Saturday, September 6, 2008

School Days - Part 2

Well the kids are back in school. The malls are quieter, but the buses are nosier in the mornings and the afternoon - so much for catching 40 winks on the way to/from work!

When I was a kid I rode a bus to school every day from Grade 1 through Grade 7. We didn't have kindergarten when I started school back in the early 1960's! My parents lived only 9 miles from town, but the various school bus routes zigzagged along a number of country roads in order to pick us all up. The first couple of years it was actually a van rather than a bus. There were benches on either side of the bus and a bench in the middle. This was the early 1960's - long before seat belts and other safety concerns. I think it was about a 30 minute ride each way.

By about grade 3 or 4 we had a new bus route and were actually riding a bus. The downside, was that I was pretty much at the end of the route, which meant that I had to be at the end of our lane at 7:55 and we got to school about 8:45 for elementary school and 8:50 for the high school. School was from 9:00 to 3:40. The bus would stop at the high school first, then come to the elementary. I didn't usually walk in the door at home until just past 4:30. That was a long day - and it felt even longer in the winter months when you walked in or out the lane by the glow of the yard light in the greys of dawn/dusk.

When I was going into grade 8 a number of things changed. Originally, the elementary was Grade 1-8 and the high school was 9-12. A couple of smaller towns within about 15 miles had also closed their schools and transferred most of their students to our schools. The elementary was now a K-6. The local high school had built a huge addition and was converted to a 7-12. That meant a huge influx of new students to the high school.

It was a little overwhelming to go from about 300 students to over 600! The other big change was that I didn't have to ride the bus anymore. The new school had built a home economics and industrial arts section to teach students life skills. My mom, who was an excellent cook and seamstress applied for and got a job as a teacher's assistant in the home ec. department. Her only stipulation was that she work in the opposite room to which I was in so that there would be no hint of favouritism. When I was in sewing, she was in foods and vice versa.

Having mom at the school could have been a little weird, but the place was big enough that we didn't see each other a lot and I only had home ec. for 1/2 day every 6 day cycle. Her hours were 8:30-4:30, so we only left home about 8:15. We often had errands to run after school, so it was usually 5:00 or even 5:30 before we got home. I was able to do most of my homework in the library before and after school and also spend more time with some of my friends who lived in town.

I never missed those long bus rides. Some of the roads were only dirt or had only a little gravel. They could get really muddy, slippery or icy and I was always afraid we'd go in the ditch. We did a few times over the years, but it was almost always on the way home from school and not on the way to - bummer! Mom and I only landed in the ditch once and that was on a patch of black ice on the highway about 2 miles from town. We ended up about 30 feet from the road facing the opposite direction. We weren't hurt - just badly shaken. We still went to school that day!

By the time I went into grade 10, mom was splitting her time between the home ec. department and doing some work in the main office. She did a lot of work with the old copy machines - most of which were hand cranked. She was also responsible for collecting the morning and afternoon attendance reports from all the home rooms (about 26), writing up and distributing the reports to all the teachers so they would know who was absent or skipping classes. Luckily, I wasn't the kind of kid who skipped out! She'd have known immediately!

Mom quit working at the school in June 1976. She has always told people we both left that June but that I was the only one who got the diploma!


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