The carefree days of summer in 1966 were interrupted by a cautious, yet fearful dad. My mother didn't repeat details, there wasn't time as she gathered us all together to go hide under her king-size bed. With the radio blaring and attached to the phone, the details were being aired across the airwaves of Austin, Texas. There was shooting coming from some unknown source and how many shooters no one knew. My father worked for the Highway Department just minutes from the UT campus. We, however, lived miles away. Since no one was sure what was happening, he called to have Mother move us to safety. As the details unfolded, we were allowed to come out from under our shelter. On August 1, 1966, a deranged and heavily-armed young man named Charles Whitman would climb up to the observation deck of the University of Texas Tower. He would proceed to leave 14 dead and 32 wounded. Etched forever in my memory, as well as the Texas history books, the tower would never be viewed the same way. The observation decks were closed and the fall semester would start with mourning.
Since I can recall so little of these years in school, I referred back to my baby book. In my mother's words, "Janette learned very well and rapidly with Mrs. Hyde. (She was my second teacher in first grade that year) This teacher gave Janette faith in herself. She did very well in writing and received a handwriting award. She was a shy child. She tends to demand too much of herself.(don't think I have ever outgrown that). She walked four blocks to school each day and returned home to play with her baby sister. She got an electric sewing machine (which I still possess) for her seventh birthday, and made a cake from her Easy-bake Oven for her birthday, but it was a flop."
My memory of first grade consists only of this one story. I wore new shoes to school one day, anticipating compliments I am sure. When Tracy- that is all I remember about her, not her face, not her last name, nor her being around any other time in my school history. She preceded, to not compliment my shoes, but instead to draw her foot up and stomp on my shoe! With expressions of horror I said, "Those are my new shoes!" She retaliated, "not anymore!"
I also survived through misguided teaching of the experimental "look-and-say" method of reading. God is good to redeem what was a long road of learning through tutors and to bring me through my college education with excellent grades. Today, my bulging bookshelves of favorite reading books are testimonies to my love of reading as an adult.
Second grade was Mrs. Edwards....a reason for never having any child go to school. As my baby book says, "She had a very non-cooperative teacher with a high temper. (that was nice, but all I remember is she threw fits and cried). Janette became afraid of her, slowing her rapid pace of learning, even though her grades remained good. She would receive the All-Around Award at the end of school year...the highest award given."
Life was more than school
- a baby sister to rock
- first-time boyfriend
- playing with the loads of kids in our neighborhood
- catching lightening bugs - fireflies
- riding horses at my grandfather's farm
- visiting the ranch with my grandmother and cousins
- canning and sewing for each new school year with my grandmother
- birthday cards from both grandmothers with a crisp new dollar bill
- track and field day at school....dancing around the May Pole
- hand-cranked ice-cream....camping
- a mother who got so excited about Christmas that we would sometimes celebrate early
- a handmade train of boxes painted as train cars to hold our Christmas gifts
- sleeping on my grandparents back screened-in porch, hearing nature and feeling the strong wind
- clothes specially sewn by my seamstress mother
- another pregnancy for my mom