SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
friedag

Do you remember. . .?

friedag
3 months ago
last modified: 3 months ago

The Childhood of Famous Americans series.

Recently I've been reading Matthew Pearl's nonfiction narrative The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations, and the Kidnap That Shaped America. The story rang a bell in my mind: I had read the basic story when I was a child, probably as part of the biographical series I named above that was written especially for young readers. I was hooked on these stories and read dozens of them in the 1950s and the early 1960s. Evidently the series stretched back to the 1940s, maybe the 1930s. My mother who is 100 years of age thinks she might have read them in the 'thirties.

When I first read them, the books in the series were unabashedly patriotic and hagiographical. Most of subjects were pre-Revolutionary War, or Revolutionary War, and 19th-century figures. The series was just expanding into the 20th century when I outgrew them and moved on to more sophisticated styles of biography. After my time the series continued through the 20th-century history makers. I think it still continues.

Interestingly to me, most of the writers of these books were women. Augusta Stevenson was particularly prolific, but I've not been able to find out much about her. She wrote about both girls and boys, but, although I read everything regardless of the sex of the famous person, I was probably partial to the stories about the girls.

As a personal story about how I related to these books, I will mention the following:

My classmates and I were required to give at least one oral book report in a six-weeks grading period (six of these periods in a school year). We had to stand up to deliver our reports with our peers sitting on the floor in a semi-circle around us. I was a terrible ham at the age of nine so I often got really involved! The book I was reporting on was about Rachel Donelson Jackson (wife of Andrew), one of the Childhood series. Everything was going swimmingly -- I had my audience's full attention -- but just as I was wrapping up my presentation I suddenly remembered what happened to Rachel. I burst into tears and couldn't stop sobbing. Teacher finally took pity on me and allowed me -- and my classmates -- to settle down and not continue.. I left them hanging so jarringly that everyone wanted to know why I was crying. The book about Rachel Jackson became the most eagerly swapped book that school year.

And that was not the only one of the series that permanently affected me.

If anyone read these simple biographies, do you recall any particular one. . .or other books similar to them? I wonder how many future historians and biographers had seeds of interest sown by these stories.

I don't want to leave out readers from elsewhere who might not have ever come across this series. Perhaps there are near equivalents in your own childhood reading. I would love to read about those.

Comments (52)

  • woodnymph2_gw
    3 months ago

    I recall having a subscription to a magazine for children back in the 1950's. (What was it called?). Anyway, I remember vividly a true story about a boy in American Colonial times having been kidnapped by Native Americans. Later, when given a choice to return to Colonial White society, the young man chose to remain with his adopted tribe.

    friedag thanked woodnymph2_gw
  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    Friedag, I am glad it came back although I have nothing to add!

    However may I interject with a school question?

    I have recently been told about a "Pen License" which is the right to use a pen when sufficiently progressed in writing rather than a pencil. This can be a rite of passage with a Certificate.

    Is this a general thing other than in Australian schools?

    I only found out when my Great-grandaughter was given one and her older sister was unhappy as she is autistic and hasn't got to that level.

    I am furious about the discrimination which is acknowledged can happen on the Education website.

    The poor girl tries hard and has a Government funded personal teacher to assist with school work. She just has writing difficulties and cannot attain the standard.


    Scrap this license, I say! No one will hand write in the future, it will just be texting!

  • Related Discussions

    Do You Remember What The First Thing You Ever Sewed?

    Q

    Comments (34)
    I think the first real item I made was a yellow plaid roll-up sleeve blouse in Home Ec. I had no clue that matching plaids would be that involved. Since I was in high school in the 60's I remember making a 2 piece lined wool suit like Jackie Kennedy and of course had the matching pill box hat. Next I made a dress out of a pretty green dotted swiss. We didn't have room to cut out our garments in the Home Ec. cottage so we were taken into the cafeteria to use those tables. When I started making my dress I realized that I had not only lost the back pattern piece to my skirt but also the fabric. My Mother and I went back to the store to buy more but they were out of that color. I ended up replacing the back of my skirt with white organdy and applied a white bow in the back of the waist. What had started out as a rather plain dress became a nice church dress which I wore for quite a while. The dress that gave me such fits turned out to be a favorite of mine. Now I really LOVE to sew and also enjoy "thinking outside the box". Some things are made special because of the work involved. It makes you appretiate the results.
    ...See More

    I do! Do you? Remember these?

