by Leonard Sullivan
I am thankful I attended school in the era when it was safe, educational, disciplined, fun, and preparatory for life. There were no security devices, rather a teacher was at the front door on rainy days to insure everyone scraped the mud and manure off their boots and shoes before entering the building. All boys carried pocket knives in those days.
We played, fought, studied, (in that order), and created our own entertainment, games and rules, and then we followed those rules. There was limited adult supervision on the playground. When we played “work-up” softball, two older boys would be captains and they took turns choosing his team one at a time, including the girls, until all who wished to play were chosen. Yes, we definitely kept score. At this time no one was concerned about self-esteem, you created your own! As we got older we assumed a larger role in this micro society.
In high school teachers taught and we listened and studied. We learned the subject matter. We also benefitted from experiences outside the classroom . We could leave school to help fight grass fires, or help a farmer or neighbor who was in need of assistance. Snow days were the days the weather was so bad the school buses could not make their routes. There were no make-up days at the end of the school year . The days we were not in school because of snow were good for rabbit hunting. We also missed other days of school during the year such as county fair days when we showed animals or the “fair day” when we were taken to the State Fair on the school bus. We had days off to visit the State Capital with our teacher who was a Senator at the time, we visited museums, went to major league baseball exhibition games played by teams on their way north after spring training. I have a baseball signed by Bob Feller and a program signed by Sachel Paige from attendance at these games. It was at that one of these games I saw my first example of racial discrimination. A taxi arrived at the ball park and three black players disembarked. I asked my coach who had brought us to the game why they weren’t on the bus with the other players. He told me they had to stay in a “different” hotel. This was 1950 in Oklahoma . This made a lasting impression on me.
There was some sexual discrimination at the time. Our basketball coach took the “boys” basketball team to the all-college tournament at the old Municipal Auditorium in Oklahoma City.
Upon graduation 99 percent of the students were prepared for life. We were able to get a job, go to college, or join the military. The scourge of student loans had not been injected into young people at this time of our history. The term “I’m working my way through college” was a common saying, but rather quaint today. Our parents and teachers prepared our generation for life as an adult. At an early age we learned to work, whether picking blackberries, mowing lawns, bailing hay, soda jerking, whatever, we learned a work ethic.
We could use some of that “old school” formula in the schools today, don’t you think??