Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"School Days"

Yesterday, on Facebook, Joyce posted two pictures I'd posted a couple of years ago (see above). They showed Joyce and me in fourth grade. She was living in Akron's Firestone Park at the time; I, in Enid, Oklahoma. (I am three years older.) We both have laughed that it's  a good thing we didn't know each other then!

So perhaps it was that post that, later on yesterday, got me to thinking of this old school song I remember from boyhood:

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
'Reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick'ry stick
You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau,
And you wrote on my slate, "I Love You, Joe"
When we were a couple o' kids.

Trusty Wikipedia tells me the song was written in 1907 by Will Cobb and Gus Edwards. Doing a bit more Wikipediaing, I discovered that this was only the chorus. Here's a link to the sheet music for the entire song; it contains all the lyrics. And here's a link to an old, old recording.

I have no memory of when/how I learned the song; it's just one of those things from childhood that, later, you seem just to have always known. Like how to eat. Or breathe.

I do have one (uncomfortable) memory of the song. When I was in elementary school, I had a strong soprano voice (!!), and, as a result, teachers sometimes picked me to sing things. In public. And one year (3rd grade, I think--Mrs. Ziegler's class!) the teacher decided it would be cute (I guess) to have me and some girl (whose name I cannot recover) dress up like Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher and sing the song at an open house in our Adams School classroom.

I do remember I didn't want to do what the teacher insisted we do: hold hands and swing them while we sang. At that age, I had no desire to hold a girl's hand--and certainly NOT in public! But I did, wishing and praying that Time would accelerate to warp speed (though at the time I'd never heard of that term--Star Trek lay in the future). Time didn't cooperate. It d-r-a-g-g-e-d. But the parents all smiled and swayed in their seats while I blushed as red as an ashamed sunrise.

As I look at the lyrics, I don't believe we sang the verses to the song. (They don't look/sound at all familiar.) But ... anything's possible. All this happened sixty-four years ago.

So ... perhaps it was those FB pictures--and thinking about 4th grade--that popped those lyrics into my head once again. Joyce and I were driving back from an evening visit to the Starbucks drive-thru in Aurora when I started singing--my soprano long gone.

And what a dark coincidence that barely a half-day later I got the horrible news that Mike Lenzo, one of the first principals I worked for early in my middle school teaching career--beginning in 1968--passed away this morning. He was a profound influence on me--educationally, personally--and his loss is a mighty blow to the stability of the heart of the world.

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