Tag Archives: grade school

January show & tell (mostly of December stuff)

Back in grade school I loved “Show and tell” day. Each kid brought in an item or a story and presented it before the class. I liked to hear the other kids’ stuff and I especially relished the chance to share something of my own. That trait has stuck with me. If you know me, you’ll probably be shown this-or-that interesting object or find semi-regularly. I just want to share my excitement.


A short aside/secondary intro which may or not belong here but I’ve opted to leave in:  The psychology of things, not surprisingly, is a strong interest and one I reference from time to time here; what we own, how we relate to our possessions, and, in this country, how people not only accumulate and hoard, but often rely on belongings both for self-definition and distraction from troubles. I’ve given a lot of thought to my possessions, have pared down considerably, and try to keep those things which I use or find beautiful or meaningful.


One year at holiday time, back in that small grade school I mentioned, a couple of the kids’ mothers made little Christmas stockings for each of the members of my class, even taking the trouble to put our names on them.

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I have kept mine. I wonder if anyone else still has theirs? See, I was so thrilled and touched at the time that someone had made this just for me, totally unexpectedly. The parents could have gone to the store and bought a couple dozen little stockings or given everybody identical ones, without bothering to personalize them, but instead they did something special. I wish I knew or could remember which mothers made them but I’m sad to say I don’t (I’m not certain I knew at the time).

It’s yet another reminder to me how much seemingly small gestures can mean to other people (for reasons we may never know). Too often I forget or misplace this knowledge, essentially how much we can impact others, even when we don’t know it, even with small gestures. It’s as if I can see how much I appreciate the things which have been done for me but often fail to realize how my gestures can impact others. Which isn’t to say that every gesture or kindness I (or you) do for someone else causes wild gratitude – or even should – but that we often don’t know, or maybe underestimate, the possibility of truly touching someone or maybe reaching out at an exact moment it’s needed.


My town never did big holiday decorations in what amounts to “the town square” before this year (they decorated but mostly in another location) and I was delighted for weeks by the results. Charming and tasteful. I caught these shots after a December rain at dusk, with the lights reflecting on wet pavement.

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I’m going to briefly step away from the post-holiday reflections theme to show you something I found a few years ago. (I forever remain a little kid who walks around looking at the ground in hopes of finding money or other treasures. Occasionally it pays off.)

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Now, I always took this to be merely an interesting-shaped rock. However, in the last several days I started to wonder if it might be an arrowhead. I’ve heard people talk about finding arrowheads, but honestly, I never knew what that meant exactly. I wasn’t thinking about the word literally enough, as in “the head of an arrow.” I probably saw artifacts in a museum somewhere along the way that would have included arrowheads, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyway, I googled arrowhead images now and the pictures mostly show a curved bottom, not a flat line like mine has. Two of the sides have a “finished” man-made look. So I don’t know. Either way I have a special rock.

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I found two tantalizing objects tossed out last week. They and a few other items were in a bag by the road (although I admit it’s a risky business examining bags left by the road) and for that reason went unnoticed by other people. I didn’t bother with them the first time I passed since I was out for a fast-paced walk but on another day I stopped when I saw them still sitting there.

The first is a string of magic lights! I wish I could show you a video but having attempted it, I get an “unsupported” message so that’s not happening. Anyway, they can do all these clever things. There’s a small box attached with a button that controls eight light settings. Some are flashy & wild and others more demure and peaceful. Admittedly, I don’t get around much, but I’ve never seen anything like them. There’s no recognizable manufacturer name but it does say “Germany” on the controller. They are so cheering. I just stare & stare as they run through their many colors.

The second item was more amenable to a photo session. This 3″ tall tin tea light holder is so detailed, with all the quintessential Christmas toy scenes. When I was a kid, I’d have been enthralled by it. And now, I still think it’s special.

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Here’s a little girl (or a big doll, your choice) with a bow in her hair, a snazzy doll house and a tea set.

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“Why yes, I would like a cup please.”

