The buzz, buzz of the alarm bell went off. We quickly lined up to leave our classroom. This drill was not the typical fire drill. In a fire drill, we would leave the building as quickly as possible. This alarm bell’s urgent buzzing was different from the fire alarm. Also, instead of going outside, we went downstairs to the gym. Then, we were herded to the back of the stage, where we sat down on the floor with our legs crossed. The final step was to place our hands over our ears and bend down towards our legs.
The school repeated this drill several times in the fall of 1962. As a second grader, I had no idea why we were doing these drills. Our teacher, Mrs. Schlabach didn’t explain; neither did my parents. Only a few years later would I learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The first day of our new school year, Mrs. Schlabach, stood in front of the class. It seemed like every year my teachers were getting older. Miss Robbins, my Kindergarten teacher was quite young. Mrs. Thomas appeared middle-aged. Mrs. Schlabach had gray hair and was short and a little plump. She looked like a grandmother instead of a teacher. However, looks were deceiving, because Mrs. Schlabach did a great job of teaching. She did care for each one of us like a grandmother, but she wouldn’t let us get away with anything unlike a grandmother.
On the first day, Mrs. Schlabach gave us a list of things that we would need for the class. She also asked us to bring money for some classroom expenses. I can’t remember all that was on the list except five cents for Kleenex. I remember this because Dad seemed quite unhappy that we had to pay for such a thing. I think it might have had something to do with taxes.
Second Grade was memorable because I was able to leave my first grade friends: Dick, Jane and Sally. Mrs. Schlabach introduced me to some new friends called Thomas, Abraham and George. These new friends introduced me to history.
Mrs. Schlabach shared the story of Thomas Edison with us. He was raised in Michigan, which made him a very important historical figure for our class. The story of how he became hard of hearing is still in my memory bank. Also, his persistence in his work as an inventor still inspires me to this day. Mrs. Schlabach marked Thomas Edison’s birthday (February 11th) on our calendar. I still celebrate February 11th as Edison’s birthday.
Of course, the other two friends that taught me history were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know how we did it, but we made silhouettes in black pasted on white paper of these two presidents. I enjoyed the stories that Mrs. Schlabach shared of these two presidents. She was giving me a love for history that I still have today.
In early November, Mrs. Schlabach wrote on the blackboard, which was green. She wrote that George Romney had won the election as governor of Michigan. This was my introduction to government I soon had a small understanding that we have a President of the United States, as well as a Governor of our State of Michigan.
I was beginning to see that the world was bigger than my family, my neighborhood and the Detroit Tigers. I had a desire to learn more about the world around me. My Weekly Reader helped me with this, but I also enjoyed watching George Pierrot after school. He would take me to far away places every afternoon when I wasn’t playing outside.
One other memorable event in second grade was the big freeze. One day, the temperature went down to minus twelve degrees. This was cold! For some reason, Mom didn’t see that it was a problem for me to go to school; however most of the other mothers did. That day only five students were in attendance in our class. It was a strange feeling to have so few students at school.
As I look back on Second Grade, there were a few special milestones. I had finally learned to tie my shoes. I also developed an interest in history. I also realized that I was better in math than I was in reading. I am amazed that I spent nine months in second grade and yet I have only a few memories of those days. However, I am thankful for Mrs. Schlabach, who introduced me to so many new things, especially history.