I have been in school 53 years. That's right, as a student, parent and teacher I have spent the majority of my life in education. Reflecting back on those years becomes more common as my life begins to slow down.
One of my first recollections in school was the PTA meetings I attended with my parents. PTA meetings were big events in the post war 1950's. A mix of school information, fundraisers and social events. Like most kids, my focus was on the social events. The pie sales, carnivals, box dinner auctions, skits and entertainment driven by my desires to attend.
My favorite memory of those special days was mom participating in a Minstrel Show with other mothers from the school. What a strange and humorous evening for a child to experience. Mom dressed up as a popular character on the old radio/tv show Amos and Andy.
Blackface makeup, baggy suit, soiled white shirt with wide colorful tie, prominent suspenders and a well chewed cigar complimented her persona that evening. We all rolled in laughter as act after act paraded across the stage. I gained a new insight to my mothers abilities to make people comfortable around her.
How schools have changed! We were a poor neighborhood school in the belly of Oklahoma City. Working class young families whose mothers and fathers were ten years removed from the horrors of World War II and twenty years removed from the dark years of the Great Depression. We lived on the edge of survival, yet, survived and thrived in the booming economical development of the fifties.
The Wheeler Bluejays community in South Oklahoma City was a close knit, desperate group of parents and children all trying to escape the past and move on to happy futures. United by hope and encouraged by each other, most emerged from poverty through hard work and supportive schools ready to assume their roles in the Great Society of the sixties.
The travels of my family members have been down separate roads in different directions throughout the ensuing fifty years. Often, we lost contact with each other and the glue that held us together weakened. But, we all shared those early years and the experiences together gave us the strength to create our own communities. That, I think, is what makes families and communities so important.
I often wonder what memories each of us have taken from those years and how those moments shaped us for the future. To all of you family members. May you achieve in this life what you dream.