Making As in 2nd grade in Castle Shannon Elementary School in early 1950.

by James K. Sayre

My family moved from Ridgewood, New Jersey to Castle Shannon, a suburb of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania around Christmas, 1949. I was about seven and a half years old at the time and in the middle of second grade in school.

To get to this elementary school, I was picked up outside of the apartment building each weekday morning in a sort of large taxicab and driven a couple of miles to the school. I had a packed lunch in a little metal lunch box, which contained a couple of honey-soaked peanut butter sandwiches wrapped in wax paper and a couple of pieces of fruit. At noon, we each paid three cents for a half pint of milk in a heavy waxed paper container. I remember that our school notebooks all had an outline of Pennsylvania on the front cover, with each County labeled. The Counties were mostly very irregular in shape, which later I found out was due to the state's mountainous terrain.

The school was situated on the edge of a small river valley and was built on stilts in the back part of the structure. We studied arithmetic, spelling and some other subjects I'm sure. I was there only for two six-week report cards, but it was the only school that I made mostly As in. The other kids were mostly from poor families, I guess. When we moved into a house in Mount Lebanon, I was back among the mostly smart kids, so my grades became about average again. Glory for twelve weeks...




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