Sometimes it seems life presents a pattern of embarrassing situations. School was more than frequently a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. My teachers got a few laughs because I was so literal in my understandings of what was said, and I would often be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I remember being dropped off at the front door on my first day of school in Duttonsville Grade School, on the hill in Cavendish Vermont. The School was a three room school with grades 1 thru 8. One room held first and second grade, another was for grades 3, 4, and 5 and the last room was for grades 6, 7 and 8. Each room had one wall with large windows and venetian blinds. I think the first and second grade room was the only one with windows on 2 walls. The auditorium and stage was part of the basement level. Everything seemed huge to me then. I walked up the steps, and at 6 years old, the two big doors were ominous looking. I tugged hard, pulled one of them open and found another set of very wide steps going up to the center hall between the three rooms. I had no idea what to think of all this because I’d never been there, not even for a preview. My home was basically a three room hunting camp with barely running cold water. The ceilings in my house were about 6 ½ feet high and the front door opening was exactly 6 feet so this new place, the school, was gigantic. I stood in the middle of the floor and watched kids go into the rooms. I didn’t ask any questions, but decided I should go into one of them myself. I took a sharp left, went into the classroom and sat in a desk like the other kids in the room had done. The desk top seemed a bit high, but was just right for me to rest my chin on. After sitting there for a brief time, an older woman came up to me and asked my name. She chuckled and took me by the hand and led me to another room across the hall. I clearly remember her saying, “Miss Trombly, I do believe I have one of yours.” As it turned out, I had sat in a desk in the third, fourth and fifth grade room.
Miss Trombly had all she could do to keep the room full of youngsters in order and learning the age appropriate writing and arithmetic. She was a very patient woman and often had to hold back from laughing while disciplining me. Evidently I was a handful at times but I can remember a ton of exciting moments and learning breakthroughs. We had wild flower collection contests and a marching band including monkey suits. I am still in touch with my best friend of the time. We had a million laughs through the years, but I will never forget my first day of school at Duttonsville.
Photo: Me, second from left, bottom row.
(c) Rick Wyman