My school days are not some of my fondest memories but there were some years scattered here and there which were good overall. My second and third grade years in school were two such years.
We attended Second Baptist Church in Alpine. It is no longer in existence. But when it was in existence the church opened a Christian school and I attended it for two years. The back part of the church was designated the school room and it accommodated second through twelfth grades. The Kindergarten and first grade classes were held in a mobile home that sat on the church property.
Just prior to attending this school I had started reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and I was fascinated with her description of the one-room schoolhouse she attended. Added to that, my father had attended a one-room schoolhouse. I was completely disillusioned with modern institutional schools after my first grade experience and so I had high hopes for my new one-room school experience. I was not disappointed.
It was the standard model of private Christian school for its day. The desks were partitioned off into cubicles which were called ‘offices’. I liked my ‘office’. It had a cubby hole to place my workbooks in. The workbooks were called ‘paces’. As the curriculum was set up, I was allowed to set the number of pages I wanted to do in each of my workbooks for the entire week. I am sure they had a minimum page requirement but if a student wanted to work more than that minimum they could. Instead of an instructing teacher we had monitors who walked around the room waiting for someone to raise a flag on their desk if they had a question.
I didn’t particularly like the polyester uniforms we had to wear but other than that I didn’t have much to complain about. The uniforms were a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. All the girls had to wear dresses which was fine until a sandstorm kicked up and pelted our legs with grit until they stung.
There was no playground other than a small slab of concrete someone poured atop a hill. We would often play foursquare up there. Other than that we were content to run around on the rock covered ground. The only rule I remember was that no one was allowed to throw rocks which was a major offense punishable by swats. I think some of the boys broke this rule occasionally, rock throwing being too much of a temptation for them.
From my old school, Tracy Windham also came to school there for a year. His parents moved somewhere else after that. I still liked Tracy and was the only girl to have the distinction of being called his girlfriend. I thought this was significant at the time. I was sad to see him go. I wouldn’t like another little boy so well until my fifth grade year in another school and in another town. I don’t know what ever happened to Tracy. I don’t suppose our paths will ever cross again. But my path did cross again with the other little boy that I met in the fifth grade and I married him when I was twenty-two when we were both in college. That is a story of another place and time however; it has nothing to do with Alpine.
My best friend during my second, third, and fourth grade years was a girl named Michelle. I don’t know what ever happened to Michelle. I hope she has had a happy life. When we first met her parents were separated or divorced. I had never encountered a friend from a divorced family until that time. She lived with her dad and her two sisters lived with her mom. At some point after meeting her, her parents decided to get back together. I never liked her sisters very much, they differed in looks and personality from Michelle, who of course, had a few freckles and mousey brown hair. The sisters were both blond and had clear complexions. That wasn’t the reason I didn’t like them. The older one had a superior attitude which was probably brought about by her being older than us. The younger sister whined and cried whenever she didn’t get her way and that annoyed me. I didn’t like whiny children very much. But I put up with the sisters because they were part of the package deal of having Michelle as my best friend.
I was distressed for a short time when third grade was about to begin. Michelle’s parents decided to put her and her sisters back into public school. I wasn’t sure how I could cope without Michelle. I remember praying for God to send me a friend who would also be in third grade or second grade even. I was desperate!
When school started there was a new second grade girl named Miriam who had short brown hair. I can’t remember if she had freckles or not. She had an annoying little sister too but I was used to that. They too were from a family broken by divorce and they lived with their father and grandmother.
From the moment I met Miriam she looked a bit lost and in need of a friend. I was happy to be that for her. I decided I was good at being a friend to the lonely and lost. I viewed it as a mission of sorts, maybe it was. It did give me a sense of purpose as I attended school.
I liked Miriam, but Michelle still remained my best friend and by the following year I wanted to go to the same school Michelle was attending. That marked the end of good school memories for quite a long time.