Monthly Archives: May 2011

School Days 1st Through 8th

My earliest remembrances of school were either kindergarten or first grade.  I know that sounds strange and I really think it was kindergarten, but I’m just not sure.  I remember my class was in a basement.  I remember my teacher as a little old woman, but don’t recall one thing that was taught or her name.  I do think she was a nice lady though.

The name of the school was Brandon Elementary.  After my first year there, we were moved into a brand new school building.  It was state of the art.  The school was made up of two pods.  Each pod was round in shape and contained all of the classrooms side by side–without walls!  If you took a picture of it from the sky, it looked like 2 fried eggs.  Each classroom area had desks which contains “trays”.  They were more like tubs.  Each tray contained all of our books for the day.  Instead of lockers, we carried our books from class to class.  They had little roads set up for us to walk on.  That might have been fine, but none of us knew how to stay on our side of the road.  Trays were continually falling to the floor spilling our books.  It was an experiment in chaos.  As I remember, the school only went to the third grade.

Graduating to the fourth grade was scary because we had to go to a new place.  Weeden school went all the way through the 8th grade.  I was in “big” school now.  We had real lockers and a lunch room.  This is the school where I first started learning to play the drums.  I remember lots about my time at Weeden.  It was the first time I remember making things for my mom for Christmas.  We made stained glass figures of the star over Bethlehem (try that in today’s schools).  I made a sand candle for my mom too.  It was in the shape of a star.  That was all due to Mrs. Ricketts.  She taught fourth grade and was a master teacher and a great person.

Fifth grade brought me into contact with my favorite teacher to that moment in school–Mrs. Pardue.  She was gentle, funny, and a disciplinarian all rolled into one.  I remember that was the year I fell and broke my right arm.  I was right-handed and had to learn to write with my left for about six weeks.  She once told me that instead of an “A” she was going to give me an “E” for effort.  I got her a box of Lifesavers for Christmas that were in the shape of a book.  There were several different flavors.  I played what I thought was a funny trick on her one day.  I pretended to fall and hurt myself.  She did think it was too funny.

Sixth grade was taught by a new teacher, Mrs. Spencer.  She was the prettiest teacher I had ever seen.  I nearly got a paddling from her once, though, because I faked hitting a wall and falling to the ground.  She thought I was hurt, but I was really laughing.  Not funny to her.

Junior High (7-8) was the first time I ever felt some kind of superiority to other people.  To be in the junior high was just a skip from the really big school-high school.  There were really two teachers I remember in junior high.

Mrs. Price was the first.  She was our science teacher.  She had a mannequin in our class room that had all of the insides of a human body.  It was kind of creepy at first, but as we learned about the body, we could actually hold that part of it in our hand.  She said she didn’t know if it was a “her” or a “man,” so she called it “Herman.”  I thought that was cool.

Mr. Dawson was a crazy fun teacher.  I never had him in an actual class, but he was famous.  His claim to fame was eraser tossing.  That’s right!  If any of the students were ever caught talking or misbehaving, he would throw chalk erasers at them.  Kids would come out of class with big white chalk marks on their clothes.  It was funny.  Another form of punishment was hugging the telephone pole outside the junior high sing of the school.  He would send students outside to hug the pole as a way of embarrassing them.  The whole junior high would watch and laugh.  Doubt that would work today without a lawsuit.

This blog has gotten very lengthy so I’ll save high school for another time.


Musical Beginnings

Somehow, I started the fifth grade with the thoughts of beginning band.  I was somewhat athletic in the summer sports, but never felt compelled to be on a school team. I did not have a very good self esteem when it came to trying out for sports teams.  Yet, I felt like I could play music of some kind.  After all, I had grown up hearing my dad’s band, “Richard Davis and the Country Classics.”  My grandfather on my mom’s side played guitar, mandolin, and banjo.  My dad’s brothers played bass and guitar.  My uncle Ronnie was an exceptional picker.

Beginning band was awkward as I remember it.  They basically sat us down and asked us what we were interested in playing.  My first choice was drums, but I had determined that if they did not allow me to play drums, I’d try the trumpet.  If I remember correctly, we all had the opportunity to try any instrument we wanted to.  The teacher said that they really had enough drummers and asked if I’d try trumpet.  I told her that my first choice was drums and without any argument, she said that was ok.

I don’t know what it is about drummers and band directors, but when they get together (and the band director was not a former drummer) they mix like oil and water.  I learned very young that the drummers were, many times, left to themselves to learn due to the inability of the directors to put up with the “crazies” in the back.

But learn we did.  When I reached high school, I learned just how much I didn’t know.  When the music was issued for the marching band cadence, I had not a clue!  We met usually two weeks before the band did and started working on marching and music.  Our section leaders did the teaching–not the band director.  We would march and play so much that by sheer repetition, we memorized the cadence.  When the band got there two weeks later, we were ready to play.

I’m so thankful for those days.  They were the basis for a huge part of my life.  I go back there often in my memory.  I will write more later on musical parts of my life.