1960. Weiss Elementary School, Saginaw, Michigan. The school was directly across the street from the subdivision where I lived. Miss Cheiswahl was our principal, Mrs. Scheisberger was the secretary. Mr. Kerkey was the custodian and also the crossing guard who helped us cross Weiss Street safely.
Those were the days when we ate in our classroom if we brought our lunch. A carton of milk was two cents. Hot lunch was thirty-five cents. We were also allowed to go home for lunch, which I did many times.
Our teacher, Miss Steverman, was very kind and smiled most of the time. I remember the names of almost everyone in our class. I am first in the top row. Gretchen Baumgartner is next. Gretchen was the inspiration for one of the main characters in my middle grade novel, “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery”.
Next is Miss Steverman, followed by Billy Salbenblatt and Tom Schultz. Tom once sang, “Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony, hit a bump and skinned his rump and landed in the teacher’s arms.”
The first girl in the second row has a name, I just don’t remember it. Chuck Malenfant is next. He was drawing an army tank one time and instead of drawing four or five large wheels, he filled the track with little circles like marbles. Maybe he was on to something. Next is Karen Temper and Bobby Preston.
Denny Nickles is first in the third row. Denny had a supernatural gift of skipping. He could skip faster than any kid could run. No one on the playground could catch Denny Nickles if he was skipping. I don’t remember the girl next to Denny.
Harry Johns is next. He was a funny guy and once wore pajamas under his pants for long underwear. I remember the girl next to Harry, but can’t recall her name. John Adams is next. John once took his ballpoint pen apart, pulled back on the cartridge and let it go. The projectile stuck in the ceiling. I don’t remember how or if he got it down. Mary Rappa is next.
First in the fourth row is Ricky Jehu. Ricky lived on Cheyenne Place, one street over from mine. We spent a lot of time together. As most of us kids played army in those days, Ricky could make incredible weapon sound effects I could never duplicate. Joan Schallhorn is next to Ricky.
The next student is Dennis Crocker. Dennis and I started taking piano lessons from Mr. Gortner at the same time. I don’t know if he continued playing the piano, but I do know he has a beautiful voice. At boys’ camp when we were nine years old, he sang, “Dare to Be a Daniel”, and “Jewels” out of the hymn book all by himself. Dennis went on to become the Chair of Fine Arts at a university.
The next student is Debbie Smith, then Ronnie Reder, Barbara Blackney, and Cheryl Everett.
I would have eventually graduated from high school with my second grade classmates, but we moved from Saginaw before my sophomore year.
A few days ago, I posted this picture on Facebook with the names of my classmates. I immediately received a comment that read, “The teacher is my mom and I am literally having dinner out with her as I post. She remembers you all.”
This made my day! I literally got to say “Hello” to my second grade teacher, Miss Steverman!