Sunday, March 5, 2017

I Do Love Spring, Mostly

When I was a youngun, Spring was the harbinger of summer vacation. It meant that school was fixin' to get ready to be finished just here in a day or two. It also meant the suspense of finding out if you had been  "passed on". I would look at Laura Alice or Carolyn, and wonder how it would feel to KNOW you were going to pass the 6th grade.

The first hint of Spring would be you didn't feel the sting of frosty wind as you stood at your post by the bike rack from 7:30 to 8:00 each morning. I was charged with making sure the bike riders put their bikes in the rack, and nobody messed with the Cushman Eagle, and Vespa motor scooters. Bike riders were bad to hide their bikes in the privet bushes so as to make a quiet get away at lunch hour.

 I was tapped to be on the School Boy Patrol, the official CIA of every school in America, I was charged with ratting on my peers in hopes of getting a trip to Washington DC.

I began to deal with peers on a one to one basis without adult intervention.  The art of deals, favors, and retribution were all part of the learning experience. A Snickers bar isn't a bribe; it's deal making.  He takes his bike to lunch, I get a candy bar. I don't tell on you and vice versa. If  you get caught off school grounds you face the music. If you rat on you, I get an ass whuppin from a "jury" of my peers. Fair enough. What starts at the bike rack stays at the bike rack. Snicker bars are good. So is not eating at the school cafeteria.

The second signs of Spring were the Crocus and Daffodils. The arrival of  Robins broke the monotony of constant blah blah blah of  Miss Lucky babbling about whatever. Robin visited the school grounds looking for worms or the discarded peanut butter sandwiches, or jelly biscuits in the "brown bag".

Miss Lucy Clarke's D's and F's were worrisome, but the Spring sun made my life brighter and warmer. I began to take the occasional book home. I figured this would counteract parental suspicions that my school work was secondary. I remained tight lipped under questioning.

I began to follow my sister's lead; I went to my room "to study" after supper.  My newly acquired Sears "Airline" electric guitar was very quiet with no amplifier. Mel Bay's Beginner Guitar Book was vastly more fascinating than Tressler's English textbook.

Finally, first "warm" morning in March when a light flannel shirt sufficed! The sun was up as I walked to my post at the bike rack each day. Forsythia, Flowering Quince and Bradford Pear made the world seem brighter and righter.

School was worrisome. My  grades were now C's and D's with no F's. It was announced were were to be subjected to Achievement Tests. These would be used to help determine pass/fail of the 6th grade. Three sharp #2 pencils and the willingness to put black dots on small circles followed by vague questions with 3 chances for a right answer was my introduction to gambling. I suppose I won.

I remember stepping off  Mr. Smith's school bus for the final time on Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. I had a report card stamped PROMOTED. It was proof I was a genius, and a better guitar player. I would see my peers next fall in a new room with a new teacher.

Spring had banished Old Man Winter and the 6th grade forever, except in memory.


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