02 January 2010

High school

Well, not really high school; intermediate school. But I was out of the sixth grade, out of primary school, and for the first time went to different teachers for different subjects!

I think it was this latter that really impressed me. In primary school, we sat in one room all day long, with one teacher, who taught us all subjects. I think I knew that in high school, you had different teachers, in different rooms, for different subjects, and that seemed unspeakably glamorous to me.

Actually, the intermediate school I went to was an 8-grade school - at least I presume so. Its name was "Bird Street Elementary School" and I was trying to find a photo of it on the web just now, but have not succeeded. I found:

  • a lot of Maidu Indian pages - referring to Maidu people who had been at school there
  • a school rating page that gave it a rather humbling 5 out of 10
  • a page that appeared to say that it only goes through 4th grade now - don't know where grades 5-8 go in Oroville

For me, Bird Street Elementary was Big Time.

I remember only bits of it, however:

  • Ida Huganey - she was the principal and in 1954 was about a hundred years old, or so it seemed to me. She was, in fact, pretty old, dressed in what memory would call fairly Victorian dress. A nice lady so far as I recall - which basically means that I never had a run-in with her.
  • Mr Wolcott - the band director. My memory makes him fairly young and I really liked him. I played cornet and we had a real marching band - perhaps a sort of concert band as well. The uniforms were a different issue - see below.
  • Mr Jernigan - 7th grade Science teacher. We dissected the standard cow's eyeball. I was mad on science by now, anyway.
  • Mrs Hubbard - 8th grade Science teacher (it is surely significant that I remember only my science and music teachers). Mrs Hubbard was divorced! I recall being fascinated by this. I had never really heard about divorce before.

My memory may be unreliable, and no doubt Peter can correct me. Something vaguely in my head is questioning whether Mrs Hubbard was, indeed, at Bird Street - or was she at Oroville Union High School? Perhaps my brother remembers.

Those marching band uniforms were, I am told, purple. "I am told" because as I have remarked I am colour-blind - one of several sorts known as "red-green blind." The result is that blue and purple are not very different for me.

But apparently turkey cocks are not colour-blind. And the purple of those uniforms was a red flag to our turkeys. I surmise they are roughly the colour of the blood-engorged wattles on turkey cocks, which may be a challenge to fight.

When my mother was to drive us to band performances, dressed in our uniforms, I had to go from the house to the car.

I ran in terror. The turkeys would see me, come gobbling at me, and if I were not fast, hit me with their wings - the 'wrist' part, I think it was. I was often in tears. I didn't think it was very nice of my mother to laugh - but perhaps it was difficult for her to control herself.

September, 1954 until June, 1956 were my two years at Bird Street Elementary. In September, 1956, I was off to Oroville Union High School.

Footnote -

I just found the 1910 census for Oroville. It mentions Ida Huganey, aged 14, living with her French father (the surname Huganey is a spelling of Huguenot, the French Protestants), her Pennsylvania mother, and her sisters Edna and Annette, at 1316 Safford Street, which I had never heard of, but which turns out to be on the levee (river) side of Montgomery Street - not a nice side of town when we lived there.

So if, as seems possible, that was the principal of Bird Street Elementary, then she was not a hundred years old, only 58, when I started - close enough to a hundred for a 12-year-old boy, I suppose.

No comments: