Fourth Grade

Mrs. Secrest was my fourth grade teacher. I do not have much memory of this class. The biggest thing that I remember is that I had come in contact with poison oak or ivy at some point during the school year and it got all over my face. My face was really swollen. I was afraid to tell Mrs. Secrest what was really wrong with my face so I made up a story that I was hit with a stick or something in the face and it had swollen. I’m not sure if I told her it was my brothers or someone else. I think I said it was one of my brothers. I may have said it was a bat instead of a stick. I can’t remember exactly.

I have no idea why I said this. The lie seems worse than the truth, but somehow in my head I thought the truth was more embarrassing than the made up story. This may have been because no one else ever seemed to struggle with poison oak. I have no clue. We were in contact with poison oak all the time. We lived in the country and were always tromping in the woods. I suppose the story about the stick or bat sounded more “manly”. I don’t know. I think she got to the bottom of it and that was that. The rash went away and I went on with life.

During these early school years Wingate Elementary had what we called Harvest Festival. I suppose these school-wide events happened in the Fall. It was like an open house where each classroom fixed up their room with some kind of game that the kids came and played and won prizes. For example I seem to remember our first grade class having some kind of barrier over the door with an opening at the top of it about two feet or so. We would be given fishing poles of sorts and would cast a line through the opening and someone would be on the other side of the partition to attach a prize on the clothes pin. The other classes would do other things and it was a fun event to look forward to. I don’t know who administrated it, if we had a role as students or anything else about it. I do remember it was fun.

Another event that happened during these early years of school is that once per year our underwear would severely itch in some of the most uncomfortable ways. After a couple of years of this it became expected and dreaded. We never knew when it would come, how long it would last and why it was happening to us brothers. Somehow my mother figured out that she washed her drapes once per year and they had a lot of fiberglass in them and the fiberglass would get all over our underwear. I assume she washed them together. It was a pleasant revelation to know the culprit. I think by the time I was in the fourth grade the problem was figured out. It was a dreadful thing to look forward to each year.

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