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Dyer Street Elementary School

July 2, 2021

Dyer Street Elementary School is where I first went to school as a very young child. Although I lived in San Fernando, I made the daily mile walk to this school instead of Mission Elementary School in San Fernando. The reason was simple: We lived on the border of the two school districts and my parents wanted me to attend the newer school.

I remember the walk to school. Back then the area was still semi rural and we had to pass several large fields that were under cultivation for vegetables such as turnips. We lived on Orange Grove Avenue and we had to cross the major street of Hubbard to make our way on 5th Street to school. Back then 5th Street turned into Herrick when you crossed from San Fernando into neighboring Sylmar. The distance seemed so much greater then. When I returned to the school in 2006, it seemed only a stone’s throw from where I had lived. Time and age will do that.

There are many things I remember about this school. It had a vast expanse of asphalt that served as a playground. It was enormous by standards of the day. We played dodgeball and we were involved in all sorts of physical training as those were the days when we were competing with the Soviets in the area of physical fitness. I can still taste the smell of fresh rain on that asphalt.

Academically, the school was no different than any other elementary school. I do remember though that in almost all classes we were taught and encouraged to sing. It seems that most of the teachers were handy with a piano and that one was found in almost every classroom.

These were also the days of the dreaded drop drill. For those of you not old enough, let me explain. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s America felt it was under constant threat of a nuclear attack by Russia.  At random intervals, a drop dill monitor would burst into the classroom and scream, “Drop!” At that point it was mandatory to jump under your desk and bend down with your hands clasped over the back of your neck. I remember it as very serious, even a bit terrifying and yet I have not suffered delayed stress syndromes of any kind. I do remember being asked to be a drop drill monitor. I politely declined.

Perhaps the culmination of my experience at this school was being in the class of Mr. Samuels. He was a new fangled teacher who thought it was important for every American child to learn speed reading. The reasoning was again based in the fact that we were supposedly competing with Russia in all ways physical and academic. The result was that when I graduated elementary school, I could read over 3,800 words a minute with full comprehension. I remember being tested again in the 8th grade in junior high school, I raised my hand when I was done reading and the teacher basically called me a liar. He then administered the comprehension test verbally to me standing in front of the class. After I passed the test with 100%, he turned to the class and said, “My God, Mr. Rizzi reads faster than the president!”(JFK was known to read extremely fast at 3,500 words per minute.)

When I left Dyer Street Elementary School to go to Olive Vista Junior High School, I felt well prepared. I am still in touch with only  few of my classmates from back then but I do remember several by name. The following class photos were taken at Dyer Street Elementary School beginning in 1954 and ending in 1960. If you spot yourself or any of our friends in these photos, please let me know. I would be glad to hear from you.

1954 Kindergarten

1955 First Grade

1956 Second Grade

1957 Third Grade

1958 Fourth Grade

1959 Fifth Grade

1960 Sixth Grade

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From → America, Family, History

10 Comments
  1. Great post!
    I love those photos ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, Allen. Speed reading elementary school. 🙂

    And thinking back on those days of the constant threat of nuclear war brings into focus the situation the ruling class of nations puts the population in.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James Rogers permalink

    Allen.. I remember most of the Kids in the Picture of the 1960 Sixth Grade.. But your in it .. Did you Skip a Grade? But thanks for Posting that .. God I Wonder what ever Happened to John Sinclare ? not sure on the Spelling . The Guy was the best Artist Ever.. Could Draw the best Naked Ladies ever. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My parents would not allow me to skip a grade but I did start kindergarten earlier than most because of my birthday, which put me a half grade ahead. I graduated high school a bit young and then graduated college in three years instead of four. All of this led me to have students in my classes at San Fernando High who were my age or older. I lost track of John years ago. He used to live on Lazard.

      Like

  4. Great post! I absolutely love all the photos!!! 🙂 Days gone by, but, not days forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

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