Goin’ to School

My little brother looks so bewildered in this photo, and sleepy. After our dad immortalized this moment, we headed out the back gate, across the Gustavson’s yard (otherwise we’d have had to walk on a busy street, a REALLY busy street with streetcars running on it) and on our way to school. Englewood, Colorado. 1958.

It was three blocks.

Of course I had no idea that it was also the first day of ten years of walking to school with my brother. 🙂

There were the days in Montana when we were staying with my aunt and uncle and Kirk started first grade. In Montana, their first grade was Kindergarten the first four months and first grade the second, so effectively Kirk went to Kindergarten twice. My mom always believed that’s why he never got the idea that you go to school to learn, not to play. But…

My aunt and uncle (and cousins) had four steers in the pasture. They were going to sell the steers that fall. I’m glad I did not have a perfect understanding of that because to me they were pets. Bret, Bart, Hobie and Chester I thought were their names. They were really Bret, Bart, Hobart and Festus or something, named after TV westerns I was too little to stay up and watch.

One of the main crops in that part of Montana in the 1950s was sugar beets. Trucks loaded with sugar beets roared down Central Avenue (which we had to walk beside AND cross) spilling beets along the way. “Pick up as many beets as you can when you come home, kids,” said my uncle. “We can feed them to the cows.”

Kirk and I were little kids, and we couldn’t carry a lot, but we usually came home laden with sugar beets. We got to put them in the cowshed with the other beets we were picking up from the railroad tracks on weekends when we all went out in my uncle’s truck and drove along the frontage road getting the beets that had fallen off the train.

In other walks to school, in Nebraska, we crossed a football field that was on one of the higher hills in our town beside the Missouri River. This place was amazing. Crossing the field one day I found a cecropia moth. In winter, the wind blew hard across the top and drifts could be higher than either of us were tall. Sometimes they piled up against the snow fences placed at either end of the football field and Kirk and I would climb up the crusted snow and jump down five feet to the foot of snow below. Other times the snow came at us (the walk home was straight north) like stars and spaceships. The mufflers my mom knit for us were usually crusted with ice by the time we got home on a winter day.

I liked walking to school with Kirk. I liked Kirk. I have a lot of stories like these — priceless to me, evoked by a photograph.



9 thoughts on “Goin’ to School

  1. Here, our schools are too far for walking. Miles. I walked to school, though. Almost a mile — just short of a bus. We had sidewalks, but we also had snow and ice. Those were days when I had to wear skirts to school (girls didn’t get to be comfortable or warm) and boy oh boy, it was SO cold … and so long ago.

    • Yep. We had a mile in elementary school in Nebraska and two miles to Jr High and SKIRTS. It was cold. Sometimes I put pants on under my skirts — a lot of girls did. I’m glad when we were little kids school was close. It made me feel very grown up to go to school by myself. 🙂

  2. Arn’t they wonderful the memories of the days gone by. Sometimes I wish I could see it all again. If only I had had a digi camera then. It was interesting to see how life for you in the younger years was. The first time I saw a sugar beet was here. They were piled up on the edge of the harvested field waiting for the truck to pick them up to take them to the central place for further operations. No sugar beets left on the wayside in Switzerland – it’s money, but I can imagine how it must have been.

    • I was happy to see sugar beets in Switzerland. They were money for Montana back in the day, but now we have Hawaii and their economy is more or less based on sugar cane.

      Yeah, I wish I could kind of fly over the old days and watch everything from above. I would savor that chance. ❤

  3. I actually forgot about it being Labor Day weekend. I am amazed at how one can adapt to extreme temperatures. When June climbed over a hundred, I thought I was going to die. Now 100 is a little warm but not bad.

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