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.
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.