We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home Town News Story

It's not every day you see an article about your home town on the front page. On Saturday morning when I retrieved the newspaper, I glanced at the headlines like I always do, and there on the left side, "West Seneca, N. Y." grabbed my attention. I learned that Winchester Elementary School now houses a robot that allows a young student  with life-threatening allergies to attend school from home. The very school my sister and I attended in the 1960s. We lived close enough to walk.

Winchester Elementary School
I can still see the long wide hallways and the quiet library with dark wooden tables and chairs where the librarian read It's Like This Cat. I can hear the lunchroom monitors banging their trays on the tables when it became too noisy. We bought milk for three cents, peanut butter cookies for a nickel, and ice cream for a dime.

In first grade, Miss Pinjack made me write sentences for dirty fingernails. ("But I was playing in the sandbox.") She also taught us the principle of evaporation by using a red pen to mark the decreasing water line on a clear drinking glass.We made silhouettes one year and played with a huge ROY-G-BIV parachute in gym. Much to my mother's dismay, we learned the new math. When I didn't know my multiplication tables by fifth grade, she patiently tried to drill them into my head. "7 x 8 is 56. See? 5 - 6 - 7 - 8."

I did pretty well in school. But I loved music class and chorus. With a beehive of graying hair, Mrs. Nixon played the piano as we sang from graded music books in the sunny classroom at the end of the short hall. My sister and I laughed through these songs as we did dishes in the evenings:

Come and hear the German Band, German Band, German Band.
Oh, the weather is so grand for the big parade.
First there comes the drummer, and as a drummer, he's quite a plumber.
He's off the beat on every number, and no one knows how come
They let him drum! 

Our concerts made a lasting impression on me. In the turbulence of the 1960s, we sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth," "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor," and "No Man is an Island." At the time, I didn't recognize the significance of the lyrics, but they somehow struck a chord in my heart, and I've remembered them word for word all these years.

I'd love to go back to Winchester Elementary School, to walk those familiar hallways once more. To peek into my classrooms and wander around the playground. And just maybe I would meet a four foot robot careening down the hallway at the end of a line of second graders. All going to Music in the sunny classroom at the end of the short hall.

What stories do you remember from elementary school?


Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine Story


We dance together, you and I, in step to life's music.

The sound of trumpets and flutes
Twirls us around busy everyday.

The driving bass and roll of drums
Command matching steps of duty.

But when the soft whisper of violins catches us close and slow,
I look into your eyes
 and know,
Whatever the orchestra plays,
We will always dance . . . together.

I'm not a dancer. And probably never will be in the way most people think of dancing, say, at a wedding or a party. But I do have a dancing partner. He and I dance together every day.

We've danced to romantic strings and organ overtures. We've swayed to lullabies by night and rocked to blues by day. We heel and toe with busy everyday tunes and march in rhythm with dutied steps: left, right, left, right . . . . We've tapped in the shadows and twirled in the spotlight. We've held it together, dancing partners for life.

But sometimes we step on each other's toes. We find ourselves moving to contrasting tempos - or even two different songs. Our rhythms and steps fall out of sync. As I think about it, our dancing styles couldn't be more opposite. He usually likes the fast-moving music, out and about; I enjoy quiet and slow, at home if you please. When our good intentions fall apart, we muster up a forgiving smile . . . or find ourselves a little space. We'll make another attempt. Soon.
As lesson-lacking as our dancing appears at times, I'm grateful to have a partner like Barry. Because I know, whatever the orchestra plays, we will always dance . . . together.

Happy Valentine's Day to my husband.
I love you.