November 22, 1963

I was inspired by a Slice of Life I read last week on Kathleen Neagle Sokolowsk’s blog. She wrote a poem about a special place as a model for her students. She chose to write about her grandparents’ home on Dianne Street. In addition, I had also just read a prompt post by Christie Wyman about a similar memory poem that ended with “But mostly, I remember…” so I used that, as well. It is amazing how you can be given a gift of memory through the right writing prompt. This day and idea came to the top of my list when I thought about my elementary school. I didn’t as much remember the place as the experience, but I did try to focus a bit on where the memory happened as well.

November 22, 1963

I remember walking down the hallway at Grove Avenue Elementary School on the concrete, smooth and worn. The paint was mostly removed and the surface polished by decades of saddle shoes and loafers padding through the corridors.

I remember arriving at the library with the welcoming smell of old books and happier times. Normally this was the place to sit on the carpet and hear the teacher read us a story of conjuring and castles, of dragons and dreams, of enchanted fishes and wishes granted or denied. One time I even got to sit in the teacher’s chair and turn the pages of the big LP storybook every time Tinker Bell rang her little bell on the record player. Not today though.

I remember Mrs. Leuer leading us into the library with her commanding presence, where wordlessly she told us to sit crisscross applesauce on the floor. Her black soft curls were like Elizabeth Taylor’s.

I remember the sad realization that there was no story today.  We sat in front of the big, black box of a television on a stand.

I remember the tears raining down my teacher’s cheeks. She removed her glasses and wiped her eyes while she watched the news on this brisk fall day.

I remember feeling worried, with my fellow kindergarteners, as we looked on in confusion at the adults who should be in control but weren’t.

But mostly I remember learning that Caroline and John-John didn’t have a dad any more.