Posted tagged ‘walking to school’

“Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death.”

January 19, 2013

Yesterday, my plans worked out perfectly. I didn’t get dressed, I took a nap and I read. Even Gracie spent most of her time inside on the couch curled up on her afghan. Her few trips outside were mission oriented and quick: a run down the deck stairs, a squat and a run back into the house.

Winter days like today remind me of when I was a kid and felt perpetually cold walking to and from school every day. Staying home, despite snow or frigid weather, wasn’t an option unless I had the plague. We walked to  and from school no matter rain nor snow nor dead of night, okay, maybe not that last one as I might be exaggerating just a bit. The worst days were on rainy days in winter when it was cold. We’d get soaked and so freezing we’d actually look forward to getting to school where it was dry. My school had tall radiators which hissed steam. They were on the side near the windows and in the back of the room, but we seldom noticed them beyond the first few days after the heat was turned on for the winter. It was like white noise. The ceilings in the old school were so high that it usually took a while for the room to be really warm so most of us wore sweaters over our uniforms.

On the windiest winter mornings, I froze the whole walk to school despite the layers my mother had piled on me. Because the wind was bitterly cold and in our faces, my friends and I would hold hands and walk backwards away from the wind. When we arrived at school, our cheeks were sometimes so red they were sore, and our fingers were numb despite our mittens. The cloak rooms would be bursting with bulky coats hanging off hooks, and you couldn’t walk through without knocking someone’s coat on the floor. My hat and mittens were up my sleeves for safe keeping. I didn’t mind missing recess on those cold, rainy days.

When I’d get home wet and cold, I’d change right away. That was when I first learned cozy.

“A childhood is what anyone wants to remember of it. It leaves behind no fossils, except perhaps in fiction.”

May 19, 2011

Today we have emerged from a post-apocalyptic world where the sun never shines. Gray sky has been replaced by blue and the sun has appeared. How long this will last I don’t know. The weather report is for showers later this afternoon and for every day until Sunday. Even now the sun is dimming, and the sky is clouding. It is warm though, and I’ll take that.

In my memory spring never had rain. It had sun every day. I’d walk to school wearing a light spring jacket, my school bag slung over my shoulder and across my chest. I remember a red plastic strap and two small pockets below the buckle which kept the large pocket closed. I’d carry my lunchbox or fit it in my school bag if I could. Spring meant we no longer walked hunched over protecting ourselves from the wind and the cold. We could take our time getting to school. I remember that every morning the school yard was filled with kids milling around waiting for the nun to come outside and ring the hand bell. We’d hear it and run to line up in twos by classes then we’d walk into the building one class at a time. Recess was always a joy in the spring.

We never counted days when I was young so we never knew when school would end for the year. The last days arrived unheralded. First was a week of testing to see if we’d learned anything then on that last day we’d get report cards and be dismissed in the late morning. I remember running home to tell my mother I’d been promoted.

Next year the old school turns 100. I’m hoping there will be festivities so I can walk through the door and up those stairs one more time. Maybe they ought to bring back a nun, still dressed in a habit, who will ring the bell to tell us it’s time. I know every inch of that building, and I even remember where I sat in some of those classrooms. I want to know if the cloakroom outside my first grade classroom is as I remember it. I want to go to the top floor and look down just as I did every day. I loved the view of wood and stairs and statues in niches. My memories are mostly fond. Years do that-clean up our memories and keep the good ones alive.

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

August 31, 2010

Today I want to conjure the spirit of Mr. Rogers so he can sing It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood because it most decidedly is. A breeze, ever so slight, keeps the sun at bay and makes the deck the perfect spot to spend the day. I do have a few errands, but they shouldn’t take more than an hour then it’s back to the deck.

When I was a kid, I walked to school because my father left early every day to go to work. Most families back then only had that one car, the one our fathers drove, so we all walked. My mother didn’t even learn to drive until she was in her late 30’s. The walk wasn’t a long one and in the fall and spring was a pretty walk on sidewalks shaded by towering trees. Rainy days were the worst for walking. I never carried an umbrella so I always got soaked. My shoes got the worst. As I walked, they sometimes bubbled at the seams from all the water.

Changing into play clothes was the very first thing I always did when I got home from school. On rainy days, my mother would hang up my wet skirt, my uniform skirt, as I only had one. She’d let it dry a bit then iron it while it was still damp. My mother always ironed the clothes when they were slightly damp. It was the easiest way to iron out all the creases.

I sometimes watched my mother iron. She used to take the clothes, sprinkle water on them from a bottle of water with a perforated top she used to keep by the ironing board then fold them and put them in a basket to dampen. This was before steam irons so my mother sort of made her own steam with the water.

At my surprise house warming thirty odd years ago, someone gave me a steam iron as a gift. I still have it. I also have a plastic spray bottle, a descendant of  my mother’s glass bottle. I used it to spray the creases.