Do People Truly Never Forget How You Made Them Feel?
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.— Maya Angelou
Elementary, My Dear, Girl with the Crooked Smile
A Toothless Smile (Where's a Hairbrush?)
My Little Experiment via Elementary School Years
The other day I was thinking about my elementary school years. When I thought back from Kindergarten to the Sixth Grade, I was only able to remember certain memories. I thought of the famous quote referenced above by Maya Angelou.
These thoughts bring to my mind the question of whether certain memories are more vivid than others solely due to how others made us feel, or perhaps a mixture of the environment in which we were at the time, coupled with the people there.
As a result of these thoughts, I conducted my own little experiment based on my memories of elementary school years. As the decades have passed, I realize my memories are fewer than several decades ago. Therefore, it is plausible to note that these few memories I do have left lend themselves to either support or disprove Maya Angelou's quote.
I thought I'd approach the retelling of whatever memories I have of a certain school year by using internal dialogue in lieu of just writing what my memories were of a particular school year.
My Kindergarten Class at Eastway Elementary School
My Thoughts upon Arriving at My Kindergarten Class
I hope Mama doesn't let go of my hand. I don't want to go in there. There's too much noise. The lights are so bright. Where did all of these little kids come from and who are they? Oh, there's Jimmy Johnson and Andy McCook from my neighborhood. Yuck!
Who is that lady coming over here? She talks soft and is nice. I guess I can go in for a little bit. Maybe it will be okay to let go of Mama's hand.
What do I do now? There are so many toys. I do like that big pink stove.
Oh, good, it's time for milk and a snack. These are big tables. I like those pictures on the wall. Wow, those are the biggest windows I've ever seen. I think I will just look out the windows.
Oh, boy, it's time to go out to the playground and swing. Wait! I can't go down that big hill to get to the swings. No, no, no! I'm too scared.
Fast Forward to the School Fall Festival
I hope I win that big chocolate cake. The music is starting. Around and around we go in this big circle. Oh, the music stopped. I won? Yippie, I can't wait to get home to eat this yummy chocolate cake! There's Mama smiling at me. I know she loves chocolate too.
Obviously, whatever my Kindergarten teacher said to me made me feel less apprehensive about entering the classroom.
First Grade - Wynnton Academy
Taking the School Bus Across Town
Wynnton Arts Academy, formerly named Wynnton Academy, according to Muscogee County records, is the oldest continuously used school in Georgia, and among the oldest in the country. I was bused all the way across town in the First Grade, despite the fact Eastway Elementary school is located not too far from my then neighborhood. Wynnton Academy is located in the historic part of my home town. I can't complain though, for I was blessed to attend such a fine school. Sadly, however, the historic Wynnton area is now remembered for the brutal murders of elderly women in the late 70s by "The Stocking Strangler."
First Day Memories - That's all I Have
I'm glad I get to sit right next to this window. That tree is so big with giant white flowers on it. Even the leaves are so big and shiny. It's so shady here. I like this big white building.
Huh, what? Oh, no, what did the teacher ask me? Um, I'll just start singing that silly song too ...
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
Boop boop dit-tem dat-tem what-tem Chu!
And they swam and they swam all over the dam.
Apparently, I felt humiliated by not paying attention to what was going on in the classroom due to my fascination with the building's architecture, which is unusual for such a young child. Oddly enough, I have no memories of First Grade except that first day.
The worst school year during my elementary school days.
Wesley Heights Elementary School
First Day of School
My brother is only one year younger than I am. He was a bit of a runt growing up, until he hit the high school years, and then finally sprouted up tall.
The sun was shining in our eyes on that first day of school.
My Second Grade Teacher, The Wicked Witch of the South
I don't want to go to school today. Maybe if I tell Mama I have another stomach ache she will let me stay home again.
Oh, no, here comes that mean ole witch of a teacher. Why is she so mean? I know she will make the children cry again today, but not me, I will never cry! I wonder if she is the Wicked Witch of the West's sister. Wow, her black witch hair is sure high up on top of her head. Maybe a crow lives in there. Her eyes are mean looking too. Hmm, her face is not green like her sister's face though. Well, I guess she's really not ugly like a witch, even if she is real bony looking. And I don't see a broom anywhere.
