Post 1025: when I was a “wee fart”…!

This is my high school class’ 50th reunion year. Terry, my friend since we were probably two years old and my parents were building the house on Mississippi next to Terry’s home, is one of the committee putting the reunion together. He asked me the other day to check out our 1st grade photo to see if I could add to the identifications.

I did my best, but first and foremost is our teacher. Miss Burkholder, our 1st grade teacher, was a wonderful elderly spinster whose lived together with her bachelor brother and spinster sister and their many cats. All taught school. All were beloved by their students. I trace my love of reading to her teaching us phonics at a time they were out of favor. We’d sound out words and determine where the syllables ended and started.

At the start of the year, Miss Burkholder gave out big pencils, with the instruction not to chew on them. I missed the instruction and the consequences for ignoring (or being ignorant of) them: If you didn’t chew on your pencil, you got a new one at the start of the semester, or not if you did chew on it! I chewed on mine, and I was very disappointed not to get a shiny new pencil like most of my class.

I'm the cute little rascal in the second row, three in from the right. Curiously enough, I was wearing a jacket at an inappropriate time, something I am likely to do these days. It's a matter of having enough pockets, or so I'll tell you!

I’m the cute little rascal in the second row, three in from the right. Curiously enough, I was wearing a jacket at an inappropriate time, something I am likely to do these days. It’s a matter of having enough pockets, or so I’ll tell you!

If you misbehaved in class or during fire drills, you had to sit on the dark tiles you see in the photo. They were red. I remember once Steve (third in from left in the middle row) and I talked during a fire drill, so we were placed on the red tiles when the class came back in from the play ground. That was the first and only time I was disciplined by a teacher.

I remember once Miss Burkholder coming to school, whistling. I was awestruck! “I didn’t know teachers could whistle…! ” the tender aged me exclaimed. “Why, of course they can!” she told me. I don’t know what amazed me more: that teachers can whistle or that a woman teacher can. Those were uninformed times!

As for identifying any of the students (over 60 years later), I can name maybe 17 of the 30, but the rest are strangers to me. I hope other people in this class photo fill in the blanks.

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39 thoughts on “Post 1025: when I was a “wee fart”…!

  1. I am about 20 years younger than you, have only about 21 classmates of my first year at school – and could not name them all! Lost contact with them, since I moved away and we went to different secondary schools, anyway.

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    • Yes, that seems to be the way of the world, eh?! In my town, there were three elementary schools (Kindergarten up to 6th grade or 5-12 years old). Kids in junior high (13-15 years old and high school (16-18) came from all of the three elementary schools. The social breakdown was (to give a very general sense of it!): athletes, band kids, manual arts kids, future farmer kids, nerds, social outcasts.

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      • The village school I attended (a big village with 8 classes in four years) had a few future farmers, too, some went on to learn a trade, others started as builders. The girls will have been marrying. Most of them. There were a few candidates which might have gone on to university. But back in those days we still parted our school education into those supposed to work in manual jobs – Hauptschule. Those supposed to work menial office jobs (Realschule). And those supposed to work in administrations higher echelons or to go on to university (Gymnasium – I know that YOU lot call a sports facility a gym …)
        I read an article yesterday about this having been upturned in the last 20 years – these days they try to get 70 % of all children to go through higher education … stupid, if you ask me. Not all of them will end up as scientists or engineers.

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      • i agree with you on that. People need to recognize that not all kids aren’t capable of degree work at university, and that many don’t want to pursue a degree anyway! I felt your system made sense when German friends explained it to me.

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      • I personally think you are. On top of that, your exports tend to be high end products like Mercedes Benzes and Leicas. The cost of the export isn’t the issue for most people, it’s the quality, and Germans are excellent examples of how to produce quality, high end products for export!

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      • Well, Sennheiser (known for quality micro- and headphones) tried to produce in a cheaper EU-country. They returned – for the quality of work they got here. And not only them.
        “Die meisten Rückverlagerungen kamen in den letzten drei Jahren mit fast der Hälfte der Nennungen aus den neuen EU-Staaten (Osteuropa), danach folgen asiatische Länder – außer China – mit 27 %. 15 % der befragten Unternehmen holten ihre Fertigung aus China nach Deutschland zurück.”

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      • That’s a pathetic record for recalls! I guess someone at the factory said, “Well, they won’t know good quality when they see it, so we can cut corners.” That’s more of an American business approach! It costs businesses in the long run, however, and smart businessmen know not to try it.

