Tests have been administered and final grades assigned. Movement up the stairway of formal education has been granted or denied. Shouts of joy or groans of frustration have been visited upon myriad students -- and parents. Graduation announcements have been sent, gifts and cards purchased, ceremonies attended. Those so inclined and financially able to do so are in the throes of preparation to enter an institution of higher learning in a couple of months, most with excitement, some with trepidation. Others wonder and worry about where in the world they are going to find jobs.
The bright yellow buses are stilled, housed in huge warehouses for repairs and maintenance. Neighborhood streets are full of children on skateboards, bikes, motorized scooters and (gasp) afoot! The local recreation center swimming pool is open for business. Basketball goals have been dragged from behind garages to the edges of driveways and makeshift teams of players take turns trying to make baskets and stay out of the way of sometimes impatient motorists. Boom-boxes play on carports and in back yards until the curfew hour, with an occasional passing motorized juke-box breaking the stillness of the night.
All this school-related activity called to mind my first foray into the public (U.S. style) education system. The year was 1939. In September of that year I had reached an age sufficient to admit me to kindergarten in El Paso, Texas. We lived just far enough away from the school that my mother decided that I should ride the city bus from our one-room apartment to the school each morning, although I would be allowed to walk home after school. I think that she knew that my curiosity sometimes caused my attention to wander, and being a little late getting back home in the afternoon was preferable to being late to school.
She and I rode the city bus to the school when I went to be enrolled. During the trip, Mother went over and over the procedures for paying the bus fare, appropriate behavior while on the bus, and where to get off --- and so on and so on. She accompanied me to my classroom, where I met the teacher and obtained a list of supplies needed (tablet and pencil was about it, as I recall). Then we walked from the school back to the apartment, with Mother going over and over the exact route I was to take, stopping at cross-streets, looking both ways, etc., etc.
The next morning, I caught the bus at the nearby corner, sat up like a big girl, minded my manners, and got off the bus in front of the school. The red-brick school building had one story raised about eight to ten feet above the lot, and a large, partially below ground-level basement. About a dozen big steps (at least they looked that way to a five year old) led from the front walk upwards to the main floor.
With tablet and pencil and (probably) lunch box in hand, I started up the steps to begin my first day in school. I was so excited! However, standing about half-way up the steps was a huge boy (must have been a sixth-grade student) who challenged me, in fact, barred my way with outspread arms and said in a loud voice"You can't come in here!" I think I tried to get past him; after all, I had to go to school! But, try as I might, he continued to forbid my entrance!!! So...
...I turned around and walked home.
That my mother was astonished to see me is an understatement. When I told her what had happened, we got on the bus and went to school again. It was then that I learned that kindergarten was down the steps at the side of the building. Only big kids got to go up the steps onto the main floor. After explaining to the teacher why I was tardy on my first day, Mother went back home to care for my two siblings who had been left in the charge of the landlady.
I don't remember anything else at all about my first day of school, but there are other things that I do remember about that school year, and those, perhaps, will be other stories. I might even write about why, to this day, I can't stand the taste nor smell of Pet Brand evaporated milk.