Why does she like to make us all feel bad and stupid? Oh, no, poor Cyndi is going to cry again. I'm so sad for all of my friends here in this classroom. I wish I could just cover my ears so I don't have to hear all of the mean talk and crying all day long.
Those big words she is wanting us to learn to spell are almost as long as the alphabet! Does she think we are big kids in the older kids' grades? I don't think those words are even real words. Eeks, the Wicked Witch of the South is raising that one eyebrow at me!
Our Three-Legged Dog Brownie would Follow Us to this School
- Ode to Our Three-Legged Dog
This Ode is written from true accounts of my childhood about a three-legged yellow lab who adopted us as his family.
One Precious Memory
The bell rang! It's time to go home. I hope Brownie is okay. He is the best dog ever to wait for us all day long on the playground under that big tree. There he is! What a good boy. I sure hope Eddie hurries up and comes so we can get out of here before that wicked witch gets us and our dog too!
Sadly, as relates to my Second Grade school year experiences, this little experiment does validate that my memories are based solely on how the teacher made me feel by the words she used. Although I don't remember any specific words she said, I will always remember how she made me feel. I have no doubt that every other child remembers how she made them feel too. I'm glad I don't recall her name.
The best school year during my elementary school days!
Finally, a Teacher to Love
I can't wait to get to school today! I feel so safe around Mrs. Jackson. I love her hugs. She smells like warm cookies and cocoa. Mrs. Jackson is the best teacher ever! I like listening to her kind voice. Mrs. Jackson has to be one of the smartest people on the whole planet. I can't wait to get home and tell Mama what I learned today. Learning is so much fun because of Mrs. Jackson.
I wonder how old Mrs. Jackson is because her hair is all gray. I bet Mrs. Jackson is the best grandmother too, if she is one. I never thought I would be almost as tall as a grown up. Mrs. Jackson is so tiny.
I wish Mrs. Jackson could be my teacher every year.
A Funny Little Song
I have no idea where dear Mrs. Jackson came up with the following silly song, but we all loved it. I did a search for it on the Internet, but of course, it was to no avail. Maybe it was a song she made up or maybe she married a garbage man.
My man's a garbage man;
He cleans the garbage cans.
He smells like garbage too,
Phew, I say he do.
Some day in future life,
I'm going to be his wife ...
How in the world did you find that out?
He asked me to!— Mrs. Jackson
I do not recall ever having Michael in any of my future grades in school. However, I just know in my heart he turned out to be a good man in this life. Thank you for being you, Michael!
Third Grade just Kept Getting Better
I don't feel like running this 50 yard dash race. My side always gets that sharp pain in it and then it's hard for me to breathe.
What? Who's calling my name? Oh, it's that boy Michael with the nice brown hair and pretty blue eyes. He has a nice smile too. What is he saying to me? Oh, he's wanting me to win the race! Gosh, I will try my best. Oh, no, the race is about to start. I hope I can run fast today. He is still calling my name! Why is my heart fluttering? Why is he smiling at me and being nice? I feel special.
On your mark, get set, go! Oh, boy, I am winning so far ...but wait, who is that coming up behind me? Almost there! Ouch; there's that bad pain in my side. Oh, no, that other girl beat me! I'm so embarrassed. I can't look at Michael. Huh? Michael is still clapping for me. Maybe I can look at him. He's still smiling at me and saying something nice. My face feels hot.
Thankfully, Third Grade proved to support Maya's quote, in that my memories of dear Mrs. Jackson and Michael proved to hold true as to remembering just how these amazing persons made me feel, although I do not recall specifically what they said to me.
Back to Wesley Heights Elementary School
Arithmetic is what We Called Math back in the Day
No Plaid this Time - Wow, Red? (Still Crooked Bangs and Crooked Smile Though)
I'm so confused. Where is the next classroom I'm supposed to go to now? I'm so late for this class. It is too crowded. I can't barely get inside! Why does that boy keep pulling on that girl's braids? He is mean. I don't like this classroom.
It's too hot to go out to that huge dirt football field with no trees or anything for shade. Hmm, potato sack races ...maybe that will be fun. I miss Michael from Third Grade.
Oh, gosh, all of these kids are talking about Nixon and whether he will be President. They sound like parents talking. Boring!
Why are only girls going into the cafeteria to watch a film? What is this all about? That is the most disgusting thing I've ever heard of in my life! I don't want that to happen to me! Right now, I really do not care to know of all of this stuff that's going to happen to my body. I'm just a little girl.
Obviously, Fourth Grade was a strange year for me, more so about the circumstances than anyone leaving any type of impression on me as far as how they made me feel. It seems it was a transitional year for me with a lot of growing pains.
Holds a lot of Memories for Me
A Castle or a School
Boy, this sure is a long bus ride to another school I've never been to before. I don't even know what part of town I'm in!
Is this the school? Wow, it's as big as a castle! Whew, it's hot inside this school. Look at all those giant wooden stairs inside. Gosh, we have to walk up and down these all day long. How many stories are there in this school? Let's see ...one, two, three, four! Oh, there's one underground too. Wow, five stories tall! Cool.
What is this rickety thing? Oh, must be some sort of elevator. I think only teachers are supposed to go on it. I'm really not sure I want to go on that thing. Well, here goes nothing. Where am I now? Oh, there's my English classroom.
Happiness is Singing a fun Song
Wonder why the music teacher is wearing dark sunglasses inside? Wow, he sure can play the piano! I love singing songs and hearing the piano. Music is my favorite class, well, besides reading and art.
Aw, he is a blind teacher. I've never known of a blind person before. How does he know where to go? That cane seems to help him to get around pretty good. I know, I will close my eyes to see how it feels. Oh, it must be so hard to not be able to see all the pretty things like the blue sky, trees, green grass, flowers and your Mama's face. I would want to know how to play music too if I were blind. I think that would make me so happy.
I love that song, "Zippety, Do Dah" because it makes me happy and smile a lot thinking about a blue bird on my shoulder.
Adventures with Sam
Hooray, it's time to go back to my homeroom class and listen to Mrs. Nix read that wonderful book she picked out, "My Side of the Mountain." I'm glad we are allowed to rest our heads on our desks while Mrs. Nix is reading to us. I wonder what adventure Sam will be up to today! Turtle soup? Oh, I can't think about having to make turtle soup and then eat it. Gulp ...
Enjoying the Adventures of Pippi
Yay, it's time for English and Reading! I'm so happy my teacher told me about Pippi Longstocking. She sure stands up for herself and she is kind of like me, real skinny and awkward looking, but still cool in her own way.
What is that thing in the middle of the classroom? Hmm. Oh, we have to be weighed for some reason. Well, I already know I am too skinny and tall. God made my legs so long. Oh, it's my turn. Why is Mrs. Nix looking funny at the other teacher in the room? I guess I do not weigh what she thinks I should weigh. I feel ashamed now ...
Puppy Love in the Fifth Grade
There's that cute boy, Alvin Lang. He has such nice hair, a big smile and is just so cool. His name is so different than everybody else's. Why is he coming over to me? Oh, he is asking me about my last name. Wow, he actually noticed that my last name is close to his first name, except for one letter! He is smiling at me now. I feel like skipping down the sidewalk.
Time for Softball
I'm glad I'm way out here in the outfield because surely no one will hit the ball way out here.
First batter up ...what? Wow, that ball is coming right at me way out here! Oh, oh, no, where did it go? I can't see it. The sun is in my eyes. Oh, there it is! I'm scared, but I will try my best to catch the ball. Oops, it bounced on the ground way in front of me so high ...
Ouch ...what happened? My forehead is hurting. I'm so dizzy. Why is everyone running towards me? I need to sit down ...Oh, I'm so embarrassed. I can't believe I let that ball smack me in the middle of my forehead. Now, no one is going to want me on their team.
Fifth Grade offered an interesting environment, situations and a lot of new interesting people with whom to interact. I believe Maya's quote holds true as relates to my Fifth Grade school year and how both Mrs. Nix and Alvin Lang made me feel, but with dramatically different feelings.
Back to Eastway Elementary School -
Where I attended Kindergarten
Poor Craig and his little brother. I don't know if I'm going to be able to look at Craig today in that lunchroom celebration. I wonder if he even wants to come back to school right at the end of the school year? I hate that bad man for running over Craig and his little brother! I hate him! Why, why, why did that bad man try to drive his truck when he was drunk? It was not an accident. They were just riding their bicycles on the side of the road and he ran over them and didn't even stop! He just kept dragging them under his truck for a long time. I feel like I might throw up.
I wonder if Craig lived because he is so short? I wish that dumb man never got into that truck that day. I'm so scared now when I walk home and have to walk through that long place on Buena Vista Road where they were hurt. I will always know to watch out for cars though.
It's time to go to the lunchroom. I am not going to stare at Craig. I wonder if they had to shave off all of that blond hair. I remember Craig has big blue eyes. The teacher said Craig has a lot of scars on his face which does not matter to me at all. I just hope Craig knows how much we all love him and hope he feels better now and can be happy somehow. Maybe God erased that bad day from Craig's mind. I think I will just sit here in the back of the lunchroom. Wow, there are a lot of people here. Oh, Craig is turning around in his seat? He is looking at me straight in my eyes. His eyes are so sad. I am not going to turn away because I don't want him to think I think he looks ugly with all those scars on his face. He just keeps on looking at me without turning away. I hope he can tell I don't care about those scars on his face. Where did everyone else go? Oh, they're still here, I think. Ahh, Craig smiled at me and turned around! Whew ...
Love of Poetry
I wonder what poem we will be reading today! I really love reading William Woodsworth's poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," and studying Robert Frost's poems, "The Road not Taken" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and Edgar Alan Poe's poem, "The Raven"!
I will have to be sure to tell Mama that we are studying a lot of the poems she recited to us growing up! I think that will make her smile.
In Memory of Clifford Gainous
Sadly, that boy in my class, Clifford Gainous, who tried to give me a love note, was killed during a robbery at the age of 16 while working at Pritchett's Kitchenette on Buena Vista Road. The robber shot him in cold blood. The case is still unsolved.
I'm sorry, Clifford, for not reading your love note to me in Sixth Grade. Maybe I will see you again one day, and you can tell me what you wrote to me.
Check Yes or No
Huh? I hope that boy does not thump that little football note to me! Oh, no ...He did! I don't want to read what he wrote to me. My face feels so hot. I know; I will just thump it back to him. Yes, good idea! I don't want to hurt his feelings or anything, but he is embarrassing me to death by doing that right here in class.
He did it again! What do I do now? I will just send it right back to him. Oh, now he thinks it's funny and he wants to keep playing. Oops, here comes the teacher!
Oh, no, the teacher has the note. I hope she doesn't read it!
Football-Shaped Love Notes
Did you receive any love notes in school shaped like a tiny football?
Time for the Science Fair
What Happened to my Science Project?
I worked so hard on my science project for the Science Fair this year. I can't wait to see what place I am in!
Hmm, that's weird; I don't see my project anywhere in this cafeteria! What happened to it? I'm so upset. Why doesn't anyone know where it is?
Wait a minute ...there it is! Whose name is on it? That's my project! That person stole my project!!!
Sixth Grade was an emotional roller coaster of a ride with all that was going on from the reality of a drunk driver almost killing my classmate and his brother, and then the receipt, or attempt of receipt, of love notes, and finally with my science project being stolen and not one person in authority at the school coming to my defense. I felt a wide-range of emotions from great sadness, empathy, embarrassment, and disappointment.
I'm Sorry I made You feel left Out
Unrelated to my Elementary School years ...
I made my sister feel left out.
Just a couple of years ago, my middle sister came to visit with us. We were looking through old photos and we came upon this particular photo to the right here. I remember feeling happy about the puppies.
I asked my sister did she remember that day or was she too young to remember. She remembered, and what she remembered made me feel so sad for her and a huge pang stabbed my heart. She told me she remembered that we wouldn't let her hold a puppy. I was shocked to hear that from her, and I told her I was so sorry for not allowing her to hold a puppy and making her feel left out that day.
It's amazing the feelings photographs can bring out. A particular day or event may have long since left our mind, but the moment we see that photograph, whatever feelings we were feeling all come flooding back.
Please take a moment to answer the Poll
Think hard about your memories of elementary school years. What do you remember most?
Ask Yourself this Question
When someone thinks of me, how will their memory of me make them feel?
If You don't like Your Answer to the Question
Oops ...don't fret, just make new memories with them, if at all possible. It's never too late to change one's heart when interacting with others.