April 13th, 2009

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LOWER ELEMENTARY

It's taken me longer than I thought to start these posts. I've been waffling over whether to break them up or put them all together and I think that I shall break them up. Not because I want to draw out the suspense or drive you crazy but because there are things I want to say about the persons I once was at different stages and it's a harder process than simply shooting out a couple of flippant descriptive paragraphs would be.

Thanks to my mom and sister and brother-in-law for facilitating the madness!

This is me in kindergarten. My teacher's name was Mrs. McDowell and the year was 1969. We lived in Knob Noster, Missouri, where my dad was stationed at Whitman Air Force Base. I have very scattered memories of Missouri. I remember the basement which was our playroom and nothing else of the house. I had the mumps in Missouri, and my stomach pumped after eating what I thought was grapes found in the wood and turned out to be undissolved pesticide pellets, but I don't really remember that, it's just something I've been told. I was shy with strangers and bossy with my own friends but I don't remember who any of my friends were from elementary school at all, except at some point an older girl named Judy who was the incentive for me to learn how to ride my bicycle with the sparkly green banana seat. Let it be noted that despite the psychedelic zigzag stripes and the Peter-Panny collar, this dress is pretty good as far as my school photos go, fashion-wise.

I am rocking the fuschia polyester here and how about that lace neckline? It's weird to see these photos of myself as a child and realize how short my hair was. It refutes my notion that I don't look good with short hair, hence the long-haired looniness that I subjected myself and the rest of the world to later (just wait). We were still in Missouri here, and this is one of only 2 school photos that I had myself (and which I've actually posted before). My teacher was still Mrs. McDowell, and I was mis-remembering her name as Downy. Now I'm wondering if one of my other teachers at some point was named Mrs Downy, because I was SO SURE in my head that that was her name. In the class photo of my whole 1st grade, right under my photo, was the picture of a little girl who ended up being in my gang of girlfriends in junior high in Holland, a fact we would discover then to our mutual astonishment.

I quite like this photo, despite the patriotic check and bizarrely buttoned sweater without arms in the sleeves. All I wanted for the Christmas of my 2nd grade year, obviously, is my 2 front teeth. This was our last year in Missouri. I don't remember the name of my teacher, though I do remember taking my India Madame Alexander doll to school which resulted in the loss of one of her golden coin earrings and her gold snake bracelet with the red glass-chip eyes. A few other memories from Missouri include being grossed-out by my sister touching tongues with David Partridge, and a party my parents threw, at which they covered the basement walls with brown butcher paper and drew comic strips on, and then left big markers lying about for the guests to help decorate the rest with. They put the appetizers down there in leaf-shaped dishes and my brother and sister and I ate up all the black olives (after decorating our fingers with them, of course) before being banished upstairs to bed.

I totally blame my mother for the clashing pink bows, but the snazzy ski sweater was probably my own fault. I was a particularly determined dresser and often brought my mother to despair by some of the clothing items that I fastened on with love and admiration (gold bat-wing sweater, denim clogs, giant cabbage-rose-patterned dress). Those hair ribbons make me laugh—can you still find that fat kind of ribbon? Later, my parents used those to tie onto luggage handles for easy identification on baggage carousels. This is 3rd grade, school year '72-'73, and I have my front teeth back, but have lost my lateral incisors. We had already moved from Missouri to Omaha, Nebraska and our school was across the street and up the hill from our house. A favorite book around this time was Pippi Longstocking—I thought her life was über-romantic and regularly went on thing-finding expeditions around the neighborhood.
Next up: Upper Elementary!