Welcome to a series of stories that basically make up my autobiography. It’s not entirely thorough, but I’ll do the best I can with the memories locked away inside my head. Could be therapeutic for me. Could be humorous for you. Either way, enjoy…
Previously on Life Story… Grace Kelly was my babysitter. Take that, Classic Hollywood!
Kindergarten was a time of great turmoil. I was five years old when I started at East Salem Elementary School. My teacher was Mrs. Fields. I don’t remember much about her, but she made a mean chocolate chip cookie.
School itself was a fairly uneventful time. I’m told that Mrs. Fields let me read to the class to show off my child prodigy/developing genius level reading skills. I’m not sure if it was all that impressive. Kindergarteners I work with read to me and I find myself stifling yawns. Can we get some easy reading books that have a serious plot? I get it, the kids in the picture see the dog. Where’s the character development? Where’s the conflict?
Anyway, I also remember the teachers and aides teaching us the letters of the alphabet (which I already knew, thanks to Princess Grace), by using characters known as Letter People. If I remember correctly, the consonants were all male and the vowels were female. Kind of an unbalanced society if you ask me.This was the year of the big flood in the Roanoke Valley. November of 1985 brought lots and lots of rain. It was the flood that eventually brought about the downfall of Lakeside Amusement Park, which was apparently a big deal back in the day. I was forced to stay at school late on the day of the flood. Buses weren’t running because it was unsafe. It was the first and only time I ever ate dinner at school. East Salem was very close to Mason Creek, which rose pretty high. Also near the creek was a trailer park. When the flood waters came, they carried off some people’s homes with them.
I turned six the following March and invited all my classmates to a birthday party at McDonald’s. For a long time I told people that this is where my fear of clowns was born. I created this story where someone dressed as Ronald McDonald carried in my birthday cake. But he tripped over his floppy red shoes and fell forward, causing his fake red wig to catch fire when he got too close to the lit candles. It’s a ridiculous story, but for a long time, people seemed to buy it. I’m here to tell you it’s not true. Nothing that crazy happened at my sixth birthday party. Unless you count stacking those old Styrofoam Big Mac containers to see who could build the tallest tower. Yeah, we were pretty crazy back in Salem, VA.I wish I had more to say about my time at East Salem, but that one year was it for me. After that I would be in Roanoke for the rest of my school days.