Malad, Idaho

I remember spending a couple of weeks in a first grade class in Vale.   This was my first encounter with school because I had not attended kindergarten.   I remember some forced naps on the floormats, but that is about it.  But I DO remember my new first grade in Malad.  My teacher was Mrs. Alcott, and I learned to read there.  I can still picture most of the circumstances associated with reading--the books, the reading group, the pasting and cutting activities associated with it and most of all the feeling I got for being able to do it all so well.  I was born to be a reader.  
Fate smiled on me because at the same time I was learning to read, Nancy was working in the library located in the basement of this courthouse..  I remember going with her there very vividly.  I suppose I walked home by myself.  In the 60's in small-town America I don't think anyone gave a second thought to the safety of a child.  That was fine by me.  I could go to the library as often as I wanted.  Libraries seemed to me then AND STILL ARE NOW the best deal of all deals!  I had a library card!
My siblings have fairly detailed memories of life in Malad.  I only attended first, second, and third grades there, but the memories I do have are still pretty vivid.  The first house we moved into was probably the nicest one our family had had to date.  I remember a built in oven!  Turquoise!  I remember we got a stereo there--turquoise also!  I still remember its smell. We had a Scheherazade album. I seem to recall a quirky semi-comedic Christmas one--"Christmas comes but once a year, so you'd better make haste while the spirit lingers; it's slipping through your fingers SO, don't you realize Christmas can be such a monetary joy!"  I also remember watching Alfred Hitchcock on Sunday nights and 77 Sunset Strip with Cookie on Friday nights.  And Perry Mason, but that theme music scared me.  One Sunday in January, I think, the "Wizard of Oz" came on TV.  That was the BIGGEST anticipation of all!  But those flying monkeys....We slept on metal beds in the basement.  I remember Norma pulling out her eyelashes, so mom tied some big flannel homemade mittens on her hands. I remember a big old upright piano arriving and some lessons beginning for the older kids.  For some reason I was going to be in the house alone for part of the school day--maybe until the big kids came home.  I was given a wooden puzzle of the U.S. to occupy my alone time.  Still to this day when I need to make reference to the location of a state, I picture putting the pieces into that puzzle!  

Across the street was the Pilgrim family.  I wrote about our escapades with them in the Russians chapter.  Down the street a few houses was a family of boys.  We got into a little bit of doctor/nurse play that still sticks in my mind.  I also remember them introducing me to smoking in their barn.  I'm sure my parents were unaware of this stuff.  Perhaps they would have reacted, perhaps not.  Parenting  and society were so different then.

We moved across the tracks after one year.  Now our neighbors were the Sorenson family.  They had enough children that we corresponded in age quite perfectly.  This family had a stylish brick rambler house, and they also had something unheard of in our house--soda pop which they drank on Sundays!  Sheila became my friend in that family, and John admired her sister Sue from afar for the most part.  We didn't have the free ramble of the neighborhood here when it came to friends.   We had to call and make an appointment.  I loved playing in their basement--so many toys!  But our own new farmhouse and farm held allure as well. We also had a new house being built next door which we explored when the carpenter went home. I remember skating, raking leaves, digging through the outbuildings for treasures, and turning some of the chicken coops into playhouses.  This home was heated by a central stove in the front part of the house.  The upstairs was NOT heated, so Norma and I cozied up and spooned with each other!  This hoe hold such good memories--making lye soap in the cellar, Christmas celebrations with new dolls, a birthday once when Aunt Norma showed up with fresh strawberries, angel food cake, shrimp, AND roller skates!

