Monday, October 1, 2007

Personal History questions - School Memories

Juliana Smith's 24/7 Family History Circle blog is providing regular prompts - 5 questions - for writing your personal history during Family History Month. This will be weekly during October.

In an effort to set down some personal history for my posterity, I'm going to give it a try. Five questions don't seem too hard - let's see what happens.

The first questions concern school memories:

1) What was your favorite subject in school?

MATHEMATICS. Fingers, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, fractions, algebra, trigonometry, logarithms, calculus, differential equations. I entered San Diego State as a Mathematics major, but quickly changed to Aerospace Engineering when I realized that teaching was one of the only jobs available for Math majors - this was before computers, of course.

2) In what extra-curricular activities did you participate? Sports? Drama? Music? Academics?

SAFETY PATROL. I was a Private (4th grade), Sergeant (5th Grade) and Supply Sergeant (6th grade) at the corner of 30th and Ash Streets in San Diego from 1953 to 1957. Supply Sergeant was second-in-command to the Lieutenant and got to do all the jobs delegated to him. The red sweater, white pants and gold caps were cool. On Saturdays, the Police Department sponsored movies at the Fox Theater downtown - we saw lots of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, etc. No Annette Funicello, though - too bad.

Sports? I couldn't hit a baseball, see over the butt of the center in football, came up to my friend's armpit in basketball, and soccer wasn't invented yet. My buddy Paul and I excelled in handball because we were closer to the floor than the other players. Drama - are you kidding? Meet Mr. Stage-Fright. Music - I sing in the key of J-Sharp, I'm told...'nuff said. Academics - we didn't have an Academic Bowl team then - and then there was the stage fright issue, which also hampered my dating prospects.

The school activity that I tried to avoid was after-school or evening dances. I was really into the music (1956-1961) and still am, but dancing was something I never physically mastered and was always leery of participating in. I was Mr. Wallflower all through Junior and Senior High School.

In high school, I ended up after school in the library in downtown San Diego. I could walk from school, and then safely take the bus home hours later. I would do homework research there, read current magazines and newspapers, and search for the "good" books in the fiction section. I learned a lot there! I never went in the genealogy room, though - unfortunately! (Heck, I could be all done with my family history if I'd only started 30 years earlier - right?)

3) Did you go on field trips, and if so, what was your most memorable field trip?
I don't remember field trips in elementary school. I was on the school baseball team (right field, end-of-the-bench, scorekeeper, cheerleader, first-base coach) in elementary school and we traveled to play other teams on Saturdays.

San Diego schools sponsored a 6th grade camp back in the 1950's - a week in the Cuyamaca mountains with counselors and your classmates. This was up near Julian at about 4,000 feet altitude in the spring - so it could be warm, cold, rainy or somewhere in between. There were hiking trails, streams and pools of water, and big rocks, and even some wildlife - squirrels, raccoons, lizards, birds, spiders, etc. We never saw the snakes, skunks, and cougars that were probably out there. For a "big city" kid, this was pretty exciting (which is why they did it). Sleeping in sleeping bags on bunks, sitting around the campfire at night, crafts and physical activities were all part of the curriculum. I remember - vividly! - the physical challenges - rope bridge across a small canyon, the tree-climbing, etc. I wasn't in the Scouts, so this was really my first time in the woods like this. In the summer time after 6th grade, there was a Safety Patrol Camp on Mount Palomar with much the same activity - except it was run by the police department, which was pretty cool.

4) What teacher influenced you the most?

The ones in elementary school were Miss Williams (4th grade), Mr. de la Torre (5th grade) and Mr. Wragg (6th grade). They each encouraged individual responsibility and reaching your potential. Because of them I advanced into mathematics, history, geography and writing far beyond the curriculum. I also learned that "all people are created equal" and saw it in the accomplishments of these teachers. Mr. Wragg was shot and killed by a student sniper back in the 1970's here in San Diego. He was a school principal then and was shepherding students to safety when he was shot.

I remember only two high school teachers clearly - my math teacher was Mrs. Johnsie Posey (what a southern accent - a novelty in San Diego) and she really pushed us in high school math courses - trigonometry, geometry and calculus. But we got it - she made math fun. It prepared me very well for college, and she was like a professor. My chemistry teacher was an older fellow named J.O. Peterson (I still don't know his given names!) and what I remember from this class was that half the students were trying to make explosions in the classroom and Mr. Peterson was oblivious to it. I always tried to take the lab area furthest away from the experimenters! One of my best friends, Steve Johnson, could mimic J.O's speech perfectly and we would always be laughing in class.

5) Did you buy a lunch at school, or bring one from home? What kind of lunchbox? What was your favorite lunch?

What an unexpected question! I always brought a lunch from home. Always in a paper bag - no lunchbox ever. Invariably, it was a sandwich (either peanut butter or baloney) on white bread with butter, cookies or chips, and an apple. My mother made the lunch every night. The cost was minimal compared to buying it at school.

I was surprised they didn't ask about best friends, how we got to school, best moments, worst moments, dating, etc. Maybe I'll post about those issues later this week.

I encourage other genea-bloggers to share their lives in this way. Then make sure that your kids and grandkids know where to find it!

UPDATED 10/1, 1:45 PM: I remembered more stuff, and added it to the above.


Terry Thornton said...

Randy, I enjoyed your personal history so much --- and feel that I know you so much better than before reading. Thanks! And you've inspired me to follow Juliana Smith's prompts --- will give it a try at Hill Country.
Terry Thornton
Hill Country of Monroe County, Mississippi

Katy said...

Lunch sack we got at local grocery and miscellaneous store..where it seemed one could go visit on Friday or Sat night. Peanut butter the staple then. Fruit jellies with summer harvest as we lived on an orchard farm.

Walked 3 miles to school and often didn't have socks on our feet or gloves to wear.
My brother was the one to get the school fire going and he put a dead owl he found enroute to school one day in the furnace..a pot bellied big round thing that had an outer jacket around it to keep us from being burned. School was dismissed that day when the teacher arrived and the stench was too great to have school.

We had ballgames and school chants of "Red Hot yellow Banana. I'm from Sullivan Indiana. that's a lie that's a bluff. I'm from Brush Creek that's the stuff."

Mom used to go into Oblong, IL and have our wheat ground for flour and I got to tag along.

In 1953 Brush Creek School closed. Recently we went by and the school was still standing. The homeplace has been remodeled to make it warmer for the winter. Our old table and buffet were still in use in the home.
The yard seems so much smalller now than when we lived there. The tree we used to call Twig and Tway is still standing too and the building where we kept all our canned goods.
We used to have a motorized washer that mom put fuel in and we would kick start that to do the laundry at home.
We drew water from the cintern an heated it to do our laundry. We had a well out front for drinking water.

We had such a grand time living on this farm. We watched fireworks from the 2 story roof top many a year. We climbed trees but only Dad had a fit about that. Big ole barn we played in and chickens to tend and lots of fruit trees we loved.
Odd that the name of it was called Saxton Farm which I later learned was built by one of my ancestors on my father's side.
We moved several times but this place was home to us. The family who lives there allowed me to go in to see what they had done to it. Stovepipes thru the floor were our upstairs heat source for winter heat and feather ticks.

All of the trees that were in the front yard remain. The big orchard gone but the fruit trees by the house remain.
The old pear tree with a metal plate fixed over the limb that a storm took off still remains. Like us, it seems they want to help keep our memory alive.

Anonymous said...

My mother, Johnsie Jo Posey died on April 10, 2009 at the age of 89. She was so happy that you remembered her. Thank you. Lisle R. Posey