Evergreen - Memories Letters
Reruns of The Andy Griffith Show always remind me of Evergreen Elementary. Evergreen’s simple, rural setting held together tightly with pure values align with Mayberry. The sweet, innocence of childhood truly took place in a perfect surrounding.
My most defining memories always circulate around one of my all-time favorite people, Miss Lou. There are not enough adjectives to describe Miss Lou’s goodness and contributions to our school. I can see her in a white dress with black polka-dots, of course crisply ironed. Hair neatly groomed, shoes polished so brightly the morning sun reflected off of the black patent leather. Our second grade classroom looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Everything in the classroom had a unique place, resulting in an immaculate learning environment. She kept peppermints in her drawer as tiny rewards making the recipient feel like King or Queen for a day.
The only negative about being in Miss Lou’s class, was that it was on the rear of the school. I loved being in the front so I could catch a glimpse of my Uncle Ray or my dad going by on a tractor or pulling a cotton trailer. I couldn’t wait to get home to play in the cotton, flipping off the sides when daddy wasn’t looking. We also loved being in the front because the train interrupted class at least for a few moments and we loved to watch it go by.
At recess, we walked down to the big white maintenance building to get the small glass bottle Cokes and orange peanut butter crackers out of the machine. I remember the comments when the price went from 5 cents to 10 cents a bottle. No need to worry if a little short on change. Mr. Holston was always willing to share some of his change he jingled around in his pockets. He stood near the machine and always made some nice comment to make us feel special. Then we ran out to find our secret treasures hidden in the crevices of the huge oak trees. Those trees had the most humongous ants, but we didn’t care because our most prized trinkets were somewhere among them. The golden egg was always hidden in one of the tree’s cubby holes at Easter.
Other recess activities were jumping rope under the bus canopy. These were the long ropes brought from our parent’s farms and were the perfect weight. No plastic fluorescent jump ropes for us. Then there were days when we played baseball with the boys. Steve Mathews and Steve Riche’ were our heroes. They hit homeruns every time they batted! One day a few of us girls, Sheila Gauthier, Jackie Bourg, Doris Daigrepont, and of course my partner in crime Paula Riche’ decided to make a sliding board out of a 7’ broken bleacher. Paula was the dare devil and she went first. She was rewarded with a 2” piece of wood on her seat. No problem, Miss Oma Tassin did the surgery and then had Paula and me walk to her house and get a pillow to cushion the pain. (Can you imagine a teacher being able to do this today????)
Now, there were a few cloudy days at Evergreen Elementary. Those were times when a classmate “got sent to Mr. Tanner.” We all cried because we just knew the paddle with tacks was resting on top of the corner file cabinet in his office waiting for some action. Of course, the minute the student returned, we bombarded HIM (girl’s were always good) with the most important question, “Did he remember to flip the paddle to the side with no tacks?” Mr. Tanner paced up and down the cafeteria during lunch, with his dark tie flapped over his folded arms. His white shirt was so starched and neatly creased, that it was the only sound in the cafeteria. It was the most silent place in the world. The lunchroom workers even whispered.
Fridays were considered BANK DAYS. Each student could bring money and their little savings account book to school. The school handled all of this loose change for all those participating and made the deposits for us. We loved to watch our accounts grow. Too bad we can’t do those things today!
I remember another dark day at Evergreen Elementary. Standing in line in the gym with my class to get the small pox vaccination seemed like total torture. I think we were one of if not the last class to receive these at school. We compared and watched our scabby arms for the days following.
Of course, the end of the day brought the bus ride home. I loved my dear bus driver – Elmer “Boulette” Riche’. On report card days, he had a candy bar waiting for me. Since Riche’ Lane kids were one of the first to get off the bus, we sometimes asked Boulette to go down Rabbit Lane first. It was your lucky day when Boulette let you work the door on the bus. Yep, we got to stand up during the route like we were the co-pilots. One day, I decided to get off the bus with Shelia Gauthier – Ervin’s daughter, without permission. Wow! I never saw an Oldsmobile driven so crazy by Tootsie…you would have thought I was 2 hours away instead of a .50 mile.
Mom was always home when I got off the bus with my older siblings, Kathy and Jack. You could smell onions browning for one of her great meals which we all shared together, AT THE TABLE IN OUR SAME SEATS EVERY MEAL. I couldn’t wait to see my dad walking across the yard from the barn after his long day in the field. His khakis that were hand starched and ironed were now full of grease and dirt from his day of labor. His dark skin was the most beautiful brown and I couldn’t wait for him to bath so I could sit with him in his recliner. Our day ended with Mom’s sewing machine going into the night as she worked on one of her many beautiful projects.
Debbie, Kathy, Jack and I are blessed to have had such a wonderful Evergreen childhood.
Lynn Riche’ David