Karen, I too have fond memories of attending Lafayette during kindergarten and first grade in '55-'56. The five senses of a small child registered the smell of floor wax, the echoes of foot steps in the long hallways, and the banging of the steam heat radiators. In some old cookie tin or shoe box full of our family pictures is a snapshot of Tad Oride, my friend from across the street, and me at the front entry way of Lafayette on our first day of school. Biting my lower lip, I appear mighty scared and dubious about the whole affair.
The kindness of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gilchrist (Sp? Paul Rosenberg-jump in here, you’ll know the proper spelling of her name!) helped soothe and ease me into the order of things. She ran a happy classroom with fun activities. I seem to recall spending a lot of time mastering how to trace the outline of my hand and drawing lots of sycamore leaves. I never missed a chance to get my daily ration of milk and graham crackers. My indifference to paste eating or nose picking may have set me on an early course of avoidance about joining clubs or cliques.
I recall sitting in the auditorium in rapt attention watching the older students in school performances. I also recall the entire school taking refuge laying silently on the floor of the school basement during an Air Raid drill. The Principal, Mr. Seymour, directed that the brown paper window shades be drawn to protect our eyes from the atomic blast. That’s a common recollection from a Cold War childhood.
The May Day pageant on the playground was high drama. We students danced around the ‘May Pole’ weaving the flag pole with streamers of colored ribbons. Girls wore wreaths on their heads and boys had colored arm bands and sashes around their waists.
Then with a handful of others, I transferred to attend first through sixth grades at St. Thomas the Apostle; home of the snarling "Tomcats", rival to St. Monica's where my three older sisters had attended elementary school. My development at St. Thomas was akin to an experience in Purgatory. Real live scary nuns existed back then who barely allowed kids to breathe. Karen, hopefully things had turned a corner there a decade later and you had a more pleasant time?