Our First Grade Rebellion That Mrs. Wade Never Knew About
Intro to The Past
where you will see me frantic and unhinged in the first grade. Let me explain. If you have a decent memory, then you will remember just how scared you were when your parents introduced you to the first grade teacher and her students which would turn out to be (some) of your friends.
The first grade, in all probability, should be fun, happy, and an overall joyous experience. Not my first year. Not even close. My dad introduced me to my teacher, Mrs. Ann Wade, a very proper lady with the manners of pure sophistication. Even how she sat at her desk was proper and she even had an educated look. So I was at ease right off and when I sat in my desk, I felt at ease.
The first day of the first day of my 12 years of school began in 1961. The day started off hot as all days in August are, but soon I would learn of just how scary and dangerous my first grade was going to be in a very short time.
I have never confessed the facts in this piece to Mrs. Wade. I would bet you a solid $300 cash that she is not living. Rest her soul. But I can tell you that she was not taken to Heaven because she was stressed. To show you just how primitive our first grade was, we did not have any words such as ‘stress,‘ ‘rioting‘ and ‘burn out.‘ Primitive is not the word.
In a Few Short Weeks
I kept low and didn‘t try to get Mrs. Wade (or the students) to notice me. I loved obscurity. Nothing suited me more than to be in the dark and totally unknown to those around me. I really didn‘t have work at this location in Wade‘s classroom because I sat on the row that was near the blackboard and so far from the teacher, we could whisper and Wade was never the wiser.
For the most part, things started to be told to us how certain things like a clock works, how fish eat, and why we were told by Wade to never close our eyes while she was talking. Simple enough. I made it my business to let her see me with both eyes open—thinking that she would like me more than anyone. Now folks, I will share a foolish thought with you: me thinking that Mrs. Wade like me more than anyone in the class was the most-idiotic thought a first-grader could have.
I had trouble learning how to tell time. But Mrs. Wade was pretty patient with us and she was pretty slick in telling me the difference between the long and short hands on a clock. I also recall how the rest of the students would let out a loud roar of unbridled laughter when I would mess-up and get the time wrong. The class was always in a festive mood especially when I was struggling with how to tell time.
Then The Day Came
that began like all of the previous days and I was set and ready to get on my bus and ready for another festive day in the first grade.
One thing, (now all of you first-graders pay close attention) you had to know about my teacher and that was her being able to be in charge of us no matter if the class numbered 22 or 8. I never got to ask her what college she attended because in the years to come, I found myself impressed as I could be with Mrs. Wade and how she passed along several life-lessons to us. By the way, we never had such a thing as “life lesson“ in 1961.
The day came when our school principal, (a) Mrs. Lucille Mixon, aka/“Dragon Lady,“ came across the P.A. speaker located at the top of the classroom and after clearing her throat, she announced that a reptile show would be held at 1 p.m. for all children to enjoy a professional snake farmer and if we each had a quarter, we could file quietly into our gymnasium and sit there and watch the guy who knew all about snakes.
Not me. My parents didn‘t allow me to have a weekly allowance, so I had to stay in Wade‘s classroom with the other financially-challenged kids and just sit there until Wade and the “chosen few“ led the students (with their quarter) to the gym while we just sat in our desks.
Well, not so much as sitting, thanks to my buddy, Chip Wood.
Chip was a hefty kid with a big smile on his face and he loved to throw things at the rest of us—pencils, candy, and even an eraser that he had copped from the blackboard. Chip could start any amount of trouble and laugh like a hyena while Mrs. Wade did her best to lecture him on the evils of being rowdy and he would laugh even louder the more she spoke—but in all of his trouble-making, he never received a boarding. (when the teacher takes a piece of wood and paddles the student‘s back end.
Mrs. Wade and Students With Quarters
marched from our classroom and we sat (for about five minutes) to just make sure that Mrs. Wade had not walked back to spy on us to see who was really the trouble-makers and who wasn‘t.
Wood, with a sly look on his face, said to the rest of us: “let‘s play Army! Okay?“ Now with Wood and playing Army were two forces ready to collide. He stood up and took his book satchel and before we knew it, he began to pelt us with the small pieces of chalk. When chalk was hurled my direction, I just ducked and kept my head held toward the wooden floor.
Then with the talent of an Olympic javelin thrower, Chip took out his sharper pencils that he must have saved for this one event. And with a laugh like that of Chris Cringle, he let go a handful of pencils and hit two of the students, but no real harm was done. I have to admit that Chip never was a studious kid because he never bothered to pick up those long, yellow No. 2 pencils and I stole one without him knowing it. Chip, if you are reading this, I am sorry.
But The Mystery Continued
when Chip had gotten his share of Army and was going after more fun. “hey! You come up here and help me,“ Chip said. “I will be the look-out and you see what Mrs. Wade keeps under her desk. Now crawl on in there while I look for her.“
My mouth flew open. So did Chip‘s. So did Roland Harris and I forget the girl‘s name, but she was as brave as we were. We just could not believe what Mrs. Wade had in her cache which involved four pairs of shoes, nice ones, and six containers of Play-Doh, and I do not have to tell you what this one thing meant.
Chip‘s eyes began to twinkle. In a lightning-like flash, he grabbed a container and with one fluid motion, he opened the container and began to roll the Play-Doh into little balls which he named Hand Grenades. He was quite talented when he would throw the pieces of clay and then laugh as loud as he could. So would we.
And in closing I have to tell you that Chip might have been the worst student in first grade, but he was my friend. He even had a talent of knowing what was coming up next as he told us to put the Play-Doh back underneath Wade‘s desk because it was time for her and the paying students to come back into the room.
He was 100% right.
Mrs. Wade instructed us to stay in our desks while the buses were driving up. And we, the financially-challenged, spent the rest of the time smiling.
Just smiling. Yeah, right.
January 17, 2019__________________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery