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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

4th Grade

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/15/2024
Occurred: 9/6/1960
Posted: 9/14/2022
Page Views: 642
Topics: #Autobiography #Education
I begin my second year in the 3-grade schoolroom.
School:East Concord Elementary
Teacher:Mrs. Gwen Howe
Mrs Howe

When I returned to school in the fall, my teacher was, again, Mrs. Howe. That's because she taught, and the room held, third, fourth, and fifth grades. She would teach the third graders something, then have them work on something while she taught the fourth graders, and so on. This was actually kind of ideal for my ADD (undiagnosed, but easy to recognize) as I never had to think about the same thing for very long.

Our school did also have sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, in the upstairs classroom. But this year, into the fifth grade section, there was a boy in my classroom named Raymond who was much bigger than the other kids. I was in fourth grade and he was in fifth but he was bigger than the other fifth graders, as well. I learned that he had been "held back" a couple of years. This was the first time I had heard of such a thing as other than a vague threat. Raymond was surly, a thundercloud of a boy with thick black hair. Since he was in fifth grade and played with the seventh graders during recess, I didn't see much of him or really get to know him.

Several years later, when I had moved to Florida and joined Boy Scouts and thus had a subscription to Boy's Life magazine, I stumbled on Raymond's name in print. It seems he was a Boy Scout, and had saved some kid from drowning in Miles Pond by using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The story was told in comic strip format, in a feature Boy's Life ran each month demonstrating the usefulness of Scouting skills.

But the drawing of Raymond MacPherson in the comic strip portrayed him as a freckled redhead who looked nothing whatsoever like the real Raymond MacPherson at all. That may have been my first inkling that the media can't be trusted to accurately render every detail of a story.


The Kennedy/Nixon debate.

The big excitement in school in November, 1960, was the upcoming Presidential election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Being Catholic, we were well aware that Kennedy would be only the second Catholic candidate for President ever (Al Smith was the first) and the first with a good shot at winning. Vermont, on the other hand, was at that time what we would today call a "red" state. So when we had a mock election at school, Nixon trounced Kennedy soundly. I assumed that, as Vermont went, so went the nation; so I was very surprised when Kennedy won, albeit in the closest election up to that time.

Winter Interlude

Us with the Valentine kids.

As November marched on, the days grew shorter and much colder. As we had the previous winter, Mom sent the livestock (including Wrags) to the farm belonging to Mrs. Bishop, a friend in Granby's; closed up the house; and moved us into the warmer and more accessible confines of Val's Motel. This time Mom managed to not catch pneumonia, and we were able to visit Gramma and Grampa each weekend. I renewed my friendship with Mike Valentine; Bobby and Debby resumed inviting themselves to dinner; and life went on.

The most interesting thing that winter was when the Valentines decided to take a family vacation, and left Mom and Gloria in charge of the motel. They closed the restaurant, but people came and went from the motel and Mom checked them in and helped Gloria clean the rooms afterwards. We kids slept in the Valentine kids' rooms and played with their toys. This interlude lasted only a week or so; then we were back in our apartment.

Christmas that year began with presents, of course; but included a visit to Gramma and Grampa's, where there were more presents on the floor beneath their miniature, hand-made tree. It was our second Christmas at Val's Motel; our second winter there, too; and we knew we would return to the house in Victory, which we had grown to love, in the Spring. I was beginning to become conscious of the rhythms of life, and to be comfortable with them.