Dick Newman: A boy in the forties: School Days Part One
It was September, 1941 and I was embarking on my scholastic career. We lived on 26th Street and 4th Avenue in Huntington's East End. A little over a block away set Emmons Elementary, a proud facility that also provided for my Mother's elementary education.
I remember the first day. I wandered into my first grade classroom and not wanting to miss anything, I chose a seat near the front, to my right of the teacher's desk. The teacher was Rose Henderson. Miss Henderson greeted us and told us of what we could expect for that school year. She mentioned recess and said if the weather was bad that there was a basement for recess activity.
She showed us the coat closet. I'll never forget the yellow raincoats that were on the rack there, nor will I ever forget the odor that emanated from the raincoat material. Fortunately, I never had to wear one.
I remember the cursive letters above the blackboard, the scroll and oval practice, the sharp pen points and the messy ink, the arithmetic drills, the spelling tests and the sound of her voice and her red hair. I also remember the report cards I took home for my parent's perusal and signature.
I competed with my friend, Walter Bragg, on the timed arithmetic tests. Walter never knew that, but I would watch when he turned in his paper and compare my progress to that. Actually, we usually wound up in a dead-heat, both having satisfactory performances.
One of the highlights of that year was when we joined Mrs. Snead's first grade class for "Rin Tin Tin" movies. How exciting to watch the dogs working in the snow with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Something perhaps more exciting than those movies was when I got to sit next to Becky Marshall.
We hadn't been in class long, when in December, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That was certainly a great influence on my life, learning of other countries and people and following our heroes who were protecting us on the various fronts. I remember once in hearing of firing squads and worrying that the Nazis might come to our school and line us up against the brick wall in the front of our school building.
On the nice days we went out for recess and I would romp around the grounds with my friend Jimmy, playing Cowboys and Indians. Mother packed my lunch in a small metal lunch box. By lunch time, I was always ready to eat.
Now the school, the building, Miss Henderson and many of my classmates are gone - maybe one large oak tree with its massive roots remains, but the memories of that school and that room on the southeast corner of the building, still linger with me.
Dick Newman is a lifelong Huntington resident.
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