Tuesday, November 27, 2007

K Through 6

When I drive in to Tucson, I like taking the long and windy (as in road, not weather) way in so that I can pass all the places that bring back memories. Last weekend, I drove past my old elementary school and stopped to walk Dookie and take some pictures. It really has changed a lot. Jenni, if you didn't get to stop by during your visit, I hope at least you, Joe and your mom can appreciate these pictures and post.

Looking North: The Little-Kids' Playground

There were two playgrounds at Whitmore. The one at the back of the school was for the 'big kids'. The big kids' playground had kickball fields, separate basketball courts, a giant jungle gym for climbing and bars up to 10 feet high. The photos here are of the playground for grades K through 3 and is still the same, more or less. They have added shade coverings over the equipment because the Arizona sun can make the metal super hot and I recall burning my hands and backs of my legs on the swings. In this sandbox, we used to look for sand rubies and 'tornado bugs'. You know, the bugs that burrow in the sand and make a hole that looks like a tornado. In second grade, I got my first kiss from Timothy Gustofson (a first grader) while hanging upside down on the bars. I made my pinky fingernail black by jamming it in the gate, and sucked the nectar out of little purple flowers in the field. The field is now a parking lot and there are 'portable' classrooms where the little-kids' soccer field used to be.

Me on the Monkey Bars, 1980

Looking South: Playground and Main Building

Looking South:
The Bar, Monkey Bars and Greenberg's Portable

In the distance is the building where Mr Greenberg's sixth grade class was held. We called it a 'portable' but it really wasn't. It was a lone building in the back of the school property that looked like it was somebody's house at one time. My Kindergarten class was also taught in this building before they moved it and the G.A.T.E. class to the main building. The 'portable' had a porch and a gated 'yard' with tot-sized playground equipment. I met my very first friend on this playground during the afternoon session of Kindergarten. We both picked the same concrete tunnel to play in. She was skinny and was wearing purple tights and introduced herself as 'Lia'. I remembered her as Leotard.

The Cafeteria

The lunch room was the place where the net-headed 'lunch ladies' could hook you up with chocolate milk, mac & cheese, salty canned green beans and steakette patties. This was an entre that I would keep a look out for on the menu-calendar. On the days I brought my lunch, it would come packed (by Gramma, no doubt) in my metal Disneyland lunch box that had a picture of the castle and a flying Dumbo. Christine had a plastic Little House of the Prairie lunch box of which I was envious. The smell of lukewarm, hours-old milk still reminds me of sitting at lunch and drinking from my thermos. While we sat eating our food the janitor, Mr Karcher, would sneak up behind the kids and tip our chairs back and up really fast to try to get a scream and a laugh. Everyone always wished that they would be next. The cafeteria was also the staging area for ice cream socials, concerts, dances, after school activities and summer 'rec'.

While I was walking along the front of the cafeteria I remembered our first principal, Mr Rhodes, and decided to make him my next entry in Project *x365. He was probably in his late fifties, was balding, had a little beard and glasses. I remember that he was very nice, not scary at all (for a principal) and was fun to be around. If you were a Girl Scout, he referred to you as a 'Sprout'. He used to gather us up, sit with us on the steps to the stage in the cafeteria and sing songs. The one that sticks in my mind is the one about the bear. It's a repetitive song, so it was easy for us kids to sing along. He would sing a line and we would repeat it. Then, as a group, we would sing all of the lines in that verse together.
No where in the song does it mention it but, in my memory, the bear wore tennis shoes and/or came from Tennessee ("I met a bear... In tennis shoes" or "I met a bear... From Tennessee.") At the time, I was in kindergarten and Laura was in sixth grade, so maybe she can shed some light on why I remember it that way. Anyway, I found the lyrics via Google. Have I mentioned how much I love Google?

I Met a Bear

The other day (The other day)
I met a bear (I met a bear)
A great big bear (A great big bear)
Away up there (Away up there)

The other day I met a bear,
A great big bear a way up there!

He looked at me (He looked at me)
I looked at him (I looked at him)
He sized up me (He sized up me)
I sized up him (I sized up him)

He looked at me, I looked at him,
He sized up me, I sized up him!

He said to me (He said to me)
Why don't you run? (Why don't you run?)
I see you ain't (I see you ain't)
Got any gun (Got any gun")

He said to me, "Why don't you run?
I see you ain't got any gun!"

And so I ran (And so I ran)
Away from there (Away from there)
And right behind (And right behind)
Me was that bear (Me was that bear)

And so I ran away from there,
And right behind me was that bear!

Ahead of me (Ahead of me)
I saw a tree (I saw a tree)
A great big tree (A great big tree)
Oh, golly gee! (Oh, golly gee!)

Ahead of me there was a tree,
A great big tree, oh, golly gee!

The lowest branch (The lowest branch)
Was ten feet up (Was ten feet up)
I had to jump (I had to jump)
And trust my luck (And trust my luck)

The lowest branch was ten feet up,
I had to jump and trust my luck!

And so I jumped (And so I jumped)
Into the air (Into the air)
And missed that branch (And missed that branch)
Away up there (Away up there)

And so I jumped into the air
And missed that branch away up there!

Now don't you fret (Now don't you fret)
And don't you frown (And don't you frown)
I caught that branch (I caught that branch)
On the way back down (On the way back down)

Now don't you fret and don't you frown
I caught that branch on the way back down!

That's all there is (That's all there is)
There is no more (There is no more)
Until I meet (Until I meet)
That bear once more (That bear once more)

That's all there is, there is no more,
Until I meet that bear once more.

The end, the end (The end, the end)
The end, the end (The end, the end)
The end, the end (The end, the end)
The end, the end (The end, the end)

The end, the end, the end, the end,
This time it really is the end*!

*of the song and of this post


Sandi said...

Ah, yes, I remember that school and we did not get a chance to cruise by over the summer. Thanks for the photos. I think I recognize those shadows where Jenni was accused of "lurking" by her 5th grade teacher. It never dawned on him that it was 110 outside and maybe the shady spots were cooler!

Mandy Lou said...

How funny - I drove past my elementary school when we were home last year for the holidays. It's always interesting to see how things have changed or look different so many years later.

Jenni said...

What fond Whitmore memories! I loved Mr. Rhodes. It wasn't the same once he left the school. next time I'm in Tucson, I think I'll visit Whitmore, and maybe Townsend too.

I know your favorite teacher there was Mr. Greenburg. For me, it was Mr. Kennedy (5th grade). He will always hold a special place in my heart.

for a different kind of girl said...

My sons are now attending the same elemantary building that I did. When I go in there, I swear I can "see" myself as a fourth grader in those halls, and hear my teachers' voices. Even though aspects of the place have changed (the playground is now a parking lot...sigh...), it still is kind of eerie/cool to go in there.

Just Laura said...

I remember singing "I Met A Bear" both ways. At Whitmore we sang the "in tennis shoes" and in Girl Scouts the other way. I'm pretty sure however the bear did not wear tennis shoes, I (the singer) did. =)

Last time (before TDay) I was in Tucson, I drove all over the place and visited Whitmore, Townsend and Catalina. All so very different with the additions and smaller. I still remember them as big - you know... the halls were hugely wide and all of the rooms were so very big!

Memories huh?

Scoobers said...

Sandi- I totally remember that. Mr O'Key accused them of 'hanky panky'. What a dork.

ML- It's so nice to reminisce.

Jenni- I could have never lived up to his kickball team expectations like you and Joe did.

Different Girl- I also 'see' myself there. It makes me a little sad that those times are long gone.