In my mind, fifth grade was always the beginning of being a “big kid,” even though our elementary school went through sixth grade. There were 3 fifth grade classes, and the teachers were southern talkin’ Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Elsner (my homeroom teacher; I don’t have many clear memories of her), and Mr. Hulfachor, who was a novelty as my first “man teacher!”
There I am, 3rd row far right, in the “Bicentennial dress” that my mom made. My best friend Miriam is two to the left of me, wearing a blue jumper with an apple(?) on the front.
Memories inspired by the photo … my word, is Keith wearing a leisure suit in the first row? Sure looks like it! Louis, who always insisted on saying “A PLUS” (not just plain “A”) when he called out his grade; Chuck the class clown; “farting Tom” who sadly has his eyes shut, he was the class oddity who took a shine to me (wouldn’t ya know?); Laurie, a quiet girl who later scandalized our school by having an affair with the high school psychology teacher (he ended up getting divorced, marrying her and moving to Texas).
See Mr. Hulfachor there on the back row? See that little curl in the center of his forehead? That was the subject of endless talk among us kids. Several girls swore they had seen him in front of the bathroom mirror with a curler in it! (how they saw him in the bathroom was never explained). I remember him paddling kids (yes, ornery kids were actually paddled then). Once he took Tonda outside of class and we all listened, wide-eyed, as we heard the paddle fall several times. To Tonda’s credit, she didn’t scream.
I see Todd on the back row … each day we had “milk time” where cartons of milk were brought to the room and if you had paid for it, you drank it. The boys began a competition of seeing who could “kill” their milk first (this referred to drinking the entire carton as fast as possible in a single long gulp). One day Todd won, shouted, “finished!” only to immediately throw up. I remember staring fearfully at the vomit, which landed only an inch or so from my desk, and gingerly climbing out of my seat to safety.
It’s interesting that I recall very little of the reason I was actually in fifth grade – academics. I do remember we had to memorize a long list of present, past and past participle verbs (eat, ate, eaten; run, ran, ran; etc), and I don’t think kids do that anymore. Occasionally in my mind I will still run over a verb when I’m not sure of the past participle form.
If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard
So – what are your fifth grade memories?