Guest Author: Deborah Naughton Lilly
There have been a lot of wonderful memories from my old grade school. I was the second generation of my family to attend Merrick Hutchison Grade School. My mother attended the grade school back in the ‘30s and ‘40s when one teacher taught two grade levels. The grades included first through eight. She said she remembered learning lessons in math right along with the older class. I started grade school 21 years after my mom did.
It was scary at first being in that BIG school building. Two things I remember from first grade were fire and air raid drills. The fire drill sent you outside the building and down the sidewalk. You stayed on the sidewalk until all the students were accounted for and you received the all clear. The air raid drills took place inside the building in the center hall. Everyone from the school was lined up against the wall. We had to crouch down on our knees and cover our heads with our arms. Can you imagine all six grades crowded in the hall and waiting for the all- clear? Fun thing about these drills: I only remember them from that first year of school. After that, we had tornado drills.
Our class learned the Lord’s Prayer in second grade. Mrs. Florence Hadden was our teacher who taught us the prayer. We said it every day before we went to lunch. Miss Marla Webster was our art teacher in third grade. I remember her fondly because she encouraged us to draw. One project we did was to include ourselves in fairy tale drawings of our favorite character. I chose Cinderella for my project. My drawing was chosen to appear in the school’s display of art projects at the Lake County Fair that summer.
The teacher I had in fourth grade was Mrs. Frieda Parker. One did not get away with much in her class. She was very strict. Funny how she was my sister’s favorite teacher. One summer when we were traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we met her at the rest stop that’s between the two lanes. My sister and I ran right up to her and hugged her like she was related to us. She seemed genuinely pleased to see us both that day.
I had two teachers when I was in sixth grade. Mr. Meyers taught us math, social studies, and science (I believe) in the morning. Then, in the afternoon he was the principal at the school. We were taught reading, spelling, writing and English by Mrs. Rosner after lunch. I believe we had two teachers to get us ready for seventh grade when we would have a different teacher for each class. Do you remember practicing writing the letters of the alphabet? I got a certificate at the end of sixth grade for “most improved writing.”
The last memory I have of Merrick Hutchinson Grade School was the large playground. The school and the playground took up one village block. There were swings, monkey bars, teeter totters, a slide, giant strides, and a merry-go-round. Did you ever try to see how fast you could get a merry-go-round to go and then jump on? When the weather was warmer, we used waxed paper on the slide to make us slide down faster. I learned to play marbles with the boys and was pretty good at it. I remember watching the older boys playing a game called Mumblety-peg. A student certainly would not be playing a game with jack knives nowadays in school.