This and that


I note with interest that I graduated from eighth grade this month just 71 years ago. The exact date was Thursday, January 30, 1947. The mean ol’ principal was Miss Bessie Householder and the building, Firestone Park Grade School, was probably 50 years old then. Yes, it’s still there and I understand still in use.

There was no lunch room and everyone either had to live close enough to walk home and back, which I did, or bring your lunch each day. That meant the teachers had to take turns sitting in one room with these kids. On the occasion that my mom would take a bus, which was close by, into town to shop, my sister and I would take our lunch. I remember that whoever the teacher-sitter was would loudly complain about being inconvenienced that day for their sitter duties.

Obviously I also graduated four years later in January, 1952 from Garfield High School, named for the president. I still have both graduation programs and I see that 17 of us us in grade school also graduated from high school together. The president and secretary officers in grade school married right after high school and the vice president in grade school was the first one to die right after high school.

My birthday is in December and I guess that’s why I started school in January. I can only assume these classmates also had birthdays early in the year.
When we were sophomores, Akron, Ohio declared no more January graduations and those behind us had to either go to summer school and get a half year ahead, or just fall a half year behind.

Since I still have both graduation programs, can you tell I love history?
School was easy for me and when I was a junior in high school I decided to goof off my senior year. In order to do this, I had to take a couple subjects in summer school. I sure don’t remember what I told my dad so he would pay for this but whatever it was – bless his heart – he bought it.

Well, there was one subject I was never good at and still am not good at, and that was mathematics. The only reason I got through algebra was it was taught by a retired soldier from World War II who was just teaching for something to do. When I signed up for geometry the school counselors tried to talk me out of it but I took the smart-ass attitude that they didn’t know what they were talking about. And yes, I flunked it.

When we were about to enter our senior year I was elected class secretary. Our beloved principal, Mr. Ladd, cornered me in the hallway one day and as touchingly as he could, let me know I couldn’t be elected an officer because I had funked a subject.
This was the first of several thousand lessons in life I would learn.

My grades otherwise though, were very good and so I got to make a speech at graduation. I believe it was on the public educational system in Germany that was back in full force after World War II. It was fascinating to listen to, I’m sure.