September 3rd…“WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR VERY FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN AT KIESTER PUBLIC SCHOOL?”
My parents should have told the family rooster to take the day off on my first day of Kindergarten. His robust, “COCK A DOODLE DOOOOOO!!!”, was totally unnecessary. Geeee twilligers, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before Mr. Rowdy Rooster even peeked his eyes up over the edge of his nest in our chicken house. I was beside myself with the excitement of stepping up from babyhood into the big kids world of school buses, playgrounds, color crayons and pencils the size of tree trunks! No longer would I be relegated to just standing in the doorway of our house to gaze at our elder siblings rocketing out the front door for Marie Meyer’s bus each morning. Now, I would join them in their adventure within the hallowed halls of…….”education”.
Even though it felt like Kindergarten lasted all year long (speaking of it in the positive vein, of course), our beloved mother, Clarice, shared in later years that my first exposure to public education was a mere six week endeavor in our small farming town of Kiester, Minnesota. Class commenced in April of 1960 and joyfully lasted to the end of that school year.
If our mother’s chauffeur service wasn’t available for getting me to my Kindergarten class on a certain day, then our Cousin Lyle Noorlun gave myself (and elder sister, Rosie) a ride in our black, 1950 Ford pickup. Either way of transportation was fine with me, cause I was beyond excited to get to be part of the “older crowd” now!
The time had finally arrived. I was growing up and entitled to now enter the world of my big brother, Lowell, big sister, Rosemary and our Cousin Lyle who had been living with us for over a year or so.
Between the experience of learning to hold those giant pencils, to our sweet, smiling teacher, Mrs. Wigern, I was ready, set to GO for learning! Upon arriving at the school each day, my tiny scrubadubbed body was ushered to the southeast corner of this stately brick edifice of education that had been built back in around 1928. With energy to spare, I bounded down those concrete stairs till I entered the super colorful “Kindergarten Clubhouse”…….well, at least to ME it felt like a clubhouse; all cozy with tons of things to see and do.
Accompanying me in learning the ABC’s, were my very own, brand new carton of Crayola Brand crayons. Eight basic colors were just waiting for me to wear down those beautiful sharp tips as I colored every page Mrs. Wigern gave to us in our learning activities. Inadvertently, I also learned something else in class…… indirectly. That was my first taste of crayon envy as I saw some fellow students waltz into the classroom with a fat pack of 48 Crayons to use during THEIR school day!!! And, my jealous drool salivated when an obvious “rich kid” hefted in, under his armpit, that massive, rectangular box of a whopping SIXTY FOUR pack of crayons that even had a crayon sharpener built into the back of the box. Talk about Kindergarten Cravings!!! 😉
Being that our classroom was located in the basement of the school, the windows were narrow and located high up on our walls. The imprint upon my memory banks is of when I’d gaze out those windows during the older kid’s recess times. About all I could see were kneecaps flying by housed in either dresses or blue jeans while those older students exuberantly made all the noise they could muster while enjoying the playground just outside our narrow, horizontal windows.
Without a doubt, the real heroine of this tiny child saga was our beloved Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Henry Wigern. I can still see that her greatest beauty was that she possessed, within her, a genuine loving heart and soul that she graciously shared with us little babes in her class each day. When the graduating class of 1972 would look back to 1960, we truly were her “Garden Of Children”. She was like a genteel “feminine farmer” who nurtured her “tiny plants” that each of our lives represented. From her loving care, in those gentle days of the Spring of 1960, many young lives grew up to blossom where they were planted in life. And, like a mature flower brings joy to all who gather in its beauty, the garden of children Mrs. Wigern cultivated, now bless uncountable others in the ripples of life’s stream.
As I reflect back over the many decades of life since Kindergarten, and why its indelible mark is made upon my psyche, I muse upon the concept that maybe I should have been a psychologist. It has fascinated me, over the years, that I have an intense need to analyze every issue and event that I’ve encountered. I guess I’m always looking for the deeper meaning in my life of the age old question……..why? What is it in we human beings that chooses to embed some memories in our brain and let other moments in our history dissolve into the abyss of gray abandon within our brains.
I do know this, I shall always be grateful for God’s provision of loving parents, siblings and others who put me under the warmest care of Mrs. Henry Wigern who launched me into the educational flow for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.