ground. The fire swept around the small Post Office, burned everything in the space back to the Mill and leveled Dad's Chevrolet Sales and Auto Repair business. There was talk that the grocery owner set the fire in order to solve his financial problems. As far as I know, there was never a solution, but the grocery was never rebuilt.
With his business burned to the ground, Dad rose from desolation, borrowed money from his brother-in-law, Ernest Prather, and rebuilt the Central Garage on half of the old basement. He started the long road to paying off all the bills he had at the time of the fire. He wrote to everyone he owed and set out to maintain his good reputation...
one day at a time. He finished paying Uncle Ernie the year I graduated from college...I remember the “loan-burning” event. My Dad, Arch Hanna, was an honorable man.
When I was in Seventh Grade, our district hired its first Music Teacher...Mr. Earl Johnson. He was a polio survivor who had one leg in a metal brace which enabled him to walk. The knee had to be triggered for him to sit down...and it prevented him from having a “marching” band.
Mr. Johnson oganized an orchestra...starting from scratch. What a challenge that had to be. I was playing the piano for the Methodist Sunday School services, but when it came to being the accompanist for the band, I wasn't as accomplished as Virginia Barnes. My cousin, Betty, and I really wanted to be part of the music, so we chose to play violins.
Betty's mother, Hazel, had an instrument that had been kept in the family after she passed away. I was able to borrow a violin from a Sara Fitz...who allowed me to keep it all through high school and college...I never owned one of my own.
We took lessons... practicing through months of screeching sounds that seriously aggravated our Cocker Spaniel Bobby's ears. He would bury himself under the piano bench and crowl...a mixture of crying and howling...so miserable. Eventually, we were accomplished enough that we were assigned chairs in Mr. Johnson's Orchestra.
All the students who were accepted into the orchestra and choruses he formed were delighted to compete with other schools in Spring contests. I sang in the chorus, the ensemble (eight students), and the trio. I was chosen to perform the Alto Solo presentation....that was when my voice changed from a Soprano to Alto range. We sewed white dresses that matched to make a trademark Townville High School unit.
All of these things were there for us in that small northwestern Pennsylvania community of 350 residents. If those folks could afford these amenities for the students, what has happened?
I know. Everything costs MORE. Communities have grown by leaps and bounds. People are so BUSY that they can't set aside time and money to educate their young folks. Moms and Dads are exhausted just trying to keep a roof over the heads of their families. They have nothing left to be involved in the education of the kids. They have done enough to just send them off to school.
We also realize many parents nowadays are not proficient in the English language, so they cannot help. They know they have to send the kids to school, so they just hope for the best. The kids put in the required hours and end up floating around the Mall, on the streets, doing whatever.
Not in Fairfield/Suisun. Not in our back yard. Until now. We are on the brink. Several schools have been closed. The students have been assigned to schools that are farther away from their homes. More children are on the sidewalks in the morning when it is time to get to school. More children are on the sidewalks in the afternoon when school is dismissed. Cars are lined up all over the neighborhood to pick up the children whose parents have transportation. Crossing guards facilitate children and cars movement through the same intersections. Very hazardous way to go. Today's situation may not be solved this year or within this decade.
Back to the question...just how much can our children do without? What amenities can be eliminated without creating a generation of children who know reading...writing...and 'rithmetic...but have no appreciation of the finer arts...music, art, and game sportsmanship.
Let's keep the “good stuff” in the daily lives of our children at school. Let's just do that.