February 22nd…“WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM YOU REMEMBER HAVING IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL?”
It was a hot mid-August afternoon in the summer of 1967 and our family had just moved into a new home on the north side of Battle Ground, Washington. Quivering with fear in my ‘Beatle Boots’, I had to face the reality of enrolling in a brand new school. So, with a roll of the steering wheel, my mother brought our 1963 Dodge 330 off of Parkway Avenue into the driveway of the Battle Ground School District Main Campus for the first time. Just weeks before, our family had left our beloved hometown of Kiester, Minnesota and had driven 1,720 miles to begin a new life in Washington State.
My problem, other than being a pimpled-faced teenager with enough skin oil to grease a frying pan, was that I felt totally lost and overwhelmed by the gigantic layout of this new school campus compared to our much smaller school back home in Minnesota. Another problem I had was a massive inferiority complex accentuated by a silver-crowned tooth that “sparkled” right in the front of my mouth. It appeared like I had caught the “Lone Ranger’s” silver bullet in my mouth and was showing it to the world every time I smiled. I had received this embarrassing “trophy” when I crashed my bike on a gravel road on the last day of 6th Grade back in Minnesota. My facial accident happened while trying to ride across “ice boil” wash-boarding as I flew down the hill on the gravel road near our farm. The handle bars “jack-knifed” and threw me forward off of the bike. I landed on that gravel road directly on my face and broke off that front tooth at a glaring three quarter slant. Dr. Pirsig, our kind dentist back home, said the best fix would be to cover the broken tooth with a silver crown. So now, here in this new town and culture, I was super concerned about being made fun of by all these “strangers” I’d be going to school with now in this new alma mater for education.
The East Junior High Building stood there as a regal classic. It was a two story brick monument to education and had been constructed in the 1920’s. At that time, it had been the original High School edifice until the “new” High School was built nearby in 1953, or so. Over the years, an impressive growth of ivy vines had crept up the entire brick surface of the east face of the school; giving it an aura of the traditional “ivy league halls of education”. As Mom and I stepped into those massively long hallways, they talked back to our footsteps with corresponding echoes off the walls. As we approached the door, graced with multi-paned glass windows, of the school’s Main Office, I gave it a pull to open. The old, dry hinges on that antiquated door needed oiling badly, so the resultant creaking gave the announcement of our presence into the administration office.
Looking up from her desk, the brilliant smile of Mrs. Pat Smith (Junior High School Secretary) gave both Mom and I a sense of a warming welcome into this new world of education that would become my alma mater for the next five years. With a maternal sweetness, Pat Smith, that dear soul of godly womanhood, made us both feel “at home” already as she began to get me registered for the Fall 8th Grade classes of the 1967-68 school year. Comfort flooded this scared young teenager’s spirit because now I knew that there was going to be a refuge in this dear person that I could go to for answers anytime I needed. All I had to do was pull open that squeaky office door and find that kindred spirit in the smiling kindness of our Junior High School Secretary, Mrs. Smith. I felt then, and still do today, that our loving Lord had placed one of His “angels” to greet, set at ease and encourage my soul in the bodily form of this precious lady whom I still count as a dearest friend of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.
2 thoughts on “Norwegian Farmer’s Son…February 22nd”
The Smiths were great people!
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They SURE WERE, Sibby!!! Pat and Ralph were gems! Not that they didn’t have their own personal struggles, like us all, but their heart intent was soooo good!!!
Love n hugs,
Elliott > ;o)