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Out On The Mudline

First Day Of School Traumatic For All Ages

By W. P. Sissell

It Is That time Of Year

After I joined the central Office staff I found out that when school started, our heavy work load was over and we could sit back and coast for a little while.  

Today, as I listened to the detailed reports being broadcast over WBLE radio, I was reminded of my first day of school—I had my big brother, Reuel Jr., my senior by eight years, to take care of me. Although we had a radio in our home, there was no local station and all the directions were given after our arrival. We had little trouble, so I want to switch to my wife’s first school day which gets very interesting.

Playing Hookey?

Nannette was ready to accompany her brother, Russell. Mamma had fixed her hair just like she liked it—braided pig-tails with a bow in each, a brand new dress and new shoes.  She and Russell were taken to the school at Taylor and let out. The Shipps had just moved back from Jackson, Tenn., and were in the process of building a home close to the “cut-off” road. While the home was being built, the family was living with grandfather and grandmother Shipp.

The building plans may have been on Daddy’s mind that morning. I do hope that any of you readers with very small children will read this several times. Daddy stopped at the school yard and let the children out. It was drizzling rain—Russell—who knew all the ropes—disappeared into the crowd of students awaiting the ringing of the bell—Nannette had no inkling of what she was to do. Suddenly there was the ringing of a bell—the school yard emptied quickly except for Nannette.

Those of you who know her understand that she has a mind of her own. The one thing she did know was the way home so off she went. It was close to three miles to granddaddy’s house and about half of that was state highway. She was already wet but the rain was slacking up and she would rather be at home anyway, so off she went. Evidently she, at that time, had no knowledge of “Charlie Boy” fishing in Taylor Creek where she had to travel.  “Charlie Boy” was kind and gentle but was sooooo big—scary to a child.

Mother was at home when Nannette arrived. With very few words mama got her dried and ready to return to school. I don’t even want to think about what she said to her husband. At any rate, that afternoon, under direct and explicit orders from his wife, Daddy entered his daughter in Mrs. Earl Byers first grade class.  

Many years later in 1951, as she began her teaching career, Nannette taught on the faculty of Lake Carrier School. The first grade teacher on that faculty was Mrs. Earl Byers, Nannette’s first grade teacher.  Mrs. Byers retired at the end of that year.

After Daddy carried her back that first day she spent 52 years in the school room. Today we try to honor those students by attending every class reunion in which we taught students. Saturday night we attended a Crowder class reunion (that’s where I joined Nannette in teaching) and this morning we heard about a Lake Carrier School reunion.    

Schools Are Opening

In just a few days there will be many of our youngsters starting that long trek through our schools—our enrollment in South Panola in first grade will be in excess of two hundred.  Parents don’t forget your child please.

One of the schemes used in the elementary grades has been to  have the teacher wear a cutout of an animal. I remember an occasion when I was walking in the elementary corridor and found a child in tears.  All she could get out clear enough for these old ears to understand was “I’m an elephant.”  Looking up I saw that Room 6 had an elephant hanging beneath the number.  I easily carried the child back to “Her Mamma for the day.” Incidentally, this will be the first year in many that there is not a Sissell in a classroom.

We had rain and our soybeans loved it.  So did we, although the “thunder boomer” that accompanied the rain was something too.

Our wish for you is a great week—we’re going to try to have a great one to match yours.  We’re looking forward to that Watermelon Carnival—I spent most of the day of the first Carnival at my Uncle Ray’s house across from the tennis courts behind the Hales, on Blount Street, where there was a great pot of Brunswick stew.

You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606, or 662-563-9879

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