Friday, June 4, 2010

Third Grade

Washington School, Canon City: Grades 3 & 4. Building no longer exists, only the bell.

Oh, Frabjeous Day! School's out, teacher's let the monkeys out. "No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks."

But short-lived, and all too soon September returns again. The boy is going to a "new" school this year. That is to say, to the building where is housed grades three through five. I don't know why this structure, I just report, you decide. The main change in the school day routine is that now instead of walking half-mile to the north, The Boy must walk half-mile south.

Total report on inside-the-classroom for this year: 1) The Boy got his knuckles whacked once for something or other, and 2) he could not tell you the name of the teacher if his life literally depended upon it.

On the playground, the little guy found his metier, so to speak. For his father had taught him the correct method of shooting marbles. He was virtually undefeatable. The favorite game was a "golf" style game played with a rectangular array of holes in the dirt, with a fifth hole in the center. Plenty of marbles were thrown into a ring, too, and The Boy could knock the dickens out of them. There was, however, a small problem attendant to this exercise, which was the The Boy, son of a preacher man, was not allowed, in fact was taught it was wrong, to play for "keeps." He could have been the richest marble miser on the East Slope of the Rockies, if only.

Yet another entertainment, almost as important as the playing of marbles itself, was the trading of marbles. The kids had them all categorized and had developed some sort of table of values in their heads, a virtual Kelly Blue Book of marbledom. The Boy specialized in the collection of "cons" (he lived in a prison town.) This required shrewd dealing, because cons* were worth three or four, or even more glassies.

Oooh, how The Boy hated to hear the bell that ended recess. Ended life, really it did, until the next time they were released to the playground.

*Cons were basic white marbles with gray striping. Get it?


Jim said...

Okay, why was it okay to trade marbles but not win them?p

Secondary Roads said...

Yah, I get it. I was more into comic book swaps than marble games. The ditty we used to recite at the end of the school year was:
School's out. School's out.
Teacher let the fools out.
Open the door and ring the bell.
Tell the teacher that she's swell.

At least that the way I choose to remember it.

Vee said...

Whatever happened to marbles and jacks as favored playground activities?

Lin said...

Playground?? Our kids could barely cram their lunches down in the short time they had for lunch break, more or less have time for jacks or marbles. Teachers unions have killed our school day--reducing the time for lunch/recess to 20 minutes. It's sad for the kids not to have that time for such fun. Recess was a blast when I was a kid.

vanilla said...

Chuck, my friend Wes and I kept our "shared comics collection" at his house. Though our parents were ministers, his were perhaps a little less rigid. I did bring the comics home one or two at a time and when questioned as to origin, ownership, etc. I would say they belong to Wes. Conveniently forgetting to add "and me." I like the way you recall the verse.

Vee, I don't know authoritatively exactly when and how those wholesome pastimes disappeared, but it happened somewhere between the time I finished elementary school as a student and started elementary school again as a teacher.
During that time frame the following occured:
1) Television became pretty much universally broadcast and pretty much received in most American homes.
2) Ray Kroc's enterprise pretty much overspread the country like a fast-growing fungus.
3) Many homes, it seems to me, became "roosting places" for the few hours between the time frenetic activities ended and the alarm sounded to awaken the inhabitants to another round of more of the same.
I am not necessarily making an argument that there is a cause/effect relationship to be inferred. I understand that in certain technologically less advanced parts of the world, marbles (and perhaps jacks) are sill played.

Jim, the second is gambling, which is a vice; the first is commerce. If I were to "put up" a bunch of marbles against a bunch of yours for a shootout, winner take all, one of us would go home deprived, the other sated. Oh, and should I happen to know that you didn't have a chance, I would be running a con. Mom didn't want to raise a hustler. (I wasn't allowed to play pool, either.) If we are trading marbles, we come to an ageement that is mutually satisfactory, each of us getting something we want. Suppose I offer to trade to you my 2009 Escalade and my 50" HDTV for your cherry 1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari. You have the option to trade or refuse. Either way, no one is hurt. Always happy to provide an ethical insight. ;>) btw, I don't have an Escalade.

Amen, Sister. Preach it Lin. I was a school principal for eighteen years, and had to fight tooth and nail to keep recess times for the kids. I think we still have a couple (I've seen kids on the playground from time to time) but it is a shame that children today are not allowed time for free play and kid-to-kid interaction without some adult "organizing" everything.