    Q

    Comments (42)
    Yes, S&H stamps were worth cash. Years ago Chicago had a trio of brothers who were infamous burglars. Pops Panczko was one of the three -- famous for being arrested over 200 times. I can't remember if he ever did serious time, but he could break into any safe. One of his memorable statements to the press was, "I'm a teef! It's what I do." Twenty years ago I knew a younger gal, Judy, through a service club. She was much younger than most of the group's members. One day the topic of Green Stamps came up, and some of us were reminiscing about them -- much as we are in this thread. Judy was all ears. "So *that's* what it was all about," she said. She remembered sitting at a table with her siblings, required to paste green stamps into booklets. It was endless. There were hundreds, thousands of the booklets. It was, "Don't ask. Just DO it." Judy's uncle was Pops Panczko.
    ...See More

    Do You Remember the First Time You Had Pizza?

    Q

    Comments (44)
    I grew up on a farm, no money for extras. My aunt, who lived in a Minneapolis suburb, brought up Jeno's pizza mixes one weekend. This would have been about 1960, I suppose. I wasn't wild about it then. Another weekend she brought up green and black olives. I thought they were horrible. I like them now, though, and pizza, too. My grand kids can't believe there were no pizza places then. I wonder when the first pizza restaurant opened in Minnesota. On my wedding night (the first one, in 1969), we ate at a restaurant. The waitress asked what kind of dressing I wanted on my salad. I asked what kinds are there? My then husband told me to try French. That was the only kind of dressing I had for about 20 years, before I branched out to Ranch. And I never had shrimp until I was 21. A friend ordered 21 shrimp and asked if I wanted one. I said ok and ate it. Afterwards, she said she was going to see if there were really 21 shrimp and asked where the tail of mine was. I said what tail? I had eaten the whole thing.
    ...See More

    How many do you remember?

    Q

    Comments (62)
    I don't remember penny candy, the Fuller Brush man, or 15-cent McDonald hamburgers – we did not have McDonald's where I grew up (We had Dairy Queen), and I still have never been to one and have never had any of their food. I remember 19¢ hamburgers at Jack-in-the-Box when I moved to Houston, but before that, I did not pay attention to the cost of food. I do remember 17.9-cent gasoline (19¢ was the normal price) and the rest. It's much harder to remember 35¢ gas, since that was much later. We did not have traveling salesmen in the rural area where I grew up, and we did not have milk delivery, but we did have milk cows. We still have a diner here in Los Angeles that has a tableside jukebox, with 45s from the early 1960s. My grandmother made a point to shop only on double stamp days for green stamps.
    ...See More
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Annpan, I had not heard of this "Pen Licence" so I'm having to read about it online. My mother and I received penmanship awards when we were in school, but I don't think it was ever a 'requirement' -- it was just something recognized as praiseworthy in end-of-the-year awards assemblies, same as being, say, a spelling bee winner.


    I am naturally left handed. As it was considered de rigueur to 'change' a left-handed person into a right-handed one at the time, I spent my kindergarten and first-grade years sitting on my left hand so I wouldn't be tempted to write with it. Eventually I did learn with my right hand, and I have to admit that my handwriting improved, but being stubborn I also wrote with my left when I was at home or when nobody was paying attention. To this day I am ambidextrous. I think that 'trying' to change' lefties into righties is stupid and harmful. I don't think teachers encourage the hand-changing thing any longer, if they try to teach penmanship at all.


    It's an interesting topic, Annpan, and it's all part of "Do you remember. . .?"

  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    I was also a left-handed child but got encouraged to change early. I don't know that I was affected but it is interesting that when I had hypnotherapy, as I got nervous about being in a vehicle after a traffic accident, that I started to use my left hand more.

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • vee_new
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Frieda, I am not familiar with the works you mentioned but there was a series of books by an American author (somebody Perkins?) who wrote about 'children from other lands "The Chinese Twins" "The African Twins" etc and probably lumping a whole continent into each book . . . but I remember enjoying them when I was about 9-10.

    I had for a Christmas present 'Stories from British History' probably written in the 1930's or earlier. I remember the ones about Hereward the Wake (would he have to be renamed Hereward 'The Woke' today?) Florence Nightingale and Grace Darling.

