Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Dickinson’

mom, in first row, near the center, white tights, black shoes

I began writing about how I had started kindergarten in early February 1958 at Daniel S. Dickinson school in the First Ward of Binghamton, NY, named after a 19th-century politician, located at the intersection of Dickinson Street and the curved Starr Avenue.

But then I came across, on one of those Binghamton-specific Facebook sites, this peculiar newspaper article, slamming the neighborhood that I grew up in, while holding up my school as an oasis from whatever scourge existed on the streets. And it wasn’t my experience, for the most part. What I ended up writing, will be in four parts, each titled from a line from my first alma mater.

If my mom didn’t work, at McLean’s department store downtown, first as an elevator operator and then as a bookkeeper, the trajectory of my life would have been quite different. Since we lived at 5 Gaines Street, between Front St and Oak St, I probably would have gone to Oak Street school for K-6.

Instead, the school district used my maternal grandma’s address at 13 Maple Street, between Prospect St and Cypress St, only a few short blocks away, as our address. That’s where my sisters and I went to lunch each day.

If I had gone to Oak Street, I might have met Karen and Carol and Bill, who I’ve in touch with in 2018, or Bernie or Lois, who I’ve seen in recent years, at some later date. Probably we would have been together in junior high, also at DSD, or certainly at Binghamton Central High School. As it is, February 2018 marks 60 years of friendship, which is very rare indeed.

Starting school in February, as well as September was, as I now understand, a peculiar system that almost no other district used. The kids who were turning five in the winter would begin school then. This is why I STILL remember some of their birth months.

I started kindergarten in Miss Cady’s class with Carol, Bill and David T. (December birthdays), Lois, Irene, and Bernie (February), Karen (like me, in March), and Diane (April) and some other kids, including Mary (April) and David D.

Roger singing, Trinity AME Zion Church, age 6


We had clocks that had Roman numerals; I recall the four was shown as IIII rather than IV. My rug for taking a nap on was yellow, which I passed on to my sister Leslie, a year and a half later. One time, I clearly remember waking up at 11:45 when everyone else had gone home for lunch one time.

I have no recollection of what I actually DID in kindergarten. When I went to Karen’s mother’s wake in 2012, Karen’s sister told me how I complained on a local kids’ TV show that Karen snapped my suspenders. I had no recollection.

We had eight teachers between first and fourth grade, in large part because some of teachers went on maternity leave. One in first grade, was Mrs. Goodrich, and one In fourth, was Miss Erickson, maybe? Mrs Waters, in third grade, I remember, came back and taught Leslie.

In second grade, we danced the Minuet in G. I think Karen danced with Bill, and Lois danced with Bernie. I know I danced with Carol.

Also in second grade, some sixth graders forced me to fight a kid named Danny, who was my sister Leslie’s classmates, so about a year and a half younger than I was. We were supposed to make it look good, lest they beat us both up. I inadvertently hit him in the nose and drew blood. I felt awful, but the older kids were thrilled.

I joined the Cub Scouts in third grade. Ray, who ended up in my class in second grade was, in the pack, as was David D. Ray’s mom was our den mother. When Ray married Pam in 1976, I got to escort Ray’s mom to her seat.

Was I an overly sensitive kid? One time, some kids on the playground were playing “keep away” with my hat. I got mad and went home. Legend has it, though I don’t specifically remember, that I hopped a ride on a Crowley’s milk truck. Did that really happen?

More soon.

Things remind me of other things, all but forgotten.

One of most peculiar items I came across recently was this: Black people were denied vanilla ice cream in the Jim Crow south – except on Independence Day.

The memory of that all-but-unspoken rule seems to be unique to the generation born between World War I and World War II.
But if Maya Angelou hadn’t said it in her classic autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I doubt anybody would believe it today.
“People in Stamps used to say that the whites in our town were so prejudiced that a Negro couldn’t buy vanilla ice cream. Except on July Fourth. Other days he had to be satisfied with chocolate.”

Read the rest of this entry »

bullyingI had reason recently to reflect on the bullies in my life. Growing up in the First Ward of Binghamton, NY, it was what I suppose one would call a lower middle class life, with some doing well enough to get by, but others living a more hardscrabble existence.

My school, Daniel S. Dickinson, which I loved – and which I wrote about in 2012 – was a K-9 school that, I learned much later, didn’t always get the most current resources. For instance, we had an ancient music book that still had Read the rest of this entry »

This is a picture of my mother’s class (kindergarten or first grade, from the 1933 date). Can you find her? My, they all look so sullen. I mean, I know it’s the Depression and all, but dang.
***
In that TMI category, there were a couple polyps removed from my colon in late June. They were hyperplastic, a term I had never heard/seen before. This means Read the rest of this entry »

I’m referring to my friend since kindergarten, not my wife.

In second grade, the class got to dance a minuet waltz. Bill danced with Karen, Bernie with Lois, and Carol with me; why I remember this so many years later is beyond me. I think I developed a bit of a crush on Carol, because the next year, I hit her with a snowball, unintentionally in the head; I felt terrible.

The whole class got to spend time at her family cottage on a lake in northern Pennsylvania, which was always a treat.

At some point, someone came across a list of IQ scores of our class. No names were associated with the numbers Read the rest of this entry »

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