Sweet School Days

Yesterday’s Daily Prompt was to write about a place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, that has been destroyed. I usually don’t respond to the Daily Prompts because I can’t think of what to write about. But this one was easy.

My elementary school, Roger Sherman, is now a parking lot and has been for some time. It used to occupy the corner of Reef Road and the Post Road, smack dab in the center of our town, Fairfield, Connecticut. It was a red brick building with two floors above ground and one floor below. You moved up through the floors the older you got. I suppose today’s children, perhaps even my own, would think my elementary school was primitive. After all, we didn’t have an auditorium or a cafeteria. We brought lunch from home and ate in our classrooms. I remember the milkman coming to our classroom with a crate of little milk cartons and setting them on the radiator. We were given graham crackers for a snack to go along with the milk. The only problem was that by the time we were given the milk, it had sat on the radiator long enough to start melting the wax from the cartons, so we drank warm, waxy milk for snack time.

The only picture of my elementary school.  From a newspaper clipping.  I am the second from left.

The only picture of my elementary school. From a newspaper clipping. I am the third from left.

Since we had no auditorium, whenever we had assemblies, we all sat on the floor in the long, long hallway. Each floor had to take turns seeing or hearing the program. I remember the many times Officer Friendly came to talk about the dangers of blasting caps (I kept my nose to the ground for quite awhile after each talk in case a blasting cap should ever cross my path, but none ever did), and I looked forward every Christmas to seeing The Littlest Angel projected onto a screen from the reel to reel projector. Of course, if your class was at the end of the hallway, you couldn’t see very much.

We also didn’t have a nurse’s office or a nurse when I was going to elementary school. I remember the yearly process of standing in a line, class by class, outside the principal’s office and being marched in, one by one, to have her check our heads for lice.

During recess the favorite pastime was to play “Crack the Whip,” a game where a long string of children holding hands, would swing the line around and around until the children at the end of the line began flying off. I should amend that to saying it was the favorite pastime for most of the children, but not for me. I was always the tail of the whip and was the first to be flung off into oblivion.

October 1955.  I was in second grade.

October 1955. I was in second grade.

I have such fond memories of going to that school. I never remember one teacher who wasn’t kind. I loved dressing up in the pretty dresses my grandma made for me. Little girls did not go to school wearing pants in those days, though pants would have come in handy when I was playing “Crack the Whip” and landed on my butt. Though the red brick building is long gone, I still remember the echo of footsteps in its halls. No one can knock that memory down.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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29 Responses to Sweet School Days

  1. Buildings come and go but memories tend to stick around a little better. We didn’t wear trousers either to primary school, no uniform either, it was always dresses. 🙂

  2. pattisj says:

    Wow, this brings back memories! We were only allowed to wear snow pants under our dresses on cold, winter days, as we all walked to school. You got graham crackers with your milk? No fair!

  3. judithhb says:

    This post brings back so many memories Susan. School milk – ugh. I have never liked milk and those little bottles sitting on the radiator making the milk warm was enough to .. well you can fill in the rest of that sentence. We had assembly in the gym as there was no auditorium and as you say today’s children would be horrified at how primitive it all was. Lovely post. Thank you. 😀

  4. Huffygirl says:

    Wonderful memories Susan. I’m glad you had such warm memories of your elementary school. My school is still standing, but unfortunately it reminds me of the many mean nuns I had in school. There were a few good memories though.

  5. Jiawei says:

    Wonderful post! Love the photos and the nostalgic memories.

  6. I would love to re-post this on Once a Little Girl (on the page “Once a Little Girl Friends.) Please send me an e-mail and let me know if you are willing. I love your stories from the now and from the then.

  7. Jenny says:

    A very nice story of your memories. I can imagine beautiful dresses made by your grandma.

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you, Jenny. My grandmother was a wonderful seamstress. She and my grandfather owned a men’s store on Madison Avenue in NYC, and she did all the alterations. When she made me a dress, she would make a matching one for my Ginny doll.

  8. Dianna says:

    What a wonderful post!! I loved seeing the pictures of you and reading about your memories of school. Things were much different then; kids today can’t believe that girls weren’t allowed to wear slacks. And boys didn’t wear jeans, but rather “khaki” type pants, with their shirt-tails tucked in. It was a more conservative, more civilized era – in my humble opinion!

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, Dianna, I think we did look a lot neater in those days, and I think the way we were dressed set the tone of how we thought about school. We were there to learn. I did get a kick out of that little boy in the Hopalong Cassidy or Lone Ranger outfit in the newspaper clipping!

  9. wonderful post! brought back many of my own elementary school memories. We had uniforms to wear, as I went to a parochial school. We had a basement wherre we ate lunch and we had a gym because our school once was a high school, that is where we had all our assemblies. BTW, my kindergarden school and my elementary school are both now empty lots. Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks, DAF

  10. Al says:

    Roger Sherman. There’s a Connecticut name if I ever heard one.

    My elementary school in Elmira, NY is still standing. Went back there a few years ago. It’s been renovated but the shell is still the same. I stood in the play yard and pictured myself playing kickball with my classmates.

    If I had been in your second grade class, I would have had a crush on you.

    Good post. Really stirred up the echos.

    • Coming East says:

      Ha-ha, Al! Must be the dress my grandmother made for me! You know, I think I have at least as many, if not more, memories of elementary school as I do of high school. I think I actually enjoyed elementary school more. Probably the coloring.

  11. E.C. says:

    This a beautiful tribute to the days gone by. Your photos are just precious.
    I remember my grammar school days were much like yours. We had a regular school-school with many classrooms, a lunchroom, a library and an auditorium, but still the innocence of the times ruled our hearts. We were allowed to wear pants under our dresses when the weather was bitter cold otherwise our bare legs was scrapped and dinged at recess each day.
    Thanks for sharing these sweet and nostalgic memories. 🙂

  12. My elementary school (gr 5-6) is also gone. More than crack-the-whip (more of a neighborhood game) I remember dodge ball games. I hated going to school after a rain… the playground was always covered with earth worms – guess it was fertile soil for raising children! It was a turn of the century brick building that was torn down years ago. The spot now is home to a drive through Walgreen’s!! Thanks for the memories Susan!

  13. mairedubhtx says:

    We used to play crack the whip at my school too. I didn’t like it because I always went flying off. Our milk situation was better, though. Although it was warm, ours was in glass bottles and mine was chocolate and I loved chocolate milk, warm or not. My mother constantly warned me I would get sick of chocolate milk but I never did. So there.

  14. Love the photos! Nice post too- I remember those gyms/auditoriums.

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