Susan Dennis (susandennis) wrote,
Susan Dennis


My new school, in North Carolina was a half mile from home. There were school buses back then but they only served the kids who lived on the outer edge of the district. Unless you went to private school, you did not chose your school - you went to the one you were assigned to.

I was assigned to Whitaker Elementary school. I was there from the second half of 1st grade til the end - 6th grade. We walked to and from school every day. There were lots of kids on our block and the adjacent ones to walk to and from school with. Thanks to Google maps, I can show you the route.

One major issue at my new school that I ran into immediately was the accent. Although I have not been back there in more than 30 years, today, I suspect, you can wander around Winston-Salem and not even hear much of a southern accent at all. Not the case in 1955. If someone was talking, their speech was quilted in a heavy drawl with weird words and phrases. My 1st grade teacher could have been speaking Manderin for all I understood of what she said. It was a little easier with the kids my age but, honestly not that much. I walked around in a clueless fog for most of the rest of 1st grade. Everyone talked funny.

But that summer I spent getting to know everyone in my neighborhood and they 'learned' me the language. So by 2nd grade I could at least understand what I was being told.

The neighborhood was full of the best kids. Next door, down the street, across the street, there was always an army of kids to play Kick the Can with or Sardines. There were kids older than me and my age and younger than me and we were thick as thieves. We'd leave the house and explore everywhere - creeks and caves and dig holes to get to China. We knew to come home at dark and, often, we'd be out again after dinner to catch lightening bugs or play something else.

Babsie was my age and lived three doors down. Her parents were from Vermont and they spoke without southern accents and I could understand everything they said so I liked playing at her house. Ted lived two doors down the other way. His dad was a juvenile court judge and my Mom's favorite threat. "If you don't straighten up, we'll go see Judge Heefner." (I actually swapped some emails with Ted a few years ago. His Mom, still alive, had just moved from that very house only the year before. The Judge died years ago. Ted's a lawyer in Atlanta.)

Stevie, next door, was always great to play with. His Dad was pilot for Piedmont Airlines and Stevie had his own plane which was great fun to ride in. I wrote about it not long ago...

Some families move away and new ones moved in and always always there were kids to play with. Often when people paint a picture of the 1950's it is of an idyllic neighborhood where kids roam free and Dad works and Mom says home and, honestly, that was exactly how we lived. How all of us lived. No one was divorced or a single parent. All parents pretty much had the same rules. No one locked their door. It was very white. And very protestant. And that is all we knew.
Tags: tbc
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