I rarely hear the term pupil anymore. At least as it applies to schoolchildren.
However, back in the olden days – the 1960s – I was a pupil. One of many pupils in my 5th grade class. A large class by today’s standards…after all we were the babyboomers. Schools would be scrambling to accommodate us for years to come.
Bizarre at it sounds, I still recognize those classmates – and can name almost all of them. Perhaps not always for the best reasons.
Fifth grade – when I turned 11 – remains sharp in my memory. There is Andy, twin brother of Ellen, who I had a mad crush on. Probably because he complimented me on my kickball skills at recess. Debby…whose house I visited to play games and sleep over. Patti Ann, Judy and Dianne…the mean girl trio who took turns making my life miserable. Except when they didn’t and I thought we were friends. Kathy…the girl who was taller than me…a rare occurrence. Johnny…whose science experiment once blew up. Meredith…bullied because she was overweight. Eric…the boy who I think had a crush on me…although I was as clueless as they came. So who knows.
The only dress code of sorts applied to girls. We had to wear dresses or skirts. Except on once-a-week gym days. My favorite day of the week…pants!…sneakers!
Boys could wear whatever they wanted. Neckties only came out on school picture day.
In addition to Math, Science, Reading, etc., we were also graded on Penmanship, Behavior and Effort. Girls had gym and health class separate from the boys. Often a pupil…like me…stood in front of her class and gave the Spelling tests. And missed Social Studies to correct them for the teacher.
I wonder what happened to those kids. Now in their 60’s. The mean girls do not look as mean as I remember. I see no angry faces…or narrowed eyes…or…evidence of what happened. I also look happier than I was. It’s an odd perspective.
My family moved to another town when I started sixth grade.
My Opa and Oma grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was aware of that from a very early age. We traveled many miles by car and by train to visit various relatives there when I was young. It’s where my parents grew up too. Baseball meant the Cincinnati Reds – Opa’s favorite team. Both my brothers wore the requisite Reds baseball hats and jackets, even though we all lived on the east coast. Oma sometimes reminisced about the sales job she held (until she married) at the Wurlitzer Company in downtown Cincinnati. I remember stories about riding streetcars and shopping at Kroger’s.
Opa and Oma were very proud of their childhood beginnings…and the schools they went to. I’m not sure if they attended the same grammar schools. I wish I had asked more questions about their earliest years. Opa did mention some hijinks involving a piano in the music room which I won’t go into here; but suffice it to say he was a prankster. And proud of it. Which doesn’t surprise me at all. The class pictures I found – some over 100 years old – make me wonder…what happened to all those children? What were their lives like? What were their stories?
Below is Opa’s kindergarten class (he is identified by the arrow). I wonder how long those 5 year olds had to stand or sit still for the photographer. First or last day of school? Was that one class or 2 together? What a group…all those hats!
Below is (what I assume to be) Oma’s Kindergarten class. Unfortunately this photo has deteriorated and there is no mention of what school it was (although I suspect it might be the Kirby Road School – it seems similar to her 8th grade location in the next photo). She is 4th from the right in the second row (black mark pointing her out). Oma told me how much she loved the big bows she wore in her hair as a child.
Next is Oma’s 8th grade class photo. There she is in the front row, still wearing a big bow in her hair. She went to the Kirby Road School, which is now listed on the “National Register of Historic Places” in Cincinnati, Ohio. It has been (or is planning to be) converted into apartments – 50,000 square feet of them; most complete with original chalkboards and wood floors & trim! I can just imagine her reaction to hearing that news. Perhaps a sly grin and a shake of the head….
Another Kirby Road School class picture is in the form of a postcard. It is not dated, but appears to be 1914 or 1915 judging from how old the children look. Oma would have been in the 3rd or 4th grade; still wearing the bow, but not looking too pleased this time. She had written the note on the back of the postcard, shown below.
This is my favorite.
Opa’s grammar school class – not sure exactly which grade. Look at all the children carefully posed at their desks. Holding books open as if the photographer was interrupting a reading lesson. Library books are listed on the blackboard, so perhaps that explains the reason for the photo…promoting library books? Something new for the school? The flag draped on one desk – which seems odd, but there may have been some tie-in to the book theme.
They all look so serious…except Opa sitting in the back with a big grin on his face.