Kindergarten

On the first day of kindergarten, our moms brought us to this classroom and stopped at the door as we kids walked on in. I walked straight over to that bookshelf on the right and picked a Disney-related book to start reading, looking for something entertaining. The teacher, Mrs. Ralston, corrected me by guiding me over to the center of the room where the kids had to sit cross-legged on the rug and listen to her. She looked even older than my grandma.

A few of us already knew how to read but we were all forced to learn (or relearn) how to count to ten and say the alphabet; it was No Child Left Behind, before its time. One kid did the best he could; when we were all supposed to answer the teacher's question out loud at the same time, he would say the answer (quickly) two seconds after everyone else.

There's the corner where Sandy threw up one morning. Spectacular! Her parents let her have Lucky Charms for breakfast, we saw.

Here's the circle of little tables where we sat for juice and cookie time. It was a good time to socialize and catch up with friends in the middle of the busy day, but one time I had to sit next to the "dumb" girl. She couldn't talk; maybe she was deaf. I tried an experiment: I smiled at her and she smiled back. I frowned as meanly as I could and she frowned back. Huh. Well, I was mostly a verbal guy and I had run out of ideas. I didn't look at her anymore.

Never fell asleep during the ten-minute nap time. My mat was too thin.

I remember having an eye for the girls in my class who had mini-skirts, but then, in 1967, most dresses for five-year-old girls were essentially that. The boldest outfit was a geometric mod look, inspired (years later I would realize) by a Mondrian painting. The girls had a weird ritual at recess: Their leader, the tallest one, would pick out a boy and all the girls would chase him around the playground. No boy ever got caught.

I would know some of these kids for the next 13 years, but we never reminisced about kindergarten; too recent, apparently.