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Kindergarten

March 6, 2015

Kindergarten – from the German word meaning literally “children’s garden,” is a preschool approach to education traditionally based around playing, singing, practical activities such as drawing, and social interaction. The first such institutions were created in the late eighteenth century in Bavaria to serve children both of whose parents worked outside of the home. This was especially common in farming communities.

Most of us in the United States have been to Kindergarten to initiate our elementary school journey. It is the one place that most of us have in common as an experience and is the very foundation of our education and socialization. But how many of you have been in contact with your Kindergarten alumni?

I asked myself the same question several years ago and embarked on a long trip down memory lane to find the people I went to school with when I was just a small child. Fortunately, I had a vintage class photo of my Kindergarten class from 1954 to help me. Mrs. Rodriguez’s class had only twenty of us little cherubs so I started doing a little digging. After a few months I had located 11 of the 19 of my other classmates. Why all the effort? No particular reason, just that I felt it was important to locate a few of these folks and see how we all turned out.

On further examination, I found that of my meager class of twenty, three have passed away and the rest of us are out there running around somewhere in the world. I have contacted most of them but some have eluded my grasp. One in particular dropped out many years ago. His cousin told me he just doesn’t want to interact with anyone from his past. Hey, that’s fine. The others were happy to hear from me as we exchanged notes on our work histories, spouses and lives. While we didn’t know it at the time, we all were bound to be diverse, accomplished and interesting people. Sadly, I was not able to find what became of our teacher Mrs. Rodriguez, who would be about ninety today. As she was the one who set the educational foundation for most of us, I especially wanted to locate her. Thank you Mrs. Rodriguez, wherever you are.

Of my Kindergarten class, I have only a few vague memories. I remember getting in trouble because I spilled soap on a little girl’s dress over 60 years ago. Sandy was her name. I also recall we learned a horrible song about a mockingbird singing “Los Angeles, Los Angeles” all night long. I was an unwilling participant in rest time, as I was a bit hyperactive. I can recall lots of tempera paint, a long row of windows with blinds and a beautiful piano. Lastly, I recall that Mrs. Rodriguez played that piano very well and usually wore colorful petticoats. The rest is a blur of tetherball and hot Southern California playground asphalt. It’s funny how our minds work….

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you get in touch with your past. Kindergarten is a great place to start. You would be surprised that knowing what became of your past has so much to say in guiding your future.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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One Comment
  1. Joan permalink

    I recently recommended the book “I Really Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten” to one of my adult children when she asked me to list some of the novels that had made impressions on me. It is true that so many life lessons were learned in that classroom. I have many memories of that year, including finger painting at an easel with my plastic apron that had a heart design on it. I too could never fall asleep at rest time and had my first crushes on the little boys. I remember the playground games of Duck Duck Goose, Look Who is Here Punchinella Funny Fellow, and The Farmer in the Dell. I have lost touch with my old classmates from Waverly School #51 in Baltimore, MD, but my older sister, who still lives near the old neighborhood, still has monthly lunches with five or six of the little girls who were her friends way back then. I have a few people I still correspond with whom I attended Jr. High and High School. I do agree that touching our past and those people with shared memories can help us define our place in the world, past and future. Thanks Allen, for reminding us all!

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