    Re Rachel Jackson . . .How did she die? Did she meet a grisly end after being mauled by a bear? Did she jump in to a raging torrent to save a drowning kitten? Was she maybe trapped on an ice-flow while fleeing hostile Canadians and was swept over Niagara Falls? Or did she just fade away while lying on her consumptive couch?

    friedag thanked vee_new
  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    I had a surprise visit from my youngest GD with her mother and the new baby. As GD is a teacher, I asked her about the Pen License and she said it didn't matter once you started High School (around eleven) when everyone writes with a pen.

    I pointed out that my eldest GGD actually IS in High School!

    Apparently it was meant to encourage good handwriting but poor GGD hadn't attained the standard.

    Looking back to nearly eighty years ago, I think we used pens at the start of the school year around eight and they were nibs dipped in inkwells! Lovely for making blots to cover spelling mistakes...

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • vee_new
    3 months ago

    Annpan I remember the importance of being chosen to act as Ink Monitor. The ink came in powdered form and was mixed with water in an old enamel jug. The monitor had the privilege of pouring the ink into each inkwell, a little 'cup' that rested in a hole on the corner of each wooden desk. There was always a temptation for small boys to make blotting paper pellets by dipping them in the inkwell and then 'firing' them from the bent-back tip of a ruler at some poor unsuspecting 'enemy' . . .usually a girl. Girls who had plaited hair had also to beware the boy sitting behind her who would dip the end of her plait into the inkwell, or worse, tie her plaits to the back of her chair.

    friedag thanked vee_new
  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    Vee, yes, I remember all those things! Also the honour of being the Blackboard Monitor whose task was to wipe the chalk off the blackboard at the end of the class.

    Another job was to take the daily register of attendees to the office so that if a child didn't show up a School Board Man called on the home to check if the child was ill.

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • donnamira
    3 months ago

    Frieda, I do remember that biography series - I read several of them, although I remember only a few now, like the Jane Addams one. I also think I remember one on James Bowie and another on Anthony Wayne (the county I lived in was named for him). I didn't remember the series by that name, but when I was searching around, I found an article that called it the 'orange biography series' and that nailed it for me. My elementary school had a very small library that included most of the series.

    As for "Pen License," I've never heard of such of thing, but then when we graduated from pencils to pens in my time, it was to ballpoints. Hail to the ubiquitous Bic. The inkwells in our desks were all dried up black holes when I was in school, used to hide contraband like chewing gum.

    friedag thanked donnamira
  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 months ago

    When I was in fourth grade, the room bookshelves had a series called Little Someone from Somewhere (e.g., Little Maria from Mexico) that I dearly loved. Maybe that's what began my love of travel?

    In my very early school days when my mother was teaching in one-room schools, we had desks with holes in them for ink bottles, but we never used ink in school even in my high school days. Those old desks were doubles so that two children sat together. Heaven help the one whose seatmate got mad at you and drew a pencil line down the middle of desk and bench and you crossed the line.


    friedag thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • vee_new
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I just checked out the 'Twins' series. The author was Lucy Fitch Perkins and she wrote her many books between 1911 and the late 1930's, which shows how out-of-date my Junior School library was.

    Apparently she would interview one person from the country she was about to write about so she had some 'facts' to go on. She illustrated them herself with now 'dated' but to me attractive drawings.

    The books range across the world and even took in some history . . . from the Cave Twins to the American Revolution Twins. There was even a Pickaninny Twins, no doubt banned from the shelves.

    Some have been recorded and below is an eg of a reading from the 'Scotch Twins'

    nb this should probably be Scots Twins as Scotch refers to Scottish whisky, unless, of course the children lived in a distillery.



    friedag thanked vee_new
  • vee_new
    3 months ago

    Carolyn we also had those double desks, much scarred and written/carved upon. Ours also shared a bench seat which pushed up so when one child stood the other was forced to do the same!

    Did you really have to write in pencil all the way through High School?

    We moved on to 'ink pens' with nibs that were forever crossing/breaking at about 8-9 years. Nibs could be bought in little packets although I suppose the school had a supply.

    When I was 10 my father bought me a 'grown-up' fountain pen but by Secondary school (11 onwards) they introduced the hated Italic writing and my neat script went down-hill fast, plus we had to use the pens with square-end nibs.

    Over here, until recently ball point pens were not allowed/encouraged in class as (speaking as one who knows) they lead to sloppy handwriting, although I suppose any handwriting is going out of use in these days of computers and keyboards.

    friedag thanked vee_new
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Donnamira, I suppose the 'orange biography series' is so named for the orange-colored hardbound editions. Right?. The ones I have are blue HBs, but I'm assuming they are the same series.. Back then, I never saw any with dustjackets or any PBs in school or public libraries. Do you remember the illustrations being silhouette cut-outs (the term for this art technique is eluding me right now)? I loved those as a child, so I was disappointed when I ordered and received books with different illustrations.


    Some of the 'famous Americans' in the series have now faded into obscurity, at least for me. I no longer remember who Phoebe Coffin was and barely recall Raphael Semmes, Tidewater Boy or Anthony Wayne (wasn't his nickname 'Mad' Anthony Wayne?) or Narcissa Whitman except that she had a gruesome demise. I do remember Jane Addams, Little Lame Girl and Dolly Madison, Quaker Girl.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Vee, I listened to ten minutes or so of the reading of The Scotch Twins before I got sidetracked. Oooh, that Jean Campbell is 'a fierce little housekeeper' who wears a 'housekeepery pucker' on her face on a Saturday! Her twin brother Jock sure needs her direction, lazy lad!


    It's all quite charming, I suspect. I will eventually get back to it, but it's over three hours of listening so I wish I had a text to read along with it. Thank you for recalling this author and series which I had never run across before.

  • sheri_z6
    3 months ago

    This thread reminded me of two series produced by Scholastic in the late 1990s/early 2000s that my kids read and enjoyed. The first series was called "Dear America" and each book was the diary of a young girl at different points in US history. A spin-off series called "My Name is America" offered the same type of books that featured boys. We had several of these, I have no idea what became of them. Titles included, A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620; The Winter of Red Snow: The Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777; Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady, RMS Titanic, 1912, and so forth.


    When I was in elementary school I remember reading Johnny Tremaine by Esther Hoskins Forbes, and that story always stuck with me.

    friedag thanked sheri_z6
  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 months ago

    Vee, we didn't have to write in pencil, but everybody did. My mother bought me a Schaffer fountain pen when I went to college. When I became a full-fledged secretary, I took dictation using a desk fountain pen--much smoother writing than pencils--but most women used pencils for that, too.

  • vee_new
    3 months ago

    Annpan, you beat me to it regarding 'licking pencils' (in August reading thread) some pencils contained an indelible 'lead' that we were always warned was poisonous if licked! I remember it turned the tongue/lips/fingers a delicate shade of purple.

  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    I read in other threads about the hymns sung in UK schools' morning assemblies, so that triggered these questions:


    Did your school(s) have a school song; a class song; a 'fight' song' for sports matches; club songs, such as for 4-H Club, etc? Do you remember the titles and any of the lyrics? If so, please share them!


    I do remember our Alma Mater which had the same tune as that of the U.S. University of Notre Dame but different lyrics. Our high school class song was completely unmemorable. I can't even recall the title. We wanted The Beatles' "Revolution #9", but that was quickly put down by the powers that be. We were just trying to be perverse, though, as it was completely unsingable. My DH's school allowed his class to choose The Beatles' "Let It Be" although there was some controversy about some of the phrases in it, e.g. 'Mother Mary comes to me' which McCartney said he was referring to his own deceased mother who was named Mary.


    What was the most popular song on the radio during any particular year you were in school? If it was like the most popular one in my schooldays, it was way overplayed!

  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    My school song was "Sussex by the Sea" as that was our county. There are two songs with that title but ours was the song which starts "God gives all men all earth to love..."

    The only song I recall was Dean Martin's "Memories are made of this" which we belted out!


    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • vee_new
    3 months ago

    My 'secondary' school song had been written and set to music by the school's founder, a formidable nun. Two verses and a chorus that had to be learnt by all pupils to sing at end of term concerts.

    I don't think ordinary schools have ever had special songs attached to sports events . . .unless the Eton College Boating song counts . .. but that is decidedly up-market for 99% of us!

    We sang a hymn at morning assembly along with a couple of prayers at Junior School every day (then a requirement of the 1944 Education Act) but by age 11 and at an RC school, very many prayers were recited at great speed but only a hymn perhaps twice a week sung v e r y slowly. The rest of the assembly was given over to announcements and 'telling offs' of which there was always a great many.

    These days schools have become so large that an 'assembly' is not practical for everyone and I'm sure prayers/hymns have fallen by the wayside especially of the Christian tradition.

    Re radio, none at boarding school (or TV) and certainly never allowed to listen to 'pop' music at home! I must have had a stunted childhood.



    friedag thanked vee_new
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Vee, I've heard that "Eton Boating Song" many times, but I probably never knew how 'exalted' it was supposed to be.


    Sorry, Vee, from my point of view you were deprived if you never got to listen to, sing, or play popular music. <just teasing you, grin> Everyone in my immediate family loved music of all kinds. We were -- and still are -- very noisy! Nothing evokes my childhood and schooldays more than books and music. But many well-ordered childhoods didn't include those things.


    I have a soundtrack to my life. Lots of people do, I think. I've seen you mention music, so you most likely have a 'soundtrack' too. :-)


    What did the boarding school admins/staff/parents/guardians think radio would do to impressionable minds? Pollute them? They may have had a good point. . .sometimes.

  • msmeow
    3 months ago

    My HS and both colleges had Alma Maters. The HS one was written by the band director who was there when I was, but the college ones used standard tunes.

    Our HS fight song was "Anchors Aweigh" (the Navy song) because we were the Lakeland HS Dreadnaughts. (If you think having a battleship is a dumb mascot, my DH went to Key West HS for a year and they are the Conchs. Yes...conchs - giant snails. LOL)

    Donna

    friedag thanked msmeow
  • vee_new
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Frieda, back in the day (late 50's - early 60's) although radio was very popular in private homes and TV becoming so, and many people my age will remember 'Children's Hour' with great fondness, probably the only time the 'wireless' was heard in schools was via the excellent BBC 'Schools' broadcasts.

    I had always been brought up to believe that 'pop' culture was second/third rate so the only time I physically heard it was when my younger brother smuggled in records by the Everly Brothers!

    TV was only available at school, via a big rented set at such important events as the election of a Pope or Grace Kelly's wedding . . who the nuns regarded as a pure young Irish virgin. I don't remember watching anything about British Royalty.

    We did however occasionally watch a film, usually musicals chosen by the nun who knew how to operate the projector. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Bing Crosby (as a priest) crooning among delinquent boys and similar.



    friedag thanked vee_new
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Whew, Vee! I thought I had killed another thread. Instead, I think your post went walkabout for three days like my first post did for nine days. I just saw your lively (as always) comments. I'm off now to watch "Going My Way" which I've seen before but it has been a long time. I always liked 'Der Bingle' -- especially his Christmas songs. Did you ever see/hear his singing with David Bowie, of all performers (Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy)? Just gorgeous, in my opinion.

    To illustrate how my mind associates occurrences in my life (often tying-in closely with books I read), here's a story often told by my family to gig me:

    One day, circa 1952, when I was two years old, my mother was playing the radio (Mother loved the radio) when Bing's brother Bob Crosby's "South Rampart Street Parade" came on. Mama heard me hollering, so she rushed to find me because I several times seemed determined to kill myself. . . once I stuck mother's car keys in an electrical socket. She found me in the bathroom's dry tub jumping up and down to the music, holding an open can of talcum powder, slinging it everywhere. I was 'second lining' as if 'breaking out' at a Jazz funeral. How did I know it was a New Orleans theme? I don't know, but apparently I've always been susceptible.

  • Rosefolly
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I also remember the patriotic childhood biographies several have described. Along with them I read Alice Turner Curtis's series including Little Maid of Lexington and Little Maid of Valley Forge, rather sentimental novels about little girls whose patriotism, cleverness, and bravery were said to contribute to the winning of the Revolutionary War. A couple of years onward I graduated to the "Career Romance for Young Moderns" series which depicted young women struggling to make success at some career - reporter, book illustrator, nurse, pilot, speech therapist, even a "lady architect". I must have read a dozen of them. Each one ended with the young woman in question achieving a measure of success then flinging it aside for marriage. I wasn't much of a feminist in my early teens, but even then I thought that seemed stupid. But I did keep reading them.

    Selections in today's school libraries are quite different.

    friedag thanked Rosefolly
  • kathy_t
    3 months ago

    It seems odd that I have no memory of these "Famous Americans" books. I believe I'm about your age, Frieda, (born 1950) and I was a pretty voracious young reader, encouraged by my mother and the small-town librarian who put their heads together to recommend my reading program. This series seems like something they might have selected for me. Perhaps my intense interest in Nan and Bert and Freddie and Flossie, the Bobbsey Twins, won over the famous Americans. Missing out on this series might explain why History has always been my worst category in the game of Trivial Pursuit.

    friedag thanked kathy_t
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Rosefully: Yes! I've been racking my brain over the Little Maid books. I now remember those, too, thanks to you. One year during our library's Summer Reading Program in order to get a certificate the participants were supposed to read fifteen or twenty books. I decided to read all the 'Little Maids' available. Every time I read one our librarian filled in my card and gave me a sticker.. After ten or so in the same series, she gently suggested that I might want to read other books as well.

    I'm not sure if I read those Career Romances, but they seem familiar. Of course I read many Cherry Ames, Nurse and Vicki Barr, Airline Stewardess books. However, I don't think I will inflict those on my granddaughters..

  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Yep, Kathy, we are from the same birth year. Did you graduate from high school in '67 or '68? I was a September baby and the cut-off date to start school in my state was to have a 5th birthday before midnight August 31. My mother finagled with the school authorities to let me start before I was officially five years old. I would have pestered her a whole year if I had had to wait. I could already read so mother thought there was no reason I shouldn't start school.


    I recall Trivial Pursuit parties we had in the early '80s. I was a complete dunce in many categories (Sports especially), but I did rather well most of the time in History.:-)

  • kathy_t
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Frieda, I was born in December of 1950, and ran into one of those age cut-off dates you mentioned. I was usually the oldest kid in my class, and looking back, I believe that extra year of maturity gave me an advantage in the early school years. Plus, I got to drive a car before any of my classmates, which was big stuff back then. I graduated from high school in '69. At football games, we traded cheers with the class of '68. "Sixty-eight, really great! Sixty-nine, mighty fine!" I never thought I'd be saying that 50+ years later.

    friedag thanked kathy_t
  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 months ago

    Frieda, my daughter wanted to be a nurse from the time she had her tonsils out at four, so Cherry Ames and Sue Barton were very popular at our house. I think I introduced her to Sue as I had read them in high school. But I never wanted to be a nurse! I don't know where that came from with her, but she now has a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree and has her dream job of flying around the country coaching and teaching nurses who need a little extra help.

    friedag thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    We did have Sue Barton books in our very depleted children's UK library section.

    I had thought about nursing but needed to be 18 to train or 17.5 to join the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corps overseas. I had to start work at 16 so became a junior library assistant instead for two years and then joined the Civil Service until I migrated to Australia for adventure and cheap travel! Ten pounds got me a shared cabin berth on the Promenade deck. Lucky!

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • woodnymph2_gw
    3 months ago

    I recall in the 4th grade, we were offered prizes for the most books read over the summer. That is how I managed to read every single one of the many Nancy Drew mysteries. I still recall some of their plots. I also read "The Hardy Boys" series, as well as Cherry Ames and Sue Barton.

    friedag thanked woodnymph2_gw
  • kathy_t
    3 months ago

    Woodnymph - I loved all of those series you mentioned.

    friedag thanked kathy_t
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Carolyn, did your daughter like to 'play hospital'? Did she have her own nurse kit or First Aid kit that she could dive into so she could administer to her patients, imagined or real?


    That was a real fad for my classmates and me in the 4th grade to have well-stocked First Aid Kits that we kept in shoe boxes in our desks or under our chairs. We were ready to jump into action if a mate skinned a knee, got a splinter, or got something in an eye!


    My brothers and I liked to 'play school' too. Did you and your friends or siblings? When I mention playing school to my grandkids, nieces and nephews nowadays, I think they honestly wonder why we would have wanted to do such a thing!



  • Carolyn Newlen
    3 months ago

    Oh my, yes, to nurse's kit and playing hospital/doctor's office. DD even had a little white bibbed apron and a cap with a red cross on it. My front porch used to be full of little neighborhood patients and sick dolls.


    My mother was an elementary teacher, so everyone played school including all her grandchildren. She said she used to hear her classroom voice and material coming back at her in the afternoons after we got home.

    friedag thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    I played at being a librarian in the 1940s! My friends pooled their books and we made borrower's tickets for them.

    I have mentioned before how books were scarce during WW2 and mostly were pre-war and handed down. There were some in the public library for children but I never knew for many years that there was a sequel to Alice in Wonderland as it wasn't in stock.

