Bob starts to school. This was in 1935. I was left home with Mother Bess and Janie. Dad was off daily to the County Judge’s Office. The older siblings were also in the Morton, Texas school system. I was lonesome for Bob who was 18 months my senior. Janie was two years younger than me and not much of a playmate. She stuck around mother too much.
Bob was dressed up in new clothes and a new pair of shoes for this occasion. I went barefooted most of the time but winter was approaching and mother gave me Bob’s old shoes. That was ok. They were broke in well. Still had some sole in place. I played kick the can a lot and pretended Bob was there to kick it back but in fact I played his part as well.
I think Bob missed me too but he would talk about his new friends at school and talk about a merry-go-round. He didn’t like spelling. He liked recess what ever that was. He liked getting to hit the baseball and catch a football. Bob said he was going to be 7 years old in December and he would get off of the 6 so I could move up to 6 in March. That sounded great! It was nice that he would do that for me. Seemed to me that he was learning a lot about numbers and stuff.
The school year of 1935 – 1936 moved slow for me. Too much solitude. Just so much playing you can do by yourself. During the summer of 1936 we did get back into our routine of going down to the little lake that had been created when the road building crew had dug a pit to get the white rock to pile on the county road. Skipping rocks across the pond was a favorite pastime. We liked to take the horn toads we found and tie a string around their horns and drag them across the pasture. We would always release them because mother had told us that they were good little fellows and ate red ants.
I was really anxious to start to school in August. We started early because when the cotton got ready the teachers would let us out so we could pick cotton for the farmers. A lot of disappointment came my way when I did not get a new pair of shoes before school started. They bought Bob a new pair and let me use his old pair that were new when he started to school. Mother said he needed a new pair and we could not afford two pairs. Bob has pretty well devastated this pair he started to school in.
They said they gave the new pair to Bob because he was going to be disappointed that he was staying in the first grade. Nobody told me why he was being kept in the first grade but later on I think I figured it out. The school board had planned to put a 12th grade in the school program that year by keeping the slow learners in the second grade and promoting the fast learners to the third grade. This didn’t happen until several years later because those that wanted it were outnumbered by those that didn’t want it.
The first day of school, Bob introduced me to the merry-go-round. That was a neat thing. I could stay on that until I got dizzy. What a feeling! I also noticed that to slow the thing down I would have to drag my foot. Bingo! I could wear my shoe out and maybe mother would get me a new pair of shoes.
The last recess of the day I stayed out a little after everybody else had gone in. It took me several rounds on the merry-go-round of starting and stopping. Sure enough I started feeling the heat on the bottom of my foot. When I looked at the bottom of my shoe I could see my skin. The sock had been worn through as well.
I proudly skipped and hopped home, due no doubt to keeping the stickers from imbedding the prongs in my foot but also out of joy anticipating a new pair of shoes. I rushed into the house calling my mother. She came to look at the evidence I was presenting her and calmly said, “son, I have some cardboard I will cut for you and show you how you can keep wearing these shoes until cotton harvest time when you can afford to buy your own shoes”.
She could see my disappointment but knew our finances better than I did. This economics lesson was well learned and appreciated through the years.