Waxing Nostalgic: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., Dec. 4th edition of the Devils Lake Journal http://www.devilslakejournal.com/ where I am a reporter/writer. For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit http://www.devilslakend.com/)

Fast Eddie was waxing nostalgic the other day about something he called nectar. He said he thought it was a predecessor to Kool-Aid, as it was some kind of liquid you mixed with water and sugar for a refreshing beverage. Pops travels down memory lane fairly frequently. In fact at lunch recently he was talking about his grandparents and how they immigrated here from Russia not knowing even a smidgen of English, and that his parents, my grandparents, really didn’t learn English until they went to school. My mom chimed in and said her father, who taught in a country school, used the Sears catalogue to teach English to children just learning the language.

The thing about living in your hometown as an adult after being away for many years is you get the opportunity to reignite some long buried memories and do a little waxing nostalgic.

Before it got cold and dark at night here in DL, I often would walk the few blocks to my parents house for dinner/supper or a fire or just for a visit. The stroll takes me by the house we lived in when I was around five years old. It’s a small house and its current owners are renovating it, including painting it a cheerful, pale yellow. The room my sister and I shared faces the street. Some of the things I remember about that room are my sis and I trying to fit a batch of kittens, our dolls and ourselves all into a twin bed. The dolls kept falling on the floor and the kittens kept biting our toes making us giggle, so I don’t think we ever accomplished our mission. I also remember having to wear what I thought at the time were ugly, orthopedic shoes at that age. Sometimes I hid them so I could wear my shiny Sunday black patent leather shoes to kindergarten instead.

A recent visit to Prairie View School to do a story on the school lunch program brought back a lot of long buried memories. Prior to the interview I had scheduled, I needed to kill some time so I strolled around the school, which I attended from grades one through six. It made me remember all kinds of things I hadn’t thought of in many years.

On one end of the school was my first grade room. If I remember right, my teacher’s name was Miss Peterson. (or was it Mrs.?). For some odd reason, I remember something I wore to school. It was a green, corduroy Winnie the Pooh brand jumper (no doubt accompanied by the hideous orthopedic shoes.) If I remember right, during my first couple of years at Prairie View girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, except maybe underneath your skirt or dress en route to school when it was cold outside.

Traversing the length of the school to my sixth grade room, I remembered my teacher’s name was Mr. DeLapp. We had something called New School that year. Our classroom was very unconventional both in its appearance and curriculum. Mr. DeLapp read us Jonathon Livingston Seagull, and we did lots of out of the norm things, many of which I don’t now remember.

When I took a peek on the school gym, I remembered that I kind of sucked at most physical activities at that age, so some of the memories aren’t so pleasant. I also remember auditioning in the gym to be in a musical. The audition was with music teacher (and our neighbor) Mrs. Zwemke. Lastly, and fitting for the Christmas holiday, I remember being Mary in a Christmas play and even at the young age of six, feeling honored to play the role.

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