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    That sequel to AiW is Through the Looking Glass, isn't it? I never was crazy about Alice until fourth grade when my class chose to put on a play version of "Through the. . .Glass" and I got to be Alice. That changed everything!


    I didn't know that there was a series of 'Oz' books until I was grown up.


    Speaking of plays, did your schools put on many plays that you got to act in? I was a senior (12th grader) in high school when we did "Little Women". Although I wanted the role of Jo I didn't get it. The girl who did was marvelous though!

  • annpanagain
    3 months ago

    Both my schools, Junior and High School put on plays.

    I actually wrote one for the Juniors, which copied the plot from a book.

    I desperately wanted to play the Princess in Sleeping Beauty once and was finally offered the part but had a childish illness and had to decline.

    I did get a part in Beauty and the Beast at High School as the father. That was a proper production in front of a paying audience. It ran for four nights and had an A and B cast, alternating.

    I think my desire to act was greater than my talent though. I went to a Drama School for evening classes and found that I wasn't that good compared to other students. It was fun though and I got to be the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. We performed plays for audiences as diverse as mental patients and girls in a reformatory. They got all the jokes about sex that we innocently didn't!

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • woodnymph2_gw
    3 months ago

    When I was in first grade, my parents bought me an outfit straight out of "Alice in Wonderland." (Blue and white, with an apron). I also had the long ringlets to go with it.


    I forgot to say I got totally addicted to the "Wizard of Oz" series, as well as to Robin Hood, and King Arthur and his Knights.

    friedag thanked woodnymph2_gw
  • friedag
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Annpan, your experiences with drama classes sound wonderful to me -- happy memories of triumphs and fodder to tell amusing stories from not-so-successful attempts. The reformatory girls getting the sexual innuendo in Romeo and Juliet is hilarious!


    I had to resign myself to being mostly untalented in acting compared to my peers. But I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world. I loved school so much! I've often been teased that my avocation is to be a perpetual student.


    I think each responder to this thread has had great memory-making experiences.


    That's why I'm sad when my younger family and friends don't/didn't seem to enjoy school as much as I did. But I never had to endure the major disruptors they have had. I'm still hopeful their schooldays memories can be salvaged for them.


  • annpanagain
    2 months ago

    A young nurse friend, after reading an old book about a nurse's experiences, said that they were so respectful of doctors back then!

    I remarked that some older patients still were and would never ask questions if they didn't understand instructions properly.

    My mother was told by her house-calling doctor to rest and took that so literally she kept to her bed totally and was nursed by the family for a week until his next visit. He was horrified to learn this as she should have just rested for part of the time. Too long in bed was bad for her circulation!

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • friedag
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Annpan, it seems to me that a lot of professionals these days have lost that awe-inducing respect people (the so-called 'underlings') outside those orbits once had for them.


    I am reminded about how we students were expected to 'behave' in our classes. I recall we had a big, burly coach who taught history -- except he didn't! He lost control of us every day. The boys distracted him into diagramming (American) football plays on the blackboard. I did learn about football but practically no history at all.


    In contrast to him, we had a very petite math teacher who solved equations on the blackboard. She had her back to us the whole time. If we twittered or made any extraneous sounds, her shoulders would go up, and she would stop talking and start erasing what she had just written. We always subsided -- and we were terrified of her displeasure although she never raised her voice in a threatening manner to us. For some reason we respected her but not the coach! She was a good teacher, one of the best I ever had.


    I'm sure we can all recall our best teachers. . .and our worst!

  • Carolyn Newlen
    2 months ago

    My best was my mother, both at home and in the classroom. No one in our family down through the grandchildren uses poor grammar. She didn't fuss; she just corrected as long as it took.

    friedag thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • Rosefolly
    2 months ago

    Our parents also modeled perfect grammar. To this day I am deeply embarrassed if I catch myself making a grammatical error.

    friedag thanked Rosefolly
  • friedag
    Original Author
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Carolyn, did you ever consider becoming a teacher? Are there other teachers in your family? Students having had such a fine example like your mother as a teacher, she most likely inspired some of them (inside or outside the classroom) to follow in her footsteps.

    Anyone: Which was the pivotal year in your schooling when you had some inkling of what your ambitions might be? Carolyn's daughter was four years old when she decided she wanted to be a nurse. That's early, I think!

