A memorial of sorts

One Room School

One Room School (Photo credit: W9NED)

This is a shortened version of my column for the newspaper:

Sometimes writers need prompts. Something to get the juices flowing. This morning a prompt from WordPress read: “A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write a memorial.”

And do you know what immediately came to mind? The one room school house that I attended for the first four years of my school life. It was called  Zion — and yes, we walked about a mile and a half to school (it seemed like five miles) but not in bare feet, or in ten feet of snow.

I cannot remember when the school was torn down, but whenever I pass the spot where it stood, a wave of nostalgia passes over me. I wish it were still standing, though if it were, it would probably have been turned into someone’s residence as so many of the smaller schools have been. Students who attended these schools were eaten up by either regional or town schools, but their experiences at the one room schools would never be lost.

I loved and hated that school. We were exposed to such a variety of kids that it really did stand us in good stead for a life that is made up of all kinds of people, and not just kids our own age. You learned how to cope, how to get along, and you learned that life was not always easy.

What I loved about the school was the fact that we were exposed to a unique learning experience. We learned our lessons, but were able to “listen in” on the lessons of the other grades, and if you were an eager student you garnered an education above your years. We did a lot of things together as a whole school. We played baseball together; we had a school choir where we competed at a yearly concert; we practiced for the yearly Christmas concerts together; and we exchanged names for Christmas gifts.  You were just as likely to end up with some grade eight boy’s name, as the girl who sat next to you in your grade.

What I hated about the school were the things most students would hate about any school—if you were picked on, or you were not quite up to snuff in sports, or if you were the teacher’s pet. But those were all valuable learning experiences as well, if not the most pleasant. (I still remember being taught how to make an iceball—a snowball with ice in the middle that hurt like heck if you got hit with it.)

One of the best things about a one room school for me was that the teacher had to divide her time among all the grades, so when she was not teaching you, you had all the time in the world to do your lessons, then read as much as you wanted. Since I loved to read, this was a real bonus for me.

After grade four,  I was moved to a regional school and put in a classroom of kids who were my own age. It was quite a transition. We had a teacher who was available to us all throughout the day, which was a good thing, but left little time to be on your own.

I am glad that I got to experience both ways of being educated. I would never give up the things I learned at the one room school house. To this day, I miss being able to see a piece of my history. The school was the same one my parents and aunts and uncles attended, and even some of my grandparents.  It was the true essence of community.

I will never bid a fond farewell to Zion—it will always be fraught with sadness.

Where is the bliss? Not in the fact that the school was torn down, but in the fact that it was a piece of my history. What piece of your history is missing, but still remembered?

M ~ Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi's adaptation

Mighty Mouse in Ralph Bakshi’s adaptation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I decided that since my sister wrote me in an email that my “M” posting confused her because she was trying to figure out how “M” actually figured into my post about James Bond–that I would do a real post about “M”. So here goes:

My eldest son’s nickname is Mouse. It was given to him when he played basketball in elementary school and followed him all the way to grade 12. He was on every basketball team there was at the schools he attended. Junior elementary. Senior elementary. Junior High School. Senior High School. (Get ready for some bragging: in High School he won Most Dedicated Player when he was on both the Junior and Senior Teams. One is sitting on my bookshelf above where I am writing this as we speak).

He was given the nickname Mouse I think because they thought he was quiet. This confused me. He was not quiet at home. He was not quiet in class, though never a real disruption. He just was not quiet as a mouse anywhere that I came into contact with him. Now he was exceedingly polite to his teachers and his coaches, but he was not quiet. (Have I made my point here–the boy was, and as a young man is not QUIET).

We have an apartment attached to our house which he uses for band practice and just general hanging around in when he is here. He calls it the Mousetrap. His band is called Rodents & Rebels. Now I ask you, how did sweet little (but not quiet) Mouse become a Rodent? I guess Mouse was just not scary enough to go with Rebels.

There you have – my real post starting with a real M for Mighty Mouse–my non-quiet son!

Published in: on September 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm  Comments (22)  
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“I” ~ Or the Luxury of Using I

self-esteem, groups and hate

self-esteem, groups and hate (Photo credit: Will Lion)

“I” seemed to be the most banned pronoun in the English language when I went to school. We were never allowed to insert ourselves into our essays or papers—but we were always supposed to show original thought. So many times I was stymied at how to show original thought in a way that did not use “I”.

Except for that first day back at school assignment I received from grade two to grade eight: “Write about what you did on your summer vacation”—we were not given much opportunity to express ourselves using the word “I”. No wonder we had self-esteem issues, though when I was in school self-esteem was not a subject of concern. And today it seems to be a catch-all that is used for a myriad of problems that probably have nothing to do with self-esteem at all.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy writing a weekly newspaper column is that I get to use “I” whenever the heck I want to. In fact, I have noticed that it is the more personal columns and posts on this blog that I write that get the most comments.  I like to read about other people and their experiences and how they handled something—and like everyone else, I like to relate to the writer.

Here are a few famous “I”s:

“I see myself as an intelligent, sensitive human, with the soul of a clown which forces me to blow it at the most important moments.”
Jim Morrison

“I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.”
Marilyn Monroe

“I trust no one, not even myself.”
Joseph Stalin

“I’m OK with myself, with history, my work, who I am and who I was.”
Sidney Poitier

“Without ‘I’, we would neither know ourselves or others.” ~ Me