My grandson, Owen, was asked to find out from his grandparents what it was like for us when we were in second grade. It’s possible that I may have mixed up my years and included things from third grade as well … it was a long time ago … but I thought I would share my walk down memory lane, just for fun. (PS – Owen went to a Switchfoot concert one time when I was visiting, so we have a running joke about how I mix up what kind of foot the band was. You’ll see that reflected throughout the letter.)
I would love to hear your memories. What was your favorite thing about second grade?
Dear Owen —
I’m glad you’re taking the time from listening to Swingfoot CD’s to learn about second grade in other times.
The main thing I remember about second grade was a trip my family took during the summer. You know that Gigi and Poppy are my mom and dad, right?
We took a trip to Canada that year. When Gigi took me shopping for my clothes for the trip, I got a dress that was green with white and yellow flowers … and a matching hat. That hat was the most important part.
I knew that we were going to ride on a ferry — a big boat that you take your car on — to Vancouver Island. When we were preparing for that trip, I day dreamed a lot about about standing on the deck of that ferry in my new dress and hat, with big white sunglasses … like a movie star. In my day dream, a man fell off the ferry into the water. Having passed my beginner’s level in Red Cross swimming, I kicked off my shoes, tossed my hat to Gigi, and dove with perfect form into the sea to rescue him. I was a heroine … in my day dream.
In real life, we did ride that ferry from Washington to Vancouver Island, but no one fell into the water and I didn’t get to be a heroine. We saw real totem poles. And we visited Buchart Gardens. Poppy had given me my first camera — his old Pony camera. I took lots of pictures, black and white, because we didn’t have color photography yet.
On our way home, we visited Uncle Stan and Aunt Lois — this is not your Auntie Olo, but the aunt she was named for, Gigi’s big sister. We swam with our cousins in a river or a creek.
In addition to color photography, some of the other things we didn’t have were computers and the internet. You probably can’t imagine that, can you? We didn’t have CDs either. We had long-playing records. They would break or scratch easily. We had to play them on a record-player. My favorite record album was Sound of Music. I hadn’t seen the movie, so I made up my own story to go with the songs. My favorite song from that album was Do-Re-Mi. If there was a scratch on a record, it would just play the same phrase over and over. When that happened, we would all yell, “Scratch” and my brother, Uncle Russ, would jump up to fix it. Can you imagine listening to Stompfoot on long-playing records?
When I was in second grade, I loved to read. My grandpa, your great-great Grandpa Hanush, loaned me my first chapter book, Cheaper By the Dozen. Have you seen the movie? It took me a long time to read that book, in second grade.
We used to visit Grandpa and Grandma Hanush in Visalia. Grandpa and Grandma Hanush were Poppy’s mom and dad. Grandpa would cook a fancy supper and Grandma would keep their cocker spaniel, Jody, out of the carpeted rooms and especially away from the dinner table. Aunt Toni was 9 years older than me. She taught me how to use an eyelash curler. Grandpa had a cactus garden that I really liked.
We would also visit Grandpa and Grandma Black, who were Gigi’s mom and dad. They had a ranch outside Visalia, where Grandpa grew walnuts. Grandma made pickled peaches, which were my favorite. She canned them and had shelves and shelves full of jars of pickled peaches. She also had a lot of pots of African violets. She would set them on her dryer, so they would stay warm and get plenty of humidity. When we had Sunday dinner with them, Grandma would let me cut out the biscuits and eat some of the biscuit dough. After supper, she would take Grandpa’s eye out and wash it. Then she would set it on a spool of thread on the kitchen table to dry. I was afraid to walk past it.
My cousins also lived on Grandpa’s ranch. Luanne and I liked to feed the goats hay. When there were babies, we got to play with them. In the summer, we would go across the street to the St. John River, which was mostly dry, and catch little, tiny frogs.
When I was in second grade, my teacher was Mrs. Bettencourt. I had to go to a new school, called Brown School, where I made new friends. I started helping in the library at school. I learned to put away the books in the right places. I also wrote my first poem, which was published in the school paper.
An important thing that happened that year was that men landed on the moon for the very first time! You can see what we saw on TV that day here:
One of the things people were afraid of at that time was that we might have too many people on earth before too long. There were 3 billion people then, and the number was growing rapidly. In our Social Studies textbook, it said that when we grew up, people would have to live in space stations and other places. It showed a drawing of people riding on a rocket, kind of like a bus, to go shopping in space.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about what it was like for me in 1969-1970, when I was in second grade. One thing I never imagined then, was that I would have a wonderful grandson like you, Owen. You’re so smart and caring. I like the way that you are helpful and funny. I miss you. Do you still go to Snailfoot concerts?
I love you!