1950 - 60s
|Andrea's grandmother, Anne T., Lauren's grandmother,
Lillian and Corinna's grandmother, Kathryn H., all attended elementary school
during the late 1930's, but in different parts of the country. Andrea's
grandmother went to a small neighborhood schoool in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
called Hillstreet School. Hillstreet School is no longer open, but
the high school she attended (Grand Army of the Republic High School), which
opened in 1924, when high school included grades 7-12, is still running today.
Lauren's grandmother attended Washington School in Sheboygan,
Wisconsin. Corinna's grandmother first went to school in 1936 at
Leavenworth Elementary School in Kansas.
Elementary school generally included kindergarten through
6th grade and the school day went from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. with the
kindergartners only going half-day. Everyone got to and from school, not
by buses or cars, but by walking. At school the girls dressed in dresses
or skirts with blouses. Boys dressed in shorts or knickers. Neither girls
nor boys ever went in jeans! Class size ranged from 15-18 (Wilkes-Barre,
PA.) to 20 to 25 students (Leavenworth, KS.) to 25-30 (Sheboygan, WI) with
a different teacher each year. There were no combination classes that the
grandmothers could recall. When a child was bad, instead of being spanked,
they would either be sent to the principal's office or sent outside. Sometimes
they had to write things over and over, like 100 times in a row! Subjects
included math, English or spelling, art, civics and geography and sometimes
sewing. They couldn't remember having any fieldtrips or any educational
activities outside of the classroom in the elementary years. The children
also didn't keep any class pets in their classroom.
The school building was red brick with each classroom
decorated with the alphabet, artwork, writing samples and fall leaves. For
writing materials, the children used inkwells, pencils, Prang paint boxes
and colored chalk, but no colored pencils.
Their desks were in long rows of five and were attached to the
writing desk behind them as well as to the floor. There were no children
with wheelchairs at Corinna's grandmother's school because it was a two-story
building and they had no special classes for children with learning disabilities.
They might have had some people on crutches, though. At lunch time there
wasn't a cafeteria or lunchroom because kids walked home for lunch and then
came back to school.
In Leavenworth, each kid had to buy their own textbooks
each year that were very expensive ranging from 20 to 30 dollars. On report
cards, some schools graded with A, B, C, D or F and on tests percentages
were used, with failure at 75% or below. Others used words like "excellent",
"good", and "fair". Like we do today, they had homework and very involved
projects to do at home, such as 3-D maps. Parents went to PTA meetings often
but the parents didn't come into the classroom or onto the playground to
help or volunteer.
On the playground the children played ball games and
had swings, slides and a pole with a rope hanging off of it for kids to swing
around. The girls played hopscotch or jump rope and the boys played marbles
Andrea's grandmother remembers that in those days,
not everybody went to school. Only those who were fortunate not to
have to work or to help their parents were able to go to school.
Lauren's gandmother worst memory was when her music teacher
had everyone to stand up to sing, but then pointed at her and told her to
sit down and "don't sing." Her best memory was graduating!
Corinna's grandmother's fondest memories of those days
is that every day in kindergarten, the children would take naps on their
private rugs and rest for 20 to 30 minutes. She would always sleep next to
a boy named Ormond with whom she later graduated high school! Since she was
one of the best pianists at school, another one of her fondest memories is
being chosen to play the song "God Bless America" on the piano in the hall
while her 6th grade class sang along in the classroom. Her worst memory is
how her mom cut her hair, short with a straight cut and sometimes with a
ponytail on the side. Andrea's grandmother remembers the teachers as being
strict, but very fair. Her fondest memory of grade school was learning
new things and being with the other kids. Her worst memories were of when
she was sick and had to stay home from school.