The picture above is the elementary school I attended. Sorta. It’s been remodeled and renamed multiple times. They’ve built on giant sections that I don’t recognize, including the fancy-pants entrance in the photo. That shit didn’t exist when I went there. In fact, we entered on a completely different side of the school. As God intended. The whole thing is an abomination, a Frankenstein’s monster version of a once-proud house of learning. I don’t even like to drive past it now. The old baseball field in the back is gone… It’s depressing. It was called Dunbar Elementary when I went there, and is now something ludicrous like Dunbar Primary Center. What in the world?! I’m getting all fired up just typing this.
Anyway, today I’m going to briefly run down a few completely random memories of things that happened while I was in that building, and turn it over to you guys. Hopefully you have some similar memories of your own to share? Let’s get started, shall we?
There was a kid named William who had one Spock ear. Word on the street was that he held it that way, with his fingers, for many, many hours. Then it was permanent. One day he sneezed during class and a long string of snot came out, that nearly reached the floor. It was swinging there for an instant, still attached at the source. Then, with a great snort, he reeled the whole thing back in. I was both appalled and impressed.
During fourth grade we played BINGO a lot, or some learning-version of it, anyway. We had cards, and little plastic discs to mark them with. A kid named David would stand the discs up on their edges, and flick them like a paper football. Sometimes they’d go long distances, and it was all great fun. One day he did this and the disc went sailing, twisting and turning through the air. Then, to our absolute amazement, it landed directly in Mrs. Hill’s cup of coffee. A few minutes later she lifted it to her mouth to take a slurp, and noticed the thing floating in there. She just casually removed it, took her slurp, and continued with her day.
In that same class each of us were assigned a different animal, and allotted several days (weeks?) for “research.” At the end of that period of time, we’d have to stand in front of everyone and read a report we wrote about the animal we were assigned. It was a major project that lasted forever, it seemed. And one thing they kept reminding us: do not just copy stuff straight out of the encyclopedia. Everything must be written in our own words. The disc flicker from above, not the smartest person I’ve ever met, got up there with his scribbled notebook paper, and began, “The beaver, pictured at left…”
During sixth grade they were talking about starting a school newspaper, and asked us for our input on what features we’d like to see in the monthly publication. Another not-so-bright kid named Mike suggested “weather.” I thought that was hilarious.
In fifth grade our teacher, Mrs. Miller, was standing in front of the class talking to us. At one point she took her pen and scratched her forehead with it. Apparently she believed it was closed, or had the cap on it, but it wasn’t. So, we just sat there and watched as she inexplicably scribbled blue ink on her face. Good times.
Mrs. Hill, the fourth grade teacher with the BINGO cards, looked like Larry Csonka in a peasant dress. She was generally nice, as I recall, but had her moments. A girl named Tammy always had a messy desk, with papers and crap sticking out in every direction. A couple of times during the year Mrs. Hill ordered Tammy out of her seat, grabbed the entire desk/chair combination, and shook it above her head like King Kong. Everything came raining down, and Tammy was told to put it all back neatly. It was great!
During fifth and sixth grades (I think) we were occasionally forced to go to the “all-purpose room” and engage in what was purported to be square-dancing. An old guy from our town would come in and run the whole program, and it was ridiculous from the start. We’d “swing” the girls so fast their feet would literally come off the floor. And one time the old guy left the room for a few minutes, and a kid named Keith grabbed his microphone and shouted, “Swing your partner round and round, take her to the toilet, flush her down!” The entire exercise was barely contained anarchy.
A kid named Jerome would regularly fart in class so loud people in passing aircraft could probably hear it. It was nothing short of amazing. I remember he wouldn’t tilt to one side, as most stunt-farters do. He’d place both feet on the floor in front of him, and hoist his ass off the chair. Then he’d put his entire abdomen behind it, and create a crisp and sustained blast that had to be heard to be believed. The teachers would yell at him, but he would not be deterred.
During fifth grade (I believe) we kept going back for seconds in the cafeteria, trying to eat as many tater tots or new potatoes (there’s controversy about the actual food item involved) as possible. We were all keeping track, and attempting to outdo each other. And, for whatever reason, the cafeteria ladies just kept ’em coming. The next day we were all called into a room and given a raft of shit about it. They were not happy, for reasons I didn’t really understand, and wanted to know how many each of us had eaten. And everybody who admitted to a number higher than 15 had to wear a giant pig-shaped paper plate thing pinned to their shirts, with the words NO SECONDS written on it. I think some of the parents got mildly whipped-up about that, but mine didn’t. They just said something like, “What kind of dumbass would eat 22 new potatoes?”
In sixth grade I picked up one of those “tornadoes in a jar” things. Remember those? I started to shake it, to create the tornado, and it slipped out of my hands. The jar shattered and sent colored water and shards of glass flying in every direction. The custodian, Mr. Echols, was summoned, and was not amused. He’d always been super-nice to me, but turned on me that day. I was mortified.
Also during sixth grade somebody scratched the word FUCK in the bathroom door. Each classroom had its own small unisex bathroom, and somebody defaced the inside of the door. The new principal, Mr. Ellis, was outraged and ordered that the door be removed, until somebody confessed. So, our only bathroom had no door. I can’t remember how that worked, exactly. But I do remember the boys continued to use it anyway, and everybody could hear them peeing, loudly and clearly. The girls, though? I don’t know. But it only lasted a couple of days, and somebody finally broke, under the social pressure. And it was a girl! Amazing. I’m sure they had their eye on me, or one of my friends. Oh well.
I need to call it a day, my friends. I could easily do a part II on this subject, but I’m all out of time. I’m turning it over you guys now.
And I’ll see you again on Monday.
Have a great day!