I was baptized while we lived here.  I remember performing in annual spring festival programs at school, having my tonsils removed, reading Heidi, entering the Flintstones "Name the Baby Contest", riding my bike up and down rutty dirt roads behind this house, taking a longer bike ride into town for penny candy, and going to summer primary. I remember spelling bees and Bingo games at school and making a puppet using a light bulb for the head covered in paper mache.  I chose Mr. Bill--the policeman from the Dick and Jane readers.  I also remember the entire school library consisting of books in a coat closet!  But I also remember the anticipation and joy of  visiting that closet!  I remember saying the "Pledge of Allegiance" and the "Lord's Prayer" and putting my head down on my desk each day to say a silent prayer. I remember broadcasts from Chevron Oil about all the places of the world coming over the loudspeaker--narrated by Arthur Godfrey. I don't remember feeling deprived or neglected because my mother worked.  No one ever let me go unfed or unbathed or unloved--although I may have been unattended.

Then the fateful day of a transfer came.  The good news was that we got to eat out EVERY Tuesday for some reason, while Dad was gone--He moved to Arco a few months before school ended.  AND my father got me a little black cocker spaniel puppy the day we moved!

(from The Life and Times of Marilyn Taggart Hadd written about an experience in Malad)

Teddy Couch appeared as a new student in my second grade class at Malad Elementary sometime in February. He held all the magnetism of the "new kid" and we all began to compete immediately for his attentions.  Something about being the new kid's friend held status, but for me it went beyond that.  I was smitten.  Teddy was a dark-haired, dimple-chinned, ruddy-cheeked, baby fat kind of guy and became the object of my secret devotion.  I scribbled passionate (at least as passionate as my second grade vocabulary permitted) notes which I tucked into the ink hole in the corner of his desk.  I don't remember if he reciprocated with notes to me; I just remember that gooshy stomach feeling I got from writing the notes and watching his face as he read them.
                  A few weeks into this new ecstasy I had built up the nerve to cross into a new realm. I arrived early at school so that I could "reserve" Teddy for the day by asking him to play.  In those days at the beginning of each school day you would approach someone and ask if you could "play" with them for the day.  It was kind of an acceptable "dibs" and guaranteed that you wouldn't be left unpaired for the day.  If all of your first choices were already spoken for, you were relegated to playing with someone in "second string", or worst of all standing alone to observe all the fun against the brick wall of the school.  It all sounds terribly cruel now as I relive it in my memory, but at the time it was the perfectly acceptable social order of the playground.  Nevertheless on this particular day, Teddy accepted!  Joy of seven year old joys!
                  We rushed out onto the playground for morning recess.  The early spring sun was shining, the snow on the asphalt had melted, and we could FINALLY AT LAST shed coats and pile them up as we ran free as new spring lambs!  And run we did as only Idaho kids shackled by wool mittens and coats for months and months could.  Inevitably our running turned into chasing and chasing became grabbing and then...
                  I wish I could definitively claim that "kissing tag" that day was my idea.  I would be proud to claim authorship of such an inspired activity.  Kissing tag had been discovered in first grade, a year ago, on probably an identical early spring day but had been short-lived because it had been declared "icky" by a very properly petti-coated Dotty Thorpe who set our standards then.  Fall had given way to hopscotch, jump rope, four-square, roller-skating, and eventually "HOUSE" which we loved.  But here IT was back-- this time uninterrupted by Dotty--same rules (chase, catch, kiss, be chased, be caught, be kissed) and I was intoxicated.  Blame it on too many months of galoshes or my Welsh blood, but I played the game with reckless primitive abandon that day on the playground.
                  I kissed indiscriminately each time I was caught and loped wildly underneath the slides in pursuit of any boy within my reach.  But then one moment freezes among all other moments of the hundreds of days I spent in public education.  For me the planets stood still and forever imprinted on my impressionable memory-- one chubby Teddy Couch, red cheeks even more aglow from running in the spring sun, as he grabbed me in the frenzy and planted a kiss awkwardly on my forehead.
                  This story would have more pizzazz if I could say that Teddy and I skipped our way together through grade school and on into even middle school, but unfortunately that kiss is the last memory I have of him.  Now nearly half a century later when all recollections of spelling bees, waiting in line for hot lunch, boarding a school bus, slamming a book bag against my knee as I ran at the sound of a bell have faded, my mind can still whirl back clearly in time to a two second kiss on a grade school playground.


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