This column by Brent Davis is the first of a series to appear on a bi-weekly basis on MySaline. We’re very proud to have him. Read his biography at the end.
As I write these words, I’m hit with a two-by-four of nostalgic disbelief. Right before my eyes is the year 1964. Everything around me blurs in a Wayne’s World type flashback sequence. You see, it was about this time those 56 years ago that I was about to cross the threshold of my first real “big boy” milestone. On the horizon just two short blocks from my house was the gleaming edifice of learning, the glorious compound of shiny playground equipment, the high-tech home of the chalkboard eraser vacuum machine. Unlike some of the other kids on Gipson Street, I was ready for this milestone. Kindergarten was in the rear-view mirror and I was pumped to begin first grade at East Side Elementary School.
Angie Grant was our principal. You might recognize the name, as the building is now named after her. I only met her a few times during my six years under her supervision, but I’m sure she was a wonderful woman, despite the fact that her husband was the county sheriff and she had one of those automated paddling machines in the back room of her office. At least that’s what the older kids told me.
As the first day drew near, I gathered a cigar box and put supplies that I would need in order to participate fully in Mrs. Raper’s classroom. A few fat #2 pencils, a bottle of Elmer’s glue, a ruler and a small box of crayons would do the trick. I was ready to go.
Now, as the flashback sequence fades and the year 2020 comes back into focus, I think about what the other kids are facing for their first “big boy” or “big girl” milestone facing them next Monday morning. Are they excited? Are they ready to learn? Based upon what I am seeing with the COVID-19 all around us, I’m not sure those two questions could be answered in the affirmative, but at least in some part.
I think about what they will face entering the school. The barriers. The masks. The continued cleaning and sanitizing.
I think about the teachers. I know there is a concern about the safety of the children and from what I know of the educators in our city and county, this concern is a top priority. I also know that our teachers and districts are great professionals. If they are concerned or worried, the students won’t know it. It will be just like any other year, but with extra precautions.
I think about the parents who are sending their children to the school and wondering if they are doing the right thing. I think about the parents who are choosing online learning for their children and wondering if they are doing the right thing.
Honestly, I don’t think there is any way to know for sure until after this is all over. Some will say that it will be too late then. But what I do know, is that we will get to a better place, especially if we all stay calm and rational.
Then, I think of a time in the distant future, some five or six decades away, when a person is thinking back to that time when this particular milestone was reached and the Wayne’s World flashback sequence begins. What will it look like? What will they remember? Will the sequence have a catchy theme song?
“Party on Garth!”
Brent Davis is a life-long resident of Benton. He is proud of his hometown and the good people in it. He served as editor of the Saline Courier from 2011 to 2014. He’s also the author of “As I See It – Memories & Musings of a Middle Aged Southern Man.” See the archive of his columns at www.mysaline.com/brent.