Gabe, Jake, Herbie and I were all trying to figure out about the Civil War. Danny had got me Civil War toy soldiers for my birthday. He said that the war was a hundred years ago. The one team was blue and the other was gray. Since the one team was gray I asked him if they were Germans, but he said they were Americans, “Confederate” Americans. The blue ones were Americans too, “Union” Americans. That sounded really interesting.
Herbie said he knew about the Civil War because he had lived in the “South” before he came to Ann Arbor. He said the Confederates were the “rebels”, and all the kids he knew thought they were pretty neat, because they were better soldiers and had better generals, like “Robert E. Lee” and “Stonewall Jackson”, though that second guy got killed in a battle.
I liked looking out the big windows in my second grade classroom at school. That side of the room was all windows, looking out onto the corner of Jefferson and Fifth streets. There were four corners. One was the school and the other three just had houses. Houses with upstairs parts that grownups called “two story”, though I didn’t know what they had to do with stories, one or two. But I liked looking at them and pretending what was behind each of the windows. I also liked looking up Fifth street, until it disappeared between the trees. That was the way you walked to get to Allmendinger Park and then across the Park to get to my house. And when I looked up the street, I thought of all the interesting and fun things I could be doing at home or at the park right now, instead of sitting in this room practicing numbers and “penmanship”.
At least my school friends were here too, though only one of them sat next to me. That was my new friend Herbie, who hadn’t been in my first grade class. My old friends from first grade – Amanda, Gabe and Jake – sat in different parts of the room, though we could still see each other and make faces at each other when what the teacher was telling us wasn’t very interesting. We wanted to sit next to each other but the teacher gave us “assigned seats”.
I woke up to the wind blowing against the window by my bed. It felt cold like that wind was getting inside too. My bed was now on top of David’s because they were “bunk beds”. I looked over the edge and David’s bed was empty, he was already up. He usually got up before I did.
When David was too big to sleep in the crib anymore dad went up into the attic and brought down all the parts for the other bed like mine. Our room was too small for both beds to be on the floor so dad had to hook mine on top of David’s. Mom was worried I wouldn’t like climbing up to my bed, but I liked it, I liked it A LOT. It felt like I was in a different place, like a submarine or a spaceship, and David couldn’t get up there to bother me.
I really liked listening to stories that dad or mom read to me from a book. Most of the stories mom used to read to me had pictures on every page and just words on part of the page around the picture. Those were books for little kids, because grownups thought that kids needed to see pictures on every page so they could figure out the story and not get bored. Mom would let me see the pages while she read them, and she pointed at each word as she said it. That helped me figure out what all those words were so I could read them myself without anyone helping me.
But dad read me regular books for older kids or grownups. Most of them had only a few pictures. Most pages were all words, and he only showed me the pages that had a picture on them, and he didn’t point at the words when he read them to me, because they were pretty small and close together and there were so many of them. So what I did was listen to the words and make my own pictures inside my head.
It was Saturday and mom took me over to Molly’s new house like she did last Saturday. We drove to the end of our street to where the giant high school was, and then turned left on the “Stadium” street. We drove by the stadium, over a bridge, by the “grocery” store and that “Sunoco” store that had the gas machines. The wind blew the leaves that had fallen off the trees across the street. Then we turned left on this street with big houses and trees, all the houses had that upstairs part. Finally we turned left on Molly’s street, which had more big trees and big houses, like Molly’s new house.
It was a new month, October, when mom said the leaves on a lot of the trees would be changing colors and then falling off onto the ground. I was now walking to school by myself and I had to walk through the leaves on the other side of the park under the trees and then down that “Fifth” street after the park that went straight down to my regular school.
School was okay so far because the teacher really liked me and I was learning how to read really quickly and could even sort of read those “Doctor Seuss” books without anyone helping me. The books I really wanted to read were the ones in dad’s office, like those big red war books. Also the school had its own “library” with books that were easy for kids to read. I also had three new friends, Gabe, Jake and Amanda. One of them was even a girl, but I don’t think she was a “Tomboy” like Molly, because she always wore dresses to school and she thought that boys were “weird”. That was the word she used when she thought something was strange or didn’t make sense. Even though Gabe, Jake and I were boys, and “weird” I guess, she said we weren’t “dumb” like other boys, or “silly” like other girls.
Mom and I were sitting in one of those “office” places, like dad’s in the basement. But this one was in this regular school place called “Bach School” (pronounced like “Baugh”). I was supposed to go to school here, but mom and the other grownups here had to figure out whether I was going to be in “kindergarten” or “first grade”.
This older woman with black hair all piled up on her head sitting behind a big desk said to mom, “The score on Jonathan’s Weschler IQ test is sufficient for us to consider starting him in first grade instead of kindergarten.”
“Good” mom said nodding, “He is a very bright kid. I think he would be bored to death in kindergarten.”
Molly was “moving”. That meant that she and her mom were going to live in a different house and not their house across the street anymore. It would be “sold” so other people could live in it. Molly’s mom had told us when mom and I had gone over to Molly’s house with David too. Her mom did all the talking because Molly was sad and mad and didn’t want to say anything. I tried to look at Molly but she just looked down at the floor. I couldn’t feel anything, though I figured I must be sad too. Continue reading →
After watching that “Lost World” movie I couldn’t stop thinking about dinosaurs. Mom said they lived a long long time ago, before there were any people. I guess they were in charge of things back then. People were in charge of all the animals now, though mom said that people were actually animals too, called “homo sapiens”. But she said we were different from other animals because we could talk and do more thinking.
“There’s the theater”, mom said, pointing to the right as she drove the car. It had this big sign with words on it. Above the sign were even bigger letters on top that spelled the word “MICHIGAN” in red letters. Below it the sign was white, with black words on it that said, “THE LOST WORLD” and other words below that. That was the name of the movie, because I knew all those words from books mom had read me.
That “the” word was all over the place in books, more than just about any other word. It didn’t really mean very much, but it was before other words that meant something. “Lost” was the word for something you couldn’t find. People were always “losing” things and couldn’t find them. And “world” was a really neat word that meant all the places everywhere. There was that other word “Earth” in the Tom Swift books dad read to me that was like “world”, though Tom said that that “Mars” place was a different “world”.