As we move through these questions, they become harder and harder to answer, not because the questions are more difficult, they’re not, but because it seems like they’re more generic. Also, a lot of them seem to be slight variations on other questions so it feels like I’ve already answered things.
Which brings us to “How did you get to school as a child?” Now, again it seems that in order to answer this question we need to lay down some definitions, especially what is meant by “child.” As my daughter is fond of saying, “I’m a child, just a grown-up one.” So are we talking about primary school or anything up until graduation from high school? I’m going with the latter, which gives me a little bit of leeway in my answer. As for the “how did you get” part, I’m figuring they mean forms of transportation as opposed to something more esoteric*.
So where to begin? My earliest memory of school would be kindergarten, held in a mobile home or converted trailer of some sort. Is this a real memory? No clue. I’ll ask the folks. But wherever it was, I don’t remember how I got there. First grade (and the first half of second), on the other hand, was at John Baker Elementary in Albuquerque, NM. As I recall, the school was across the street behind the house and on the other side of a concrete drainage ditch. I’m pretty sure I walked to school, possibly with my parents alongside, but I know I remember running up and down the steep walls of the drainage path.
Second half of second grade was in Vegas, at Doris Hancock, with the absolutely evil Miss Posey. She was the kind of teacher who believed in corporal punishment and getting hit on the hand with a metal ruler, for whatever minor infraction, was not an uncommon occurrence. Again, not sure how I got there in the morning, but pretty sure I walked myself home. Not because I remember doing it by myself, but because I do remember making myself lunch and watching afternoon TV by myself**. I could be completely wrong here, but the memory of being a latchkey kid is strong.
Third grade was at Saticoy School in North Hollywood. I went there because my cousins went there. Here, I know I would get driven to my aunt’s house in the morning and then go to school with my cousins. Mom would then pick me up from my aunt’s house after work. Pretty sure we walked back and forth to school, but not anywhere near positive.
Things start to get clearer after we left LA and made our way back to Vegas. There, for the next two years, I attended Pat Diskin Elementary (an incredibly influential place in my development, and which I’ve written about before). When we first moved back to Vegas, I was driven to and from school every day, since our house was several miles away. However, the folks had done research which told them Diskin was one of the best schools in town, so they enrolled me there, and then went looking for a place to buy within that school district. Eventually,
they found a place just up the street so walking and then riding my bike to school became possible. I also had nearby friends, so it wasn’t a solo effort, we were in teams, packs, and gangs going and coming from our educational pursuits.
Sixth grade was at what they called “Sixth Grade” centers (a horrible experiment in desegregation). Mine was Matt Kelly and we were bused there. Except I wasn’t until a couple months after school started. I started sixth grade at Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School, the private religious school run through our temple. It was pretty miserable and way out of the way, but I would get driven there every day so I wouldn’t have to ride the bus. Not sure why I was taken out***, but in October or November of that school year, I went back to the sixth grade center, riding the bus with my friends from elementary. Those bus rides were also where I met AAron, who became and remains one of my best friends.
And in fact, the following year, when we all started up at Kenny Guinn Jr. High, AAron and I would ride our bikes the couple of miles to and from the school****. This was pretty much our MO for the three years we attended (unless it was raining, in which case we’d bum rides).
The first year of high school, at Western, AAron and I would get rides daily, since it was far and we weren’t old enough to drive yet. But by the last two years of school, when I was back at Clark, I had a car, so driving myself (and others) was the way to go. Literally.
Hmmm… as is usual with these little prompts, my roundabout way of answering has certainly opened up memories I haven’t thought about in years. Who’d’ve thunk it, a conversation about how you got someplace reveals how you got to where you are now.
* The answer to which could easily be “practice, practice, practice.”
**Speed Racer was completely off-limits as it was too violent.
*** not sure the kidnapping of Cary Sayegh had anything to do with it, but that did happen at that time.
****Often stopping at the Vons or Safeway to read comics and play video games on the way home.