Do you remember walking to school? In these days of child abductions and helicopter parents more abundant than cold temps in winter, it’s rare for kids to walk to school anymore. But I enjoyed walking to school throughout my elementary days. It was just through the backyard, then a group of trees (I imagined them as a forest!), crossing a quiet street, through a field adjacent to the school, and then into the front door. A ten-minute walk with time to imagine, think, and sing (more on the singing later).
There are several memories of walking home. Once, older-and-dangerous Ray called me a “jive turkey.” He walked home the same way as me some days. I’m still not sure exactly what a jive turkey is. Another time, I walked home with my Papaw, who had visited school with me that day. When we reached the forest, I realized that I didn’t have a record (as in a 45, for all you old-timers) that I’d brought for show-and-tell. Papaw and I walked back to school, but it wasn’t there. So we re-traced our steps, only to find the record there in the woods, where we’d originally realized it was missing.
The house we’re standing by isn’t our own, but it has many memories. In kindergarten, I was walking past this house on my way home one day, happily singing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (which the wonderful internet informs me was that year’s #1 song). Who should jump out from behind this very house but an evil
middle school junior high boy, with a knife! Today, this would probably be grounds for some major press coverage. As it was, I was merely slightly startled and continued on my way home, although I think I did stop singing.
Years later, I spent many hours at this house babysitting Jake, Josh, and Adrienne. I got to know the inside of that house almost as well as my own, and read many Babar books to the kids there. To this day, I owe my ability to “do voices” and improvise on a stale story to all those babysitting evenings. This house was also the home of the gentleman who walked me home one night after babysitting, shocking me by shaking hands with a sunflower along the driveway (those of you who’ve read I Love to Tell the Story may remember this tale).
Taking the photo, my mom. Behind me, another house to pass, a field to cross, and the school (not visible) to enter. I learned a lot at that school and it launched me into life well-prepared. In junior high and high school, I rode the bus. This was a great adventure at first, but I always looked back fondly on those walks.
How about you? Did you walk to school?