Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Memories of Kindergarten and Alameda

I'm looking at my kindergarten photo from Webster Elementary school in Alameda, California. I used Google to see if it still exists, but it closed in 1958 having served the Webster Housing Project, opening in 1944. I assume that project was all military family housing. I remember it as a wonderful, racially mixed neighborhood with people from all over the country and many nationalities. Families came there uprooted with fathers off to strange lands.

Looking at the photo more closely I begin to see the differences (all white children in my class although there were blacks in the school) and memories come to mind of the families who were terribly poor. No lunch programs in those days, but we did get free milk which tasted wretched. Wonder what was in it, because I liked milk. The school was a one floor plan with canopies outside joining the buildings to shade the sidewalks.  There were African American and Filipino children in my school and I’d never seen either, being from rural Illinois. Recess was on concrete instead of grass. Right from the beginning I loved school, except nap time on little rugs we brought from home. How boring.

My earliest Christmas memory is 1944 in Alameda, California. Dad was in the Marines and Mother had driven across the country in our 1939 Ford with four small children and my Aunt Muriel to find housing, schools, new helpful neighbors, and what I thought was a very exciting life. My recollection is singing carols in the fog--recalling that it wasn't like Christmas in northern Illinois. The community got together at a school to sing carols. Money was so tight, but Mom did her best. Not sure what the gifts were, but one was a little white glass cat which I still have.

Strange that with so little and living in constant fear of attack, we were all united then. Material riches certainly did not bring Americans any peace, even if we did win that war.

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