Memo From Mac



The Hutchinson News
Hutchinson, Kansas

And So Farewell To Babyhood
September 1954

The $2 has been duly deposited with an authorized agent of the Board of Education for the year's supply of graham crackers.

The rug has been rolled tightly and tied with cord. Mother has finished sewing the apron that, for the sake of cleanliness, is built with sleeves.

His supplies consisting of a packet of paper, a large black pencil which he pointed out can be sharpened at both ends, a box of crayons and a pair of scissors, are in a brown paper sack which is frayed now from so much handling by his brother, who is unhappy because he is too little to go.

With his brown sack under his arm and his free hand in his mother's, he's coming down the steps and around his trike and wagon, which are always parked on the sidewalk, and down the street, away from home.

He will start to school.

It is hard to realize that the black pencil and the rug and the graham crackers are the beginning of an adventure which will have him in classrooms for 17 years and will proceed, with scientific steps from the knowledge of how to play ring around the roses to an acquaintance with Emanuel Kant, advanced trigonometry and the wiles of the young ladies in the Sigma Sigma house.

Nor will that concern him when he walks down the street. He is not concerned that his babyhood is suddenly ended, or that his sentimental parents are suddenly sorry and are wondering if, after all, he isn't much too young to be starting to school.

He knows he's as big now as the "big kids" in the block who lorded over him last year with their strange tales of school.

He is armed with the assurance that he can tell anyone who asks his name and his house number and where his daddy works and he knows how to tie his shoes. He can't remember his telephone number, but he says it doesn't matter because he knows how to find his way home by himself.

He is on his way to meet the teacher who is going to open the door of wisdom for him its first tiny crack.

He will finger-paint and sit in the reading circle and play games and have rest period and none of that seems startlingly like education. But what he will learn this year, well or badly, will remain his most important lessons: that there are others who have authority over him; that he must share attention and possessions and wait his turn; and there is something to be gained by being friendly.

(The rudiments of these he is supposed to have learned already; but a parent sometimes wonders. That is why parents admire schoolteachers.)

In a way, it is a shame, the things he is going to learn before he is through: that the world is not simply divided between the good guys and the bad guys as the TV westerns have led him to believe; that his mother is not the only one who can't find ready answers for all his questions; that even many of the things he is taught to confidently in school don't seem to work when he tries to apply them; that life never winds up neatly as a Hopalong drama.

But all that can wait. The first report on the venture will be due Tuesday night. His brother will be hurt to see the cruel gap widening between them as he tells his tales. He may even find time to let his parents know about what he did and how he likes the teacher and about the new Mary's and Trudy's and Pamela's and Gary's and Willie's and Mike's he has met.

And his parents, who will be feeling very ancient by that time, will be proud as punch and probably feel just a little sad for folks who aren't blessed with such a brilliant child.

Do a good job teacher. We're counting on you. Don't let anyone tell you you're overpaid or that the school budget is extravagant or the schoolhouse isn't any too good. It's the most important place in town to us right now and you're the most important person.

Do your best. And don't let him get you down. He's really a good boy, when you get to know him. Maybe we feel just a little bit sorry for you but, of course, we'd never admit that.

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