Stumping On The Kindergarten Campaign Trail 1960

vintage photo Sally Edelstein in suburbs off to school

In the fall of 1960 I would be joining Dick and Jane and heading to Kindergarten

In the crisp fall of 1960 as presidential hopeful Senator John Kennedy beckoned us into a New Frontier I would be embarking onto my own new frontier – Kindergarten.

This New Frontier of 1960 that stood in front of me, was not a set of promises- it was a set of challenges.

What was going to be asked of me?

It held out the promise of more sacrifice, instead of more security. Beyond that frontier were uncharted areas of reading, writing, unsolved problems of arithmetic and science, unconquered puzzles of grammar and geography, unanswered questions of history and civics.

It would be easier to shrink back from this New Frontier, to look to the safety of my home. Mom was the center of my world and the gravitational pull was strong. My parents and the Board of Education, was asking me to be a pioneer on that new Frontier, and it was here whether I liked it or not.

Vintage Childrens School Book Illustration 1960 school bus

Happy Trails

The crowd of mothers at the bus stop cheered; Brownie cameras clicked, the glare of flashbulbs popped; in a few moments the school bus pulled up and my Mom began to melt away into the suburban landscape.

My long journey had begun.

vintage childrens cook illustration school classroom

Vintage Children’s School Book Illustration “Stories about Linda and Lee by Eleanor Thomas Ginn and Co. 1960

School Days

The John Street Elementary school was beautiful, sunny and fresh. The teachers were sunny and fresh too.

“It was time for a new generation of leadership, the class of 1973 begins now!” Mrs. Johnson, my kindergarten teacher exclaimed in a stirring voice addressing me and my new classmates.

We were, she said “…Boys and girls who were not bound by the traditions of the past, boys and girls who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries, children who can cast off the old slogans and delusions and suspicions.”

I was part of a new, thrilling generation. John Kennedy and Mrs. Johnson both said so.

Never before such a generation… never before a candidate…both so new and different.

Vintage Childrens School Book Illustration 1960 teacher and pupils

On the Campaign Trail

As the presidential campaign progressed that fall with Kennedy and Nixon vying for our votes,  so did my campaign in trying to win over my new classmates.

I felt like I was connecting, gaining momentum.

Kids were responding to my wit. My firm resolve to stay within the lines of coloring won admiration. It wasn’t long at all before everyone knew my name.

Vintage Childrens School book illustration 1960 playground

I felt connections as wildly cheering crowds surged around me on the monkey bars, exhibiting unusual grace under pressure, just as I  had successfully won over the grumpy kids on the swing set.  My campaign was plainly catching fire.

The surge continued for a number of days. Then toward the end of the month as mysteriously as it had begun it started to wane. It was a strange, impalpable ebbing away as kids deserted me at the sandbox.

Did I spend too much time trying to win over the playground swing set gang, was I not relating to the core group of block builders, did I flip-flop too much during our somersault sessions?

Or was it simply a false boost in ratings.

I soon came to the conclusion that my name recognition had less to do with me and my actual feats and more to do with sharing the same moniker as our humble basic reader –  Dick, Jane and Sally!

The New Frontier, I found out could be  could be fickle.

Copyright (©) 2016 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

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8 comments

  1. I have fond memories of my kindergarten year. My teacher was so sweet and motherly! Many decades later, I ran into her at a public event. I mentioned that when I was a little guy I wanted to marry her when I grew up. She told me many of her former male students mentioned the very same sentiment when they ran into her many decades later.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pierre Lagacé

    Again beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s put a smile on my face. A delightful recollection Sally. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Frank Bray

    I entered the school of hard knocks when I started Kindergarten in the fall of 1969, the last of the Baby Boomers. My Dad walked me there and I cried all the way and told him I didn’t want to go, but he said it would be all right. My teacher, Miss Pru, was a young and attractive woman in her mid-20s, with a sky-high bouffant hairdo and kind manner. Barely a month into the school year, at recess, some big kids from the other side of the school ran past me and pushed me face-first into the brick wall, breaking my nose and a rib.

    I remember crying and Miss Pru bringing me inside and getting me to calm down by fingerpainting while we waited for my parents to arrive in a taxi (they had no car then). I vaguely remember the trip to the hospital and being wheeled into surgery etc. That was probably the worst thing to happen to me during my school years.

    Thanks for posting this Sally!

    Like

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