I started school in 1971 at age 5. I attended Catholic school in Dallas, even though I wasn't Catholic; mainly because my mother had taught me to read and write when I was 4 and Dallas public schools would not allow 5-year-olds to begin first grade. Since my birthday was in October, I would've to have waited another year to begin class. The Catholics allowed non-Catholic children to attend class there as long as their parents didn't have a problem with the kids attending catechism class and morning mass. So, I was Catholic for a year.
We got to wear cute little uniforms, which I loved. My mom was working two jobs to support me after my parents' divorce and she didn't have any extra money for stylish clothes or indeed sometimes for food, so my clothes would be quite threadbare. Kids can be very cruel if you were different in any way; the uniform meant that I looked like everyone else and I was grateful for that. I already felt very apart from everyone, even at that young age. We used Big Chief tablets to write in (with a picture of a hippie on the front; not the ones with an Indian chief) and those big fat pencils to write with.
My teacher was Sister Bernadette, who dressed in a pantsuit with her veil. I remember being smacked across the knuckles with a ruler when she caught me trying to write left-handed like my mother. Our class went on several great field trips; the Schweppes ice cream factory (we got little containers of peppermint ice cream), the Mrs. Baird's Bakery on Mockingbird (we got little loaves of bread) and the Dr Pepper bottling plant (guess what we got there?).
My mom could only afford for me to attend one year and she wasn't wild about me actually becoming Catholic if I stayed any longer (her family was Southern Baptist. She didn't tell any of them that I was in Catholic school; they would have shit a brick!) so for second grade, I would attend Reinhardt Elementary in east Dallas. More to come.......
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