    I've heard and read that nine, ten, and eleven years of age are prime years for the coalescing of which 'track' a child will follow. My English friends say it was definitely eleven for them because of the 11-plus exams (which I understand changed after their time for many pupils). I'm not so sure about in the U.S. But many people mention the fourth grade (ages 9 and 10) as being the year when the most new subjects were introduced (e.g., the first year of 'real' science; arithmetic became mathematics; health was treated formally; and we tried out various electives such as drama, 'ready writing' or photography). I remember it being a very busy year, but I don't think I formed any aspirations at that time. Possibly I was a late bloomer in that respect.

    Rosefolly, you are too hard on yourself, in my opinion. <grin> Everyone makes grammatical errors. Even the expert grammarians can't agree on many of the finer points. They love to argue, and their debates are often very entertaining, as well as enlightening.

  • Kath
    2 months ago

    Harking back to the discussion of writing implements and school desks, we also sat in two-person desks with a bench seat at primary school, and the front of the desk behind provided your backrest, except for the four desks in the back row, which had their own. On the underside of the desk on the edge were screwed two large cuphooks, and hanging from that was your Busy Bag, which contained your books and pencils (we didn't have lockers). We used pencil for the first three grades, and pen and ink at least in Grade 7, but I'm not sure what came between. In those days small bottles of Coke came with a plastic sealer under the crown seal, and we would put one of those on our inkwell overnight to stop the ink from evaporating. I was never ink monitor, but in Grade 7 I ran the bookroom with another girl before school. Children would come with a slip signed by the teacher to say they needed a new exercise book, or pencil, or pen ,and we would provide it and take their money. We then counted it up every day and gave it to the school secretary.

    Other jobs children did were crossing monitors (like lollipop ladies, but standing on the side of the road, not going out on it), doing the dishes in the teachers' staff room, sweeping the corridors, emptying the bins and taking them to the large incinerator on the school grounds, and finally milk monitors, who took the small cartons of milk delivered each morning and distributed them to each classroom.

    friedag thanked Kath
  • annpanagain
    2 months ago

    Friedag, I had few ideas about a future career when I was 16 and due to leave school, other for some reason becoming a pharmacist and I had taken Latin classes towards that but maths was too difficult for me. (It still is!)

    I did enquire about nursing from a career guidance person but that was for 18y olds, training in the UK. 17.5 yo if I went to a posting overseas.

    Then after a helpful money gift from an aunt, I looked into being a cookery demonstrator but the two year course was too expensive.

    It was suggested I wrote to libraries in the area about a vacancy and was offered a junior assistant post in the town where my maternal grandparents lived so I took that up and boarded with them.

    friedag thanked annpanagain
  • Carolyn Newlen
    2 months ago

    Frieda, NO! I never wanted to teach and was delighted to find there were other options for girls--few though they were in my young days. As high school seniors, we were offered aptitude tests to take if we were interested. Mine came out so heavily clerical that it was laughable. I went to regular college a year and then to business college and worked as a secretary for 45 years. My last title was Executive Assistant and the salary was better, but it was pretty much the same job all the time. Now, no one is a secretary anymore; they're all administrative assistants.

    My mother's three sisters were teachers as were both my brothers and several cousins and a niece and her daughter. One brother taught fifth grade and loved it. The other was also a basketball coach who taught some classes, then a HS principal, and then county superintendent of schools for many years. Even after he retired, he filled temporary supt. jobs until his late 70s. My sister went to business school but didn't have a public job after she had children, although she has taught Sunday School to the youngest children at church for more than 50 years.

    friedag thanked Carolyn Newlen
  • friedag
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    Annpan, It's good to know that I wasn't the only student who had to try different ways!


    Carolyn, I took some sort of career aptitude test in high school. It was fun, but apparently I didn't have a strong leaning in any particular direction, so it really didn't help me make up my mind. I arrived at college without knowing what major I should declare. I wound up changing my major three times, and I didn't decide on a minor until the year before I was scheduled to get a degree.


    Parents these days have to be very involved in helping their offspring make plans for their education. It's probably always been thus for many, however, especially when it comes to expenses. I think I was very lucky to have the luxury of not having to make up my mind before I actually knew what I wanted to do. I received scholarships and I had jobs while in high school, college, and university -- plus I got married during my second year of college. None of that fazed me because I had a lot of energy back then. My parents never pressured me (or my brothers either) to follow any particular route. It's the pressure and stress that worries me most for the latest generation of my family. I guess there have always been those hurdles, though.