For Nathan — Dad’s First Grade


Dear Nathan,
When I was in first grade, I was 6 at the beginning of school in September and turned 7 in the middle of the year. That was in 1974. I lived in a town called Spencerport, NY, with Grandpa Tom and Grandma Katie. (Uncle Jim was not born yet!). We had a black cat named Figaro — that is the same name as the cat in the movie “Pinocchio.” Grandma Katie picked his name.
Because my town was so big, I had to ride a bus to school. I would walk down the end of our driveway and then down about four or five more houses to get on the bus at one spot with all the other kids on my street.
My school was in a big building that had all the kids from the whole town in one building, even big kids in high school. But my classroom was not just for first grade. Because there were not a lot of kids in Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade, all three classes were in one big, big classroom, about three times as big as your class. So there were kids in my classroom who were younger and older than me. My picture of my whole class had everyone in it. I think it was about 25 kids all together.
I remember my teacher, Mrs. Hartman. She was the same teacher that I had the year before when I was in Kindergarten. Her hair was long, brown, and straight. She was very nice. When I was learning to read, I read books about Dick and Jane, just like the ones we have at home. They were in a big yellow workbook, but only the pages on the right-hand side of the book were for reading (the other side was upside-down). Then, when I got to the end of the worksheets, I flipped the book around and all the other sheets were now right-side up so I could do those worksheets. Reading was my favorite part of school.
When I was in first grade, I wore glasses too. One day, I was doing monkey bars in gym class. I fell down, and my glasses broke. A little piece of the glass cut me where my eyebrow is. I went to the hospital, and Grandma Katie came to check on me. I was okay, but I had to have stitches to make the cut small so it would heal. If you look super-carefully under my eyebrow, you might be able to see the scar from those stitches. I forgot about it until just now!