Thursday, August 31, 2006
Labor Day...the first day of school
Labor Day was to us kids the first day of school. Nobody celebrated it, no businesses closed for it. We considered Labor Day a northern holiday but actually it has been around since 1883.
When the labor union in New York won a victory for higher wages, they celebrated with a parade. Grover Cleveland was president. Then the next year refreshments and games were added.
After that four more states began Labor Day celebrations and then Congress made it into a national holiday, a celebration that was in honor of all the workmen who had built America and they deserve that honor.
It used to be “School days, school days, dear ole golden rule days”. Reading, writing, arithmetic taught to the tune of a hickory stick. How we change! Hickory sticks are out of style. Writing in the form of penmanship isn’t taught anymore. There’s a new kind of arithmetic. As for English, I heard a young person say “I don’t know why they teach English. I don’t see no need in it.” Evidently!
School starts in August, now that we have air conditioning. Once we didn’t and children can’t learn in all that heat.
School was an exciting place. Everyday was an adventure for learning and getting along with old and new friends. To have missed it would have been punishment. Everyone has memories of it.
My first grade teacher was Miss Mary Crowder, who wasn’t much bigger than us pupils. She had come to Holly Springs four years before and kept teaching for more than forty years as later on she taught my children.
Bud Holbrook was in my first grade and he carved the teacher a paddle (pretty amazing for a first grade student). He was the first to get a paddling with it.
I thought that was really tacky of Miss Crowder after he had been so kind as to carve that piece of art. Wish we had it for the Museum today.
Miss Elizabeth Pinkston was our great second grade teacher and was wonderfully sweet and patient. In her class I was sitting next to Richard Garner. He came down with scarlet fever and so did I.
I lived around the corner from the school and so close I could walk home at dinnertime which was really lunch time (dinner was supper except on Sunday). When I had this fever, Dr. Seale quarantined my mother and me to one side of our house for thirty days.
Miss Elizabeth brought all the well second graders around the corner to see me and they peered into the window like I was a freak but I was really glad to see them.
Miss Elizabeth married Art Collins and moved away (our loss).
Next was Miss Sally Cochran, an incredible teacher but once she lost her cool and stunned us all. She had her back turned to us and she was writing on the blackboard and Frances Newsom was talking. All of a sudden, Miss Sallie wheeled around and threw the eraser at Frances who ducked and the eraser hit Russell Cook in the face. It was hilarious to everybody except Russell and Miss Sally.
Miss Sally Mae Daniel was a wonderful fourth grade teacher and later became superintendent of education.
Our fifth grade teacher was Miss Jesse Sherman but she was only there a few years, however, she taught us a lot. We were beginning to grow up in the fifth grade. Then when we arrived at sixth grade we were fully armed and ready for the world.
In the sixth grade we were fortunate enough to have Miss Minnie DeMomdrum, who was Frank Hopkins’ relative. I remember she had purple hair and put up with no nonsense. She taught us diagramming and debating, everything she was supposed to and a whole lot more.
Mr. Samuels was the superintendent of the school at that time and he had two boys about our age. Being the superintendent’s son was probably like being the preacher’s son.
Today Labor Day means the last of the scorching days of summer. It is a holiday we’ve learned to use for entertainment or to be entertained. It is the very beginning of a new adventure and how exciting that can be! It gives us a new lease on life, which we need.
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