Sunday, July 19, 2009

what was it about that school?

I just joined a facebook group for my elementary school. It got me to thinking about the positive experiences about that particular school and I can count only a few. I have very few little happy thoughts about R.A. Mitchell Elementary School. Like any red blooded and plastic fanged American kid - I loved the big Halloween Carnival they had there. That was pretty cool. Did you know that the school actually owned the coffin that was used in the Haunted House walk? That's kind of creepy to think that that coffin was always back there behind the curtains of the stage. I remember seeing it back there during the school year. I was stuck back there with a few other 'slow learners' for some kind of *remedial reading class. They didn't have a classroom for us - so they stuck us back there beyond the school lunchroom, behind the stage in a dark cubby of an area amid the P.E. gear - and of course, the school coffin.

*remedial reading 1. specialized reading instruction adjusted to the needs of a student who does not perform satisfactorily with regular reading instruction. 2. intensive, specialized reading instruction for students reading considerably below expectancy. 3. developmental reading instruction set at a different pace, designed for an individual or a selected group.

Everyone feared Mrs. Love - the principal. Mrs. Graves was so demented that she should have never gotten tenure. Even my mother hated talking to her. Mrs. Graves could only talk in your face...literally. She would get right down into your face with her big wicked witch of the South look and talk at you from an inch distance. I thought it was just the kids she tried to constantly intimidate- but nooo - it was moms too! The first cussing I'd ever heard was in her class - from that sailor mouth of hers. Nasty old woman once tried to get my little sister to stand in a trash can because she wanted Cindy to believe that she was trash. I believed it when I Cindy came home with the story because I had been that monster's chew toy the year before.

All the kids remember 'the pink bench' every day. The pink bench is where you were sent to sit to see the principal. Kids sitting on the pink bench were either sick and waiting for their ride home or waiting for Love in all the wrong places. You could tell what they were waiting on by the look on their faces - sick or abject fear.

I didn't really know Mrs. Love, I kept my distance as any self preserving child would do. You kept from her not because she ruled her school with an iron hand - but rather with the mythical
'ELECTRIC PADDLE'. That's right, children would reverently pass her door quietly and with great respect because of the fear of that contraption's existence. It was a tangible myth for a young mind - rumored about from generation to generation. Do they speak of it still?

The walls of R.A. Mitchell were a drab green - and to be herded down those long dark hallways were so depressing. If I were given the task of naming that paint color - I would have named it Institutional Oppresive Green. How many days did I look out the window - thinking that I might pull a Steve McQueen and break out and away from those walls? Countless days and countless times, but I was whipped by fear. All I had to do during recess was casually walk toward the street - look like I'm supposed to be heading in that direction - somehow make it across the bridge and then a few miles home. I knew though, that escape was futile. I did not want to be brought back and test the myth.
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