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      • Thought so. That is why I corrected your impression. Sennheiser was ONE of many companies who thought twice about their abroad investments.
        I don’t know why, because I think other workers are not lazy or stupid. But it seems they just get the high quality products when producing in Germany.

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      • The co-founder of Sony, Akio Morita, wrote in one of his books (Made in Japan, I think) that his comany was able to get Japanese-level quality in any country they produced goods.

        He noted that Japanese are inclined to view a tolerance of +/- .005 inch (or whatever metric unit) as a goal to beat. If +/-.005″ is the engineering spec., producing something at +/-.004″ is better and +/-.001″ even more desireable!

        You tell an American that tolerance is +/- .005″, he assumes he can run product withing that whole .010″ range. Of course, if you tell him the tolerance is “+/-001″, he’ll produce the same level of quality as the Japanese worker, though he doesn’t know the acceptable tolerance allows him +.004″ more on the top and -.004” more on the bottom.

        Morita said knowing the thought process of the workers in each country where they made product was how they maintained the well-known and desired Japanese level of quality.

        I’m not sure things were all this simple, but the basic idea is sound. The closer you produce product the the high and low end of a product tolerance , the greater the chances are of producing product outside tolerance.

        “Tolerance stack up” issues then become a problem, too. If product made at the bottom of the tolerance, but in tolerance, at one stage of production is mated to something in the next stage of production that was run at the top of the tolerance, and so on (in more complex products), the final product is more likely going to be unacceptable for use.

        Ideally (if unrealistically) there will be no deviation from the desired dimension at each stage of production. That’s where people like me when I was analyzing producty measurements in the factory where I worked came into the picture. Our job was to help workers know what trends we found in their output, how well they and their machines were holding to desired tolerances. (A very simplistic explanation of statistical process control….)

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  2. I think phonics are very useful, so don’t understand why only a few teachers taught them. I hear that cursive is no longer taught, too.
    Did your love of cats also begin with Miss Burkholder?

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  3. We had a class of forty five plus at age eleven and by then everybody could read and knew enough Maths to give change if they worked in a shop. Nowadays, hardly any young people can. Many young people are sent to school at age four or five still wearing nappies.

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  4. Aww, look at you, you little cutie! Do you know who the fellow in the back row, right side is? He probably went on to be a highly paid CEO of a big company!

    30 students in a class, nowadays teachers would freak out at that ratio.

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    • The photo brought out most of them! I forgot about the red tiles, the whistling, and that two kids in the back row actually were in my first grade class. Both had serious illn esses (scarlet fever) as kindergarteners, and my sense of it was that they both were held back a year because they missed so much school. Either they had the illness in 1st grade instead, or they were put in a different teacher’s class. I don’t know for sure now!

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  5. That is a great class photo, Doug! I remember having about 20 people in a class. It was a rural area. Yes, education has changed a lot over the years. If only they could take the best of the old ways and combine with the best of the new!

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    • Rural students came into town at 8th grade level. The thing that always struck me was they tended to be better students and behaved better. I think it was because they came from schools much like yours where there were small classes, sometimes several grades in one room so the younger students got the benefit of exposure to material above their age level at an earlier age.

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  6. haha…great memories! The powers that be, pulled down my school and built a mall. My school was across from a funeral home. You know when we were going to school, we never noticed the funeral home. I guess our world was much smaller back then.

    Jean

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    • My state used to have lots of rural schools. At one popint, they (the state) started bussing kids to centrally located schools, and the old rural school were closed and sold for whatever purpose people wanted them for. Some were just torn down. It was controversial at the time, and people still complain about it!

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      • The local Catholic school when from a kindergarten througfh 12th grade school to a K-8th grade school at one point because of declining enrollment and teaching staff that was getting a bit thin, too. (Miss Burkholder taught there for awhile after she retired from public school….!) Now, when classes have reunions, the Catholic kids join us. Makde sense to do this because there are so few “kids” left who went through 12 grades at St. Agnes, which is a block away from the public high school, and most of us know each other one way or other anyway. I think it is a great way to go!

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  7. Great photo, my 30 yr. reunion is next year- I wonder how many I would know out of a class photo from grade 1. I guess the red tiles were like a version of “time-out” .

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  8. Mrs buckholders had a lot of bucks to lead and teach so she used of the whistle.
    You are amazing to recognize so many of your comrade in the tender age of 1er degre . I do not think to be able to do this . It is true during this 1er grade it was the war here with bombings . So no photo
    In froendship
    Michel

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    • I think the fact that most of these “kids” spent a lot of time in the same classes with the same teachers helped. That and the fact that this is a smallish town of under 9000 souls!

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