These days I help teach U.S. History, and I really do believe in the quote, Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I have always been interested in reading and learning about U.S. and World History, as well as city and church histories. I hope to someday write another book on the history of a certain place I have in mind. My current book, although it was a fiction, was kind of a history of my life in high school, and if I ever get around to it, my next book will be based on my life in college. This blog currently is covering “Things I Should’ve Put In The Book, But Didn’t”, and I’m basically looking back on my childhood experiences in Longview. I’m doing this because 1. I am not getting any younger and my memory is starting to fade a wee bit; 2. I want to leave a record for my grandkids (and future relatives) of my life’s experiences; 3. I want to share some things which may help someone in something they’re going through, plus I want to make some of my friends and classmates laugh and remember similar things; 4. And last but not least, I might make a book out of this someday.
So after that lengthy intro, on to Episode 2- (I don’t call them chapters; I call them episodes-)
Episode 2: East Ward Elementary School
I very nearly didn’t attend East Ward, due to my age at the time.
If the administration had had their way, I would’ve graduated in 1987, instead of 1986.
There was a certain rule back then that, in order to be in the first grade, you had to be six years old on September 1st. If you wasn’t, then you was held back. I started school in New Mexico, who had no such ridiculous age rule. So, when I got ready to start the first grade, I was 5 years old. I already knew how to read, write decently, and could count and write my numbers up to, oh probably 10,000 or something; I’m not bragging, I was pretty advanced for my age. However, when my mom went to enroll me, they (the school) weren’t going to take me. I don’t know how I ended up going anyway, but I think it had something to do with me lying about when my birthday was. (I don’t remember- Lol) I think I was told to say my birthday was September 1st, and that I was turning 6 on that day. It’s not and I wasn’t, of course. The very first day of school, I went into my first grade classroom being just 5 years old.
Well, not quite. Then a problem popped up where all of a sudden, they figured, Well, he lives in an area where we plan to bus kids to a different school. Huh? To explain, they wanted to send all of the kids who lived on Young Street west of 16th Street, to a school called Mozelle Johnston Elementary. Yes, technically, I was supposed to go to a school I had never heard of waaaay on the northside of town and a school where we (my mom and I) had no idea where it was located. When my mom found out where it was located, which was way out there by Judson Middle School OUTSIDE the Longview city limits, she was like, No way, Jose- And so, through what I suppose was lying about my address, too, I didn’t go to Mozelle Johnston and meet my future classmates at Judson five years early; I went on to East Ward. (Maybe my daddy being in the service had something to do with me staying where I was at. I don’t know.) So every morning, I watched my neighbor, who was also in the first grade, come outside around 6:50am and catch a bus to Mozelle. I never did think why him and not me, and to be honest, I didn’t actually care all that much. I was going to a new school regardless of whether or not it was East Ward or Mozelle.
What do I remember about the first day of school? The very first thing I remember was the smell of the classroom. It smelled like lunchboxes with fresh salami sandwiches and fruit, my teacher’s perfume, and like pencils and Big Chief tablets. I remember seeing the different centers, for instance library and grocery store centers, and all the different books we would read during the year. Pug. Zip, Pop, Go! Blue Dilly Dilly. Mustard Seed Magic. I loved to read, and I couldn’t wait to read those books. I remember meeting my teacher, Ms. Eckhardt, who from first appearance, looked to be a really nice, pretty, and friendly teacher. And of course I remember my first grade classmates (some of them anyway) and meeting them for the first time- Jennifer Anderson, a true friend for a long, long time; John Young, my buddy and another true blue friend; Kevelyn Peoples, someone I will never forget; and Deyavor Harnage, who was as pretty as she was smart, and who’d be my main competition when it came to who was making the best grades.
Deyavor and I got along like the way most little boys and little girls got along back then: we mostly argued about who was smarter, and we’d try to outdo the other in certain things. But for the most part, we got along pretty good. (At least, we didn’t fight one another.) Jennifer and I got along really well; our mothers became really good friends back then, so we’d visit often. John was my buddy in catching bugs and stuff like that, and I think Kevelyn tried to catch me a few times back then- I remember her chasing me around a lot.
However, the person who was what would be called today, my bestie, was someone I haven’t seen since the end of the 2nd grade. This person was the FIRST first grade classmate who spoke to me on the first day of school, this person would sit next to me on the first day of school and continue to do so everyday the next couple of years, and this person and I would do everything together in the first grade, from artwork to singing to playing during recess to actually holding hands at different times when we were walking to different activities. I wouldn’t even hold Deyavor’s hand back then, so this was different, in more ways than one. Her name was Joanna. Joanna Rodgers. And she was white. And she was my best friend in the first grade and in the whole wide world back then.
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The three water towers in Longview back in the day