The Best Year

A little about me....

I was born in Englewood, New Jersey in 1956. My family lived in Cresskill, but it was such a small town there wasn't a hospital. When I was 3 we moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and I have lived here ever since. Back then elementary schools had grades 1-7 and then we went to high school. After graduation from UGA in 1977, I got my first teaching job in Gwinnett County as a 2nd grade teacher. Thirty five years later I am still here!

I love old things, especially my 113 year old Victorian house. The floors are creaky and the walls aren't plumb. There is a big front porch to sit on where I watch the neighbors and the world go by. Our little town always has something to do. There are concerts in the park all summer, a Farmer's Market on Tuesdays, great shops and delicious restaurants. My favorite day of the year is July 3rd. That is the day our town has a big fireworks display. My sons and I have a big shrimp boil, 75 friends and family come and we eat outside, then we wander down to the park for the grand finale of fireworks.

The thing I am most proud of are my 2 sons. Logan and Paul are grown, and happily establishing themselves as men in their careers. I couldn't be prouder of these guys!

A day in the life...

The only noise at the breakfast table today were the birds at the window. I ate a bowl of Trix. My brother, Fred, had already found the toy in the box. Trix are for kids!

I was so excited to have on my new flowered shirtwaist dress with the leaf buttons. Mom had just finished hemming it this week. I had to stand still for hours while she measure, pinned and hemmed the big skirt. It looked great with saddle shoes and new white socks.

It was kind of chilly this morning so I grabbed a sweater and my book satchel – and hoped I remembered my homework.

We all walked up the hill to school.

When I arrived at school I put books in the seat under my desk, and then put my sweater and satchel in the coat closet.

Time to start copying my work from the black chalkboard.

Today for lunch we had chicken pot pie, I was very careful walking with my real glass of milk.

During recess we played kickball – glad I wore shorts under my dress.

School was over and I walked down the big hill home – wishing like every day that I had a jet pack to fly me home.

When I got home Bessie was ironing and watching her stories on TV. She fixed my gingersnaps and lemonade. Then I ran upstairs to do my math and spelling homework. Changed into play clothes and ran out the door to play! Sissie was finally home so we rode our bikes around the circle, played gymnastics as we balanced on the fence, and finally Mother May I.

When I saw Dad drive down the street I knew it was almost dinner time. 6:00 sharp. I didn’t want to be late for Fried Chicken, Bessie always makes us that on Thursdays. Peppermint ice cream for dessert.

After dinner Dad and I played Parcheesi in his study. We do that every school night. His pipe smells so sweet.

I TV show – before bedtime.

Then I crawled into bed with my stuffed animals and listened to a record as I fell asleep. Another great day to be 8.

When I think about 1964 . . .

I remember happy days at the library. Each week my mom took us to story hour and then to check out a stack of books. I can still hear the crinkle of their protective covers and smell the mustiness between the pages. I loved my elementary school teachers. In particular Miss Keaton, she was probably the youngest teacher I had. She was so sweet and for once and only once I earned an A in conduct. Her influence was huge and I think maybe why I became a teacher! When I was in high school, my mom owned her own bookstore for children. I know that is why I became a reading specialist!!!

Another big event that year, my dad designed and built our new house. It was a cape cod style with 3 big bedrooms upstairs. I had 2 dormer windows that looked out on our front yard and the circle at the end of our street. I loved sitting in my window seats. My imagination soared there. Some days I pretend I lived in the "olden days" and only had candles for light, other days I snuggled up with a good book, but most of the time I built Barbie houses there and played for hours. The Cuban Missile Crisis was a part of my childhood, so my dad added a bomb shelter to our basement. Many of my friends had these. Ours was back in the far corner and two steps deep down. There were 2 big pipes with caps on them for fresh air should we need them. We were suppose to keep supplies ready just in case. It didn't seem like a big deal, because many of the places we went also had "Fall Out Shelters". After it was no longer needed, my dad turned it into a dark room and learned to develop film from his black and white camera down there. It was the perfect place since it was really, really dark in there! We lived in that house until I graduated from college.

My grandmothers were also a huge part of my young life. Granny, dad's mom, lived here in Atlanta. She had a little apartment and I loved to spend the night with her. We dug in her garden, played shuffle board outside, and went to Bingo on Friday nights. It was a blast. Nana, my mom's mom, lived in Pennsylvania. She came down for all the big holidays. This was the first year she had to come alone, as Pop Pop had died the year before. When she visited, we baked Moravian cookies and pies, and played hours of gin rummy. I cherish those memories with my grandmothers.

So when I think back on 1964, I realize that 3 things I enjoy now as an adult began in those early years: my love of children's books, teaching, and living in a cozy house with nooks and crannies. And there is one more thing I can't wait for - to become a grandmother myself some day! I was a lucky little girl to have such a loving family.