First Day of School

How many first days of school have I had in my life? No matter how old I get, the first day of classes always exciting and exhausting! Today I met all three of my classes, and we went over the syllabus which meant I mostly talked and answered questions. But there have been other days when I’ve been the student and those first days were just as exciting as the current one.

I started school with Kindergarten at Hazelwood School in Anderson. We lived on Park Avenue, and I walked to school with my friend Bill Ellis (Foley) who was known to my mother somehow, but I don’t recall how. We walked east on Park Ave., down around where the old Howe Fire Engine works used to be, crossing railroad tracks and several streets to get to school. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember it was exciting. My mother had no choice but to let me walk, but that doesn’t mean she liked it.

I finished Kindergarten and started the first grade at Washington School on Columbus Ave. right next to the big old Delco-Remy plant where my dad had worked during World War Two. I remember that in the first grade we had an exchange teacher, Miss Joan Holderness, from England, and we were all captivated by her accent and the words she used that were so different from ours.

I finished the first grade at Leach School north of Anderson in Lafayette Township, and went to school there through much of the sixth grade. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Hester, second grade was Mrs. Shearer. I had the same teacher for third and fourth grades, Mrs. Redmond, and she was my favorite. Fifth grade was Mrs. Etchison, who never believed that I had a reason for feeling ill after lunch (it was the whole milk), and in the sixth grade we had a male teacher, but I can’t remember his name. I do remember he had a fetal pig in a jar of alcohol which he kept on the long table just across from my seat. I didn’t like him either.

Then we moved back to town and I went to Longfellow and to Central Jr. High School, before a brief stint at Fall Creek Township school. After that it was on to Middletown for the rest of eighth grade and high school.

I loved school, both as a student and as a teacher. When it would be time for school to begin in the fall we would go to Decker’s in Anderson to get my school supplies, and I remember being so taken with that book store with its tables and book cases piled with books, paper, pencils, etc. So many empty pages, so little time. Also in August my mother would get a phone call from the lady in the children’s department at the Anderson Sear’s store (now the public library) and Mother would drag me down there to an un-air conditioned store (remember I said it was August) to try on new heavier dresses and coats until we found the ones that suited Mother. I was always taller than most and harder to fit, so it took a while.

But I think the best first days of school came with each new quarter at Ball State. You really can’t believe how much I loved being in college. I’d go again in a minute if I had the money, to study for another degree….probably in history. And then graduate school, where I started out thinking I’d never love any other college as much as I loved Ball State, but proved myself wrong. Eastern and its campus are just as special to me as BSU is.

So today I began again, and hope to have many more such beginnings at Butler. I’ve learned over the years that wherever you are, if you make that your home, it always will be. Leach is gone now, as are many of the other buildings which saw my first days, but I remember them well, and the first days I spent in them, because the halls of learning have always been special to me.

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