January 2, 2017

Kindergarten Days

When I first got the genealogy/family history "bug" some years back I was determined that my children and grandchildren would have roots. They would know from who and where they had come. I have worked hard on my family tree collecting and preserving photos and documents, writing down memories and stories told to me by my parents and grandparents.

One of my grandsons bears the middle name Dionicio. A tribute to his paternal grandfather who died way way too young. Another grandson bears my husbands name as his middle name. A grand daughter was given the middle name of a treasured aunt. My oldest grand daughter's middle name is Ranae. You know what? I am now one of the ancestors. What do my descendants really know about me?  The three oldest know my first name. The youngest thought my name was papagramma and none knew my maiden name. I showed them this old photo. Who is this I asked? The oldest two knew mainly because they are mature enough to envision me 40 years younger and 30 lbs. lighter. Plus they remembered me being a nurse. When I am gone will anyone be able to tell the others that this was their grandmother? Who will tell them the story of how I became a nurse? The story of me? I never thought I had a very interesting life but I will bet neither did my grandparents.

That's me, second row, third from the left, in Kindergarten. I can't say that I really remember much at all about Kindergarten. We each brought a small blanket from home because we all took a daily nap and I threw up most every day before going to school. There was no preschool in my day and I probably don't remember much because I don't think much was expected from us. We colored with big thick crayons and we napped. Learning to write our name was probably as far as actual education got.

I do remember very clearly the first day of Kindergarten though. The dress I am wearing in the picture was bought for me by Grandma for my first day of school. It was organza, printed with little lavender flowers and a lavender ribbon for a belt. I had a stiff crinkly slip underneath and my Mom put my curly red hair into "dog ears" tied with lavender ribbons. I looked gooood. My Mom, wearing a hat and gloves, held my hand tightly and we walked into the auditorium of the Patrick Henry grammar school on Cullom and St Louis in Chicago. I know there were boys there but I must not have paid much attention to them because I only remember the girls. Most had their mothers with them and I, very conscious of wanting to look my best on this very important day, noticed that not all the little girls had dresses as nice as mine, or their hair fixed with barrettes and ribbons. Some girls wore clean but plain or obviously hand-me-down, sometimes ill-fitting dresses. Some girls didn't have their mother with them but perhaps an older sibling. A little girl who would later become my friend Karen came with an older sister that frightened me. She had a heavy steel brace on a leg that was withered and much shorter then the other. She limped decidedly. My mother must have sensed my fear because she whispered to me that Karen's sister had had polio but I did not have to worry because our Dr. Tunestam made sure I got a shot. On the stage, a stern looking lady in glasses and clunky black shoes read names from a piece of paper. When my name was called I kissed my Mom goodbye and followed a Kindergarten teacher out of the auditorium and into the school. I do not remember what her name was.

I think I especially remembered the first day of Kindergarten because at five years old it suddenly became clear to me I was entering a new world. A world sometimes very different from the love, security and safety of my home.  A world where not everybody had a Mom or a new dress from Grandma. Perhaps that's why I threw up every morning?

**click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing**