6th Grade – Joy
6th grade. We used to pledge allegiance to the flag, sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, and then say a short prayer for the day. Teachers wore ties and dress shirts or dresses/dress slacks. We looked like little ladies and gentleman in our polyester “good” clothes. This was in regular, public elementary school. Girls had a “hush, hush” film we watched – boys were ushered out! – about menstruation. We felt scared and excited for it it to happen. Sex Ed? That was it! Guess what, no girl got pregnant at 13. No one knew how to get on drugs if they wanted to. We were hooked on Jolly Ranchers and Pac-Man. We played outside until dark and then you heard moms around the neighborhood calling kids. “Coming mom!” at the top of our lungs. (Back then, we had a healthy respect (okay FEAR) of our moms. Moms ruled the roost and you knew your place, along with “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.”) We were usually called in about dinner time (in winter.) We seemed to eat early in warm months and then were allowed to run outside and play for hours! The entire family ate together, 4 of us, every single night. If not, it was because a neighborhood friend invited us over. Phone calls ensued between the moms (“Are you SURE it is no trouble?) which sealed the deal. My best friend’s mom was a divine cook. She had tea glasses with Japanese ladies in kimonos on them. They fascinated me. More than anything, she made a Cherry Cheese Cake that was simply Mine. It existed for me alone, I knew it. It was the culinary highlight of my young life. I would give any sum for all the old dishware and serving ware, including the kimono glasses. Maybe another reason I collect vintage tableware now; never thought of it. Well, this was in a small city in Texas. Maybe it was just our halcyon bubble, but everything turned out alright for everyone, whether they left town after graduation or stayed. I’d love another day like 6th grade, just one day, now. I would love that feeling of wholesomness, innocence, unselfconsciousness, of joy, no reason, just laughing and running wild down the street…with pure kid Joy.