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!
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I remember a lot from kindergarten. It was in 1989. I went to a private school, and the teacher was kind of a bitch. Half-days, no naptime, no snack.
I feel so old reading you went to Kindergarten in 1989 … so old
The longer I looked at the picture the more weird I felt. They are all girls crapped out on their belly. Then I thought of Jim Jones. I’ve got a hellacious cold, I’m going back to bed.
Jersey Girl in PA says
Same age as you. For snack we used to get 1/2 of a pretzel log but the teacher never broke them evenly. Sometimes you would get a 1/8 of a pretzel and sometimes more like 2/3. I also remember that girls could not wear pants, even in winter. So in the winter (in NJ) I would wear “slacks” under my dress but then had to take them off when I got to school.
Kindergarten was great – public school (felt like a ‘big kid’) and full day if I recall correctly. We learned about dinosaurs, had nap time and snack time, and copied letters from the ginormous example banner that circled the room. I don’t remember anything specific though, as most of my memories come from the picture of our class that has followed me in the nearly 50 years since I attended.
Phantom Railfan says
I remember several things about kindergarten. Graham Crackers and Hawaiian Punch. Giant red-and-white cardboard blocks you could build a full-size wall with. An asshole kid who threw a neighbor girl’s new glasses down into a ravine. A Chicken Pox outbreak that saw two-thirds of the class away from school. But most of all I remember the teacher. She was a drunk. On one occasion, she was loaded in the classroom and put on a 45rpm story record at 78rpm. When we tried to bring it to her attention, she snapped at us “Be quiet and enjoy the story!” and wandered off to some corner of the room. She also once paired me off with a new student who probably wasn’t ready for the kindergarten experience, and wouldn’t stop crying. It somehow became my responsibility to get this little girl to quit howling. Awful. And I don’t know how true it is, but my mother told me years later that the teacher was having an affair with the principal and they ran off together on the last day of school–I distinctly remember her being absent that day, because the sub they sent had no idea we were supposed to have an end of year party, and we mostly just sat there til somebody’s mom brought in some doughnuts.
I started 1st grade in 1957. Our town of 400 people didn’t have any kindergarten. I remember my 1st grade teacher well. She was a first class bitch known as ‘fat Mrs. Williams'(as opposed to ‘skinny Mrs. Williams’ who taught sixth grade. Fat Mrs. Williams had no business being trusted with poor little vulnerable 5-6 year olds. Especially ones who were so shy they couldn’t ask to go to the bathroom so they wet themselves right there in their seat. And were punished by having to sit right in front of the teacher’s desk. I have serious emotional ticks from that bitch. And the greatest irony of all is, I am now quite…plump. And married to a man named Williams. So, yeah. :-/
On a happier note, I love the shopping reccomendations you give us. I honestly had no idea Amazon sold items with those kinds of prices, and I shop on Amazon a LOT. My browsing history is a hell of lot more low-end! Ha!
I don’t remember snacks. Maybe that’s why we ate the paste.
I remember getting sick and going to the nurse’s office in Kindergarten. I must have thrown up in the bathroom in her office. When the nurse later asked me what I ate for breakfast, I said, “Ghostbuster cereal,” and she started laughing. I remember thinking it was a bit mean of her to be laughing at my misfortune!
I had family down in Mississippi in the 60s and I think my dad was trying to get my mom to relocate there (from NJ) one summer. They didn’t have kindergarten down there, they just started first grade, and my mom enrolled me in first grade when i was 5. I’d like to not make this a statement of the quality of education in Ole Miss at the time, but it’s not gonna be easy. At 5 years old I already knew the whole alphabet and could count to 100, and in the two weeks I was in school there I felt like a veritable Albert Einstein. It filled me with a false sense of accomplishment which has haunted me to this day…
John Stennis, Ross Barnett, James Eastland, Trent Lott.
I was late birthday 5-year old but they let me start Kindergarten in 1967. All I can remember is nap time on those plastic mats, the sandbox, and a boy named Rudy. It was half-day only. I have more memories of 1st grade. Hmmm.
I remember walking with about ten other kids (plus their moms) to school ervery afternoon in the fall. Miss Francis (our teacher) was beautiful, we had buttered graham crackers for snacks and one day some kid bit a large chunk out of my shoulder…it was a bloody mess. When I got home, my mom really flipped out and demanded that I tell her who did it. I went full “omerta,” stoically refusing to provide a name. I wasn’t going to be a bloody mess and a snitch as well. The kid finally confessed to his folks, apologies were made and all was well. I was snitchless, my shoulder healed and my pride was still intact. Still a hell of a scar though.
Damn. Did only one semester of kiddygarden in Chicago, home of Al Capone, and shit like that did not go down in 1953 – at least not in my classroom.
1953 as well, …small town Minnesota. I think that’s why my mom went bananas. Getting shark-bitten in kindergarten only happens to other kids in other towns.
We had to bring a large bath towel from home for nap time. Mine was purple.
I remember having graham crackers and hard ginger snaps. We also had chocolate, vanilla and strawberry sugar wafers. I like the lemon ones that are available today.
I wouldn’t say “Here” when roll was called, so I had to sit behind the piano every day. I didn’t know what they were all doing. Except when they played Duck, Duck, Goose. Aside from nap time and snack time, the only time I was made to come out was for spelling bees. I would deliberately spell my word wrong and go back behind the piano. I have vague memories of being outside, so they must have hauled me out for recess at least part of the time. For the class picture, they put me in the front row. I use it to prove that I’ve always been a people person…ha! I bet everyone who ever saw that picture had to ask what was up with that girl.
It wasn’t Rouhlac school in Memphis was it? We had a “bad chair” in the music room behind a piano as well.
all i rememberis the first day and asking my mom why are all these kids crying? both my parents worked so i was used to daycare and baby sitters.i remember some kid getting choked on grapes with seeds so they was banned as a snack.
I went to PS 39 in Brooklyn in 1963. I think it was full-day. The class was 50 kids and we had two teachers. Miss Wiener was a pretty young brunette with short hair, while Miss Lighter was a white-haired Grandma figure with Coke bottle glasses. Her arm-flesh was astoundingly mobile when she wrote on the blackboard. I remember both of them being nice.
There was of course the ring of cursive letters around the room above the blackboard (Why would you write a Q so it looks like a 2?). And I remember one little story or riddle: There’s a little room with no doors and no windows, and a star inside. What is it? The answer is an apple – cut it through its equator, and the core looks like a star. Give me a break, we were five.
I just cut an apple in half, and I’ll be darned if I can find a star there. I also noticed that before I cut it, it bore no resemblance to a room. No damn cat, no damn cradle.
I haven’t eaten an apple since then. You know what they say: Neutronium? Nein, danke!
I was in kindergarten in 1982. I learned how to open a bag of chips. We had a student teacher, who was college aged and she drove about a 78 or 79 Bronco that was jacked up on chrome wheels and I thought it was real cool. She looked just Ace Frehley on the cover of his solo Kiss album, but without makeup. This one time me and another were in the bathroom kicking the wall for some reason, and I don’t know how my 5 year old self did it, but my foot went through the wall. The other kid ran off and told and was back with a teacher before it could get my foot out of the hole. During recess I had to sit in the “bad chair” in the music room behind the upright piano for what seemed like a couple weeks, but it was really probably three or four days. There was also two twin brunette girls who’s mom dressed them in matching frilly dresses every day. Looked alot like The Shining.
In the boy’s restroom was a high up window that was always open for ventilation. You could compete to see who could pee out of the window. A second bottle of milk first thing in the morning probably helped with the bladder pressure needed.
Now I’m thinking about it, we all got, and had to drink, a third pint bottle of milk every morning (this would have been 1976/7). It was regular full fat milk. Organic/skim/soy/almond was unheard of. Nobody died.
I always wondered about that. Who knew that almonds and soys were mammals?
Adding to my kid’s these days observations, there were mature walnut trees on the grounds, and during recess we would crack and eat the nuts. Tree nuts in a school! I’ll bet those old walnut trees are long gone due to someone’s allergies 🙁
I always like to say that I was a kindergarden dropout, since we moved after I was in the school for about a month. That’s about all I remember about it! I guess I wasn’t required to register in our new town, so I just went to first grade the next fall…
I started Kindergarten in September of 1966. We had half day and I was in the afternoon class. We were in the basement of the local public school. We had to memorize our phone numbers – I still remember it. We painted with easels, played in a kitchen and learned our letters and numbers.
In the second half of the year the morning and afternoon classes switched and suddenly I needed to be at school by 8:30. I was hard to wake up and my uncle recommended my grandmother give me coffee. So at the age of 5 I started drinking coffee with saccharine and milk.
My kindergarten days are from 1965. We had those red and white cardboard bricks also it was the best to make forts with. They also had wooden planks and boxes to make things with but they hurt like hell when you dropped them on your feet or hands. We took a wagon down to the cafeteria to get the daily supply of milk and saltine crackers. Last day of school we moved to the other side of town and traded in the brand new school for a creepy 1920 style spooky castle. Cloak rooms, wooden floors and slate chalk boards all infused with the farts of long gone children.
This follows on well with my smells post the other day.
The steel building that housed my preschool and kindergarten classes had a family of skunks that returned to have babies every year. There are two or three generations of peole from my home town that are either immune or pleased by the smell of skunks. I remekber for a few months one that there wasn’t a week that went by without someone getting sprayed.