Monday, April 23, 2007

Smelterville - kindergarten & tonsils

We moved to Smelterville before I entered Kindergarten. My parents rented a blue house on the main street, that still stands today. It was right behind a lumber office, and next to some apt buildings (or an old motel). The house had two front doors, one that went into the kitchen on the left, and one that accessed the living room on the right. We only used the one in the kitchen. It had two bedrooms, a bath, and it also had a small utility room. The kitchen and living room were much larger than the ones we had at the Robinson's house. Outside the yard was enclosed by a wooden fence, and attached to a carport. We lived there until May of 1963, and I don't think anyone has lived there since.

Although we lived in Smelterville, I went to kindergarden in Pinehurst where all my childhood friends attended. It was a private kindergarden run by Mrs. Swan. I thought she was wonderful. I was car pooled with two other Smelterville kids to kindergarten. One was LJ, a girl who lived behind us across the alley and MR a boy who lived across town. Kindergarten was so fun! I learned the alphabet and a lot of American tunes, such as the Star-Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, America, Dixie, and some songs that are no longer politically correct. I also learned to cut, paste and follow directions. One day I didn't hear the whistle to call us for exercise, and I got hit across the back of my hand with a pointing stick. It was the first and last time I received corporal punishment for misbehavin'.

During our exercise time we played fairies and brownies (my favorite game), London Bridge, and a lot of circle games where we had to hold hands - yuck! Our exercise time started with a trip to the restrooms, then we marched around in a large hall, and finished with games and maybe songs. Maybe I shouldn't mention it, but one boy forgot to go to the restroom before marching and had an accident. Mrs. Swan told him it was his own fault for not doing as he was told. I was mortified for him, and never lost a chance to hit the restrooms.

I met a lot of new kids in Kindergarten. One thing that sticks out in my mind was that it was the first time I realized that not all the kids were the same. We all had coloring books or sheets, and I remembered noticing one day that one kid (there could have been more) had a color book with two sets of pictures on each page. One was already colored and the other wasn't. He was coloring a fire engine, but he wasn't coloring it like the other picture. The colored picture showed the fire engine in a bright red. He was scribbling all over the uncolored engine in black or purple. (He wasn't even coloring inside the lines!) I think I may have mentioned it aloud and was told to mind my own business. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with that kid. Later I reasoned that the kind of book and the coloring technique may have had something to do with the fact the kid was a year behind me in school.

I missed a lot of kindergarten. I know one extended absence was due to getting my tonsils out. I wasn't worried about the surgery beforehand, because I was told