Memories of Pequot School
Getting to school on the first day of first grade, 1939, was a hassle. My mother thought I was supposed to go to Sherman School, but when we arrived there she was told I had to go to Pequot. We walked all the way to Pequot, only to find a crowd waiting to get registered. My mother decided we should walk all the way home, have lunch and then come back in the afternoon and register. We did, and when we came back the principal's office was clear and I was finally able to register. My mother walked home and I was escorted to the first grade room. The classroom was full, and already I felt as though I was not part of the group, since I had missed whatever went on before I got there.
Getting home was another problem. At the end of the day, there were several buses waiting for us. The teacher put me on one bus that was a much older, boxy type. The bus left and headed towards Fairfield Center, but when it came to my road, it made a left turn instead of a right. I thought, "Okay, he will get to my road sooner or later." But pretty soon all of the kids had gotten off the bus, and I was all alone with the bus driver. He asked me where I lived, and when I told him, he said I was on the wrong bus. However, he said he would take me home this one time. The next day, my mother went to see the teacher and told her what had happened. The teacher couldn't stop apologizing to my mother, although my mother was not angry -- she just wanted me on the right bus.
One memory I have of the first grade is when the eighth grade class was practicing graduation exercises towards the end of the school year. The music played for the procession was "Pomp & Circumstance," which I thought was very beautiful. For the rest of the school year, I often thought about how someday that music would be played for our class. The only other memorable event was when someone made us lockers with many doors out of clear pine, about two feet high. I don't remember if the lockers were shared, and they were built so close to the end of the school year that I don't recall getting much use out of them.
Second grade passed without any incidents, except for the arrival of the "class clown," who was always causing problems. One time the teacher tied him to a straight back wooden chair and left him in the cloakroom. While he was in there, he untied himself and gathered up all the hats, gloves and galoshes, and threw them up on top of an abutment that protruded into the cloakroom. We didn't find out until it was time to go home! He had a knack for making everybody laugh. One year we studied poetry and were assigned to write one and read it to the class. He decided to do a takeoff on the poem "The Night Before Christmas," and had the class in full-blown laughter.
In third grade, we had the opportunity to be in the Fife & Drum Corps for our school. I wanted to play in it and persuaded my mother to give me a dollar to buy a fife. I soon lost interest, however, and did not learn to play the music. The teacher noticed and was not happy about it. She told me I was just there to take up space. I marched in the Memorial Day Parade, however, bluffing it all the way from Pine Creek Road to the Town Hall, and got my ice cream as promised.
Fourth grade was memorable in that we had a new teacher. She did not stay long, as she joined the Women's Army Corps (WACs). She came in for a visit once with her uniform, and all the girls in our class were quite admiring of her.
During the war, we were asked to buy war savings stamps and put them in a folder. When there was enough, it was traded for an $18.75 war bond. We were also asked to make donations for tuberculosis and got a small red plastic pin shaped like a telephone pole with two crossbeams.
Also during the war, as I remember, the neighbor to the rear of the school beyond the wooden fence allowed a "Victory Garden" to be planted there.
During seventh grade, our class clown got into trouble again. Near the holidays, teacher sent him up in the attic to gather some decorations. All were silent, listening to the teacher, when all of a sudden there was a loud crash in the back of the room. A foot was hanging down through the ceiling with a leg attached to it -- he had slipped off of one of the rafters!
About this time of year, Southport Harbor would be frozen over. Several times, I would sneak down to the green at the harbor with a friend or two and check out the broken ice floes near the shore -- until one day we got caught. That was the last time we visited the harbor.
Starting in about the sixth grade, we were sometimes allowed to go to the Wakeman Boys Club next to the Pequot Yacht Club. We enjoyed the pool and Ping Pong tables, and there was even a small wood shop there. A basketball court with a very high ceiling was upstairs, where we were sometimes tested athletically.
I quickly learned, however, that basketball was not for me. After playing on the basketball court for only a few minutes, I tripped and slid headfirst into the concrete wall. The next thing I remember is waking up halfway across the court with two classmates carrying me to the bleachers.
The Wakeman Boys Club also showed science fiction and western movies every Wednesday night. The movies cost a dime, and were shown in the red brick building across from the Boys Club.
In eighth grade I thought, "Wow, I finally made it this far!" That being said, I never got to walk the path to the stage with "Pomp & Circumstance" playing. In 1947 I came down with a physical ailment and was not allowed to attend school. An arrangement was made for a local classmate to bring the class work to me, and I would send it back to school with him. However, I was allowed to go and be in the class picture, and I did get my diploma.
We often played games on the playground at school, including one called "Ring a Leavio." Don't ask me how it was played -- I've never again heard of it!
There were several class trips, including one to the General Electric plant in Bridgeport to see how washing machines were made. There were also several trips to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, as well as to the Automat for a snack, and the Bronx Zoo. There were many times when the class was allowed to leave the school grounds with a teacher to go to the Pequot Library as well. The teacher would also acquire recordings of Faust, The Barber of Seville, and others to read along with.
There were no bullies in our school. There was a roughneck, you might say, but I learned soon enough to avoid him. There were also no fist-fights that I remember. I think we all got along quite well with each other.
Of note, someone who had total knowledge of our class wrote a book about us, although the author's name is not familiar to me -- it must be a pseudonym. The book is titled Pequot, the Village School, and was in Pequot Library many years ago. It may still be there, a hardcover about the size of three packs of cigarettes.
I always thought the best of Fairfield Public Schools. We never ran out of books or paper supplies, and the teachers' word was law. I never saw any disrespect to them as you hear of these days. Some teachers were a little more strict than others, but if you paid attention you were never in trouble. I had always hoped that my children would finish school in Fairfield, although that did not end up being the case.