I was five in 1968, so I guess that’s when I went to kindergarten. Right? It wasn’t offered in the actual schools back then, so I went half-days to a church basement. There was nothing religious about it, I think they just leased out the space, or something. The teacher was Mrs. Penn. I remember her as an Aunt Bee type, although all of it’s pretty fuzzy at this point. It feels like she was nice, but a little more businesslike and no-nonsense than adults I’d encountered to that point.
I don’t remember a great deal about the day-to-day kindergarten experience, However, there are a few remaining fragments of memories from that time. I’ll share them with you now, and turn it over to you guys to do the same. Sound good? Let’s do it.
- We had nap time, like the kids in the picture above. All of us had these scratchy plastic-covered mats that folded into thirds, and we’d put them on the floor and “nap” as the teacher read a story or played a record. I don’t think there was much sleeping going on, but everybody did settle down for a while. It seemed weird to me, as I recall. I felt vulnerable, like somebody was going to shank my ass.
- We also had snack time. A lot of purple Kool-Aid in Dixie riddle cups, I think, and sugar cookies. When I went to first grade, the following year, we had to bring our own snacks (usually wet room-temperature celery in a sandwich bag). But I believe they provided them in kindergarten. I can’t conjure an opinion on the quality of the offerings.
- There was a lot of finger-painting, and that sort of thing, at big communal tables. It feels like there was assigned seating, possibly boy/girl. If it was still set up the same today, I could point out my table and even which chair I used.
- I remember a girl counting and saying, “Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twentyteen…” I didn’t comment, but thought, “Wotta dumbass.”
- There were two boys in that so-called class who were menacing and rough. I was a little afraid of them, because there was always the threat of violence when they were around. Both have been dead for many years.
- Another boy and I were talking to a girl, imitating the hippies and cool cats we’d seen on TV. “Hey, baby,” and that sort of thing. She went to Mrs. Penn and said we’d called her a big baby, and we got a little heat for it. However, the girl misunderstood and I found it frustrating. I wasn’t calling her a baby, I was being cool, man.
- A couple of times they took us outside to a “park” next door. It was a shitty overgrown vacant lot, surrounded by an iron fence. The whole thing was full of thorny bushes, and flying insects brandishing goddamn bayonets, or whatever. It was horrible in there, and it was supposed to be fun?! We were lucky to get out alive. I’m surprised we didn’t interrupt a pair of copulating hobos.
- And I remember five or six of us boys peeing into a toilet at the same time, playing games with our streams. “Ha! I cut you off!!” Turning pissing into a competition with very vague and dynamic rules… “I won!” somebody would usually proclaim at the end. There was little point in arguing, but that didn’t stop it from happening anyway. It’s not like we could throw it to an arbitration board, or anything.
I ended up graduating high school with most of the kids from that kindergarten class, which is pretty cool, I think. The picture below isn’t my class, but it’s from the same era. I lifted it off Facebook. That’s Mrs. Penn, with some kids I knew, and my brother on the front row, all the way to the right. Crazy.
Do you have any memories of kindergarten? If so, please share ’em in the comments.
And I’ll leave you now with another Surf Report holiday shopping recommendation. I think you’ll agree that this tasteful and understated item would be a wonderful addition to the laundry room or above a garage workbench. Why not buy several dozen?
I’ll see you guys again soon. Have a great weekend!