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Drum set, trumpet, blocks, and ball. (Somewhere a parent will be warning through gritted teeth, “If you pound that drum or blow that horn one more time, Young Man…”)

 

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Sled, wrapped package

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Of course, a “choo choo” train

This next and final diorama was initially puzzling.

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The teddy bear & spinning top are fine but the tall fellow on the back right gives pause. What the…?

The figure in the back resembles an upright, long-eared dog with muscular thighs. I’ve seen plenty of toy/tin soldiers – and having hit every stereotypical Christmas emblem on this tea light holder, that’s the only missing one – but he didn’t look like any I’ve seen.

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What Christmas is complete without… this guy?

I puzzled over it and then something clicked. The string lights came from Germany, so might that be the origin of the tea light holder too? I’m no history whiz but I got the notion to look up Hessian soldiers. I’m not sure that’s the right one – some images seem close – but it makes sense that the little guy is some kind of German soldier. Funny how everything else was so instantly, universally almost, recognizable, but this one aspect suggested a specific region.

 

 

 

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Short Thought 99 (change)

The principal at the private grade school I attended was, for my first 6 grades, one Sister Anne Frederick, a name which unfortunately (for us) fit her. She wasn’t a robust, physically imposing woman – that would be the next principal – but a stern, pinched, mean-faced person of small, wiry stature in the vein of Margaret Hamilton’s child-hating Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West.

The last principal I heard of, before the school closed down some years back, was – get this – “Tiffani.” Tiffani ending with an “i” no less.

Short Thought 62 (old classmates)

I doubt very much I’m the first person to think this about my past, but if you had told me in grade school and high school what might become of some of my classmates, I wouldn’t have believed it. Teenage pregnancies, suicides, prison, heart disease, deaths, divorces, alcoholism, and romantic pairings I’d have never considered. And this is just the stuff I happen to know about.  When I think about old classmates, even if I know them in present day, I still imagine kids. And these sorts of things don’t happen to kids.

My sister and I perform a sweet song at the school show (NOT)

All the kids in my family, like it or not, went to the same small parochial grade school, and this meant some off us attended in overlapping years. The annual talent show was a big deal and while participation was voluntary, this activity was up my alley (and it wasn’t as if the school was packed with prodigies and mini virtuosos who would trample over the regular schmucks). One memorable year my next oldest sister and I paired to do an act together.

We elected to perform “Flamin’ Mamie,” a peculiarly inappropriate choice for two knee-socked, preteen girls at that time and place – which was long before toddlers wore thongs, twerked, and sang about gettin’ themselves some. If I recall this ditty was taught to us by one of our older sisters; it was NOT on any of our children’s records. Looking online now I see that the lyrics vary from site to site, but most open, as did we, with, “They call me Rump Flamin’ Mamie…” and continue with, “I’m the hottest baby in town!” There’s another verse where a fireman comments that Mamie is the hottest thing since “Chicago’s fire.” We absolutely did not know what the song was about, but presently reading the various lyrics, it sure sounds like we were singing an upbeat song about a busy prostitute.

The gimmick to our act was that we combined our two little selves to perform as one person. Here’s how it worked. I lay down on the floor so that I faced the ceiling. My sister, facing the same direction and wearing a voluminous skirt then knelt over my midsection so that my feet and lower part of my legs stuck out from under the skirt in front of her, while hers stayed hidden. From the front, it gave the impression of one, albeit somewhat unusually jointed, person. My sister then sang the song and did the hand movements while I kicked my legs around as the lower half of the body. Clever, no? IMG_20140621_184418

How though, did we get away with this?? On the homefront, our mother was uninvolved with this sort of thing and it was our older sisters who tended to get into the act(s) so to speak, so that explains some of it. But all the performances were seen in try-outs and rehearsals by older students running the show as well as by teachers. Was no one listening to the lyrics?? Did our genuine naiveté sell it?

Come the day of the show, there was one slight clue our act didn’t go over too “flamingly” and that was when we won no prize whatsoever. At the time I was genuinely puzzled over the shut-out. A subsequent year, when each of us performed wholesome individual acts, we tied for first place. Yes, well.