September 2, 2021

Just Saying…

By Q.C. Jones

An Early Back-to-School Remembrance

If September stands for nothing more, it represents the launch of the school year. Every living man, woman, and child in our country has experienced this end of summer phenomenon. I have yet to speak with a single soul who does not possess deeply rooted memories from at least one experience during the first days of school – regardless of their age or educational level.

Armed with this point, I would like to take you on an autobiographical trip down memory lane. Along the way, I suspect you might find yourself daydreaming about your own start of school experiences.

Rewinding the memory tape to some point back in Eisenhower administration, I can see, smell, and almost taste, that very morning of the opening day of first grade. Setting the stage, the summer leading up to first grade were marked by two life changing events.

First, my family had moved into a small house on Prairie Street about a half mile from what once was called the Hewittville School. My parents learned that most people in the neighborhood allowed their kids to walk to school unaccompanied. So, unlike my kindergarten experience, I would no longer need to be taxied to school each day. Freedom and responsibility were “mine, all mine” and at the ripe old age of six this was a heady experience.

More important to the summer of my sixth year was my bicycle riding prowess. I learned to ride a bicycle at an early age. The problem was my pride prevented me from getting a “kids’ bike.” My bike was an adult bicycle made from parts accumulated by the local police when bicycles were recovered from various places. My dad put it together and made it ridable, except for one little issue. It was way too big for my five-year-old legs. I could ride it but always required the assistance of a grownup to hold it while I climbed
on board.

Over the summer I had a growth spirt which allowed me to finally mount and dismount the bicycle without adult assistance. During the summer, I learned one of my older, if you can refer to a nine-year-old as such, friends was going to ride his bike to school. This launched my epic battle to convince my parents to allow me the same privilege.

Over the years I have earned my living in one sales capacity or another. Today, I am viewed as a bit of an expert in the field and consult with companies around the globe. However, this early “selling job” must go down as my lifetime masterpiece. By the launch of school, I had the full ahead approval to Cadillac to school on my freshly repainted two wheeled vehicle.

It would be an understatement to say, I was excited about starting school. The truth is I was living on the edge of anticipation; new school, new friends, and more importantly newfound freedom were dancing like Santa’s Sugar Plum Fairies through my tiny brain. Citing her philosophy that time passes more quickly when kids are sleeping, mom suggested I go to bed early. The idea made sense, so I went to bed soon after dinner time.

While I cannot recall my dreams through the night, I am sure they didn’t include reading, writing or arithmetic – but dream I did. Even more important to the story, I was up at the crack of dawn.

Our family didn’t rely on alarm clocks. My dad was up at 6:00 AM every morning, it was his personal hard-wired alarm clock. Generally, he got up early and took off for work. So, I found nothing unusual in the finding him gone and the cornflakes box occupying a spot on the kitchen table. I duplicated his breakfast choice, had a hearty breakfast, then dressed for school.

Because it was daylight, dad had left for work and the rest of the family seemed to be sleeping, I figured it was time for school. I bounced down the three-step porch of our house, hopped on my bike, and peddled off for the official launch of my academic career.

It was a quiet ride. I couldn’t help but notice none of my friends were out yet. Seeing that, I surmised I was late and peddled all the harder. Rounding the corner and traversing the large set of railroad tracks, the Hewittville School came into sight. It was a formidable building, a hundred-year-old brick structure with three stories and a large bell tower. The whole thing was imposing and empty. I saw not a soul in the school yard empty, parking lot, or otherwise.

Being determined to get this educational process started, I went up and tried to enter the door. It was locked. Nervously perching on the top step of the front door, I pondered the situation. In
minutes that passed like hours, the janitor approached the building and asked what I was doing. I boldly told him going to school. Admiring my bicycle, he suggested I ride home and wait until time for school. School didn’t start for another couple of hours.

This might have been the first and last time your pal QC was early for anything. I will never forget that day. Just saying…

Filed Under: History, Humor