Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More about high school

I had no idea what high school would be like. We didn't have junior high in our town, we just had grades K through 8 all in the same building. I knew nothing about lockers, changing classes, gym class, showers, running through halls to get to the next class, homeroom, etc. I knew nothing about homework.

I think the biggest shock about high school was that EVERY SINGLE TEACHER ASSIGNED HOMEWORK. Why we couldn't do the work in class stymied me. Since I had no study hall I had to lug home six books every night; and book bags had not yet been invented!

The locker situation was one where I had a locker and two "bullies" had adjoining lockers. I had little enough time to get to my locker between classes, let alone put up with two "bully boys" who thought it funny to slam my locker closed every time I opened it. I handled that situation by learning a couple of self-defense moves, and they left me alone. I also went in early to get to my locker, and left late. They weren't around at those times.

I had never eaten in a cafeteria (other than Horn and Hardarts) in my life, so I knew nothing about cafeteria etiquette -- if there is such a thing. I figured it was get in line and wait until it was my turn to be served. Because the lines were so long, and that left little time to scarf down my food, I didn't buy my lunch very often. Bagging it was much easier. At least I had friends and we all sat at the same table every day, so a seat was saved if one of us decided to buy our lunch.

I had a love/hate relationship (if you can have a relationship) with gym class, a.k.a. physical education or phys ed for short. We never called it physical education or phys ed. It was gym. I loved gym, the action, the sports, the running, jumping, leaping, hand stands, etc. I despised the afterward -- the "you must take a shower" part. There were NO private showers, only a gang shower -- that meant all the girls in the class had to shower at the same time. I was (still am) body shy. I had a horrible figure. Actually, I had NO figure. I was stick skinny. And those teachers sat in a chair and made sure you took a shower after class. They actually checked off your name. You were allowed to miss FOUR showers per month -- all in one week. I don't have to tell you what that was for.

I was good at anything the gym teachers threw at us. I always got an "A". Yippee! An "A" in phys ed! That will get you a good job after high school. NOT.

I also loved my music classes whether it was orchestra or choir or girls chorus. I liked most of my teachers. And while most students didn't like Miss Magargee, I really liked her. I had her for two years of high-school English. She was heavy on grammar. And she always knew if you had or hadn't completed your homework. I guess she could tell a guilty look when she saw one. I only missed on assignment in those two years and she caught me. Can you believe that? I had a perfect record and in my senior year, toward the end of my senior year I missed one assignment, and she caught me. I couldn't believe it. How did she know? It had to be the twitchy eyes or the trial look of innocence. I don't know, but she knew. I don't think it dropped my grade much because I always received an "A" in her class. But the threat of a lower grade kept me doing those homework assignments -- all but one.

So high school, being what it was, a stepping stone, actually, to college, then life, was not the best time of my life. I survived -- like who thought I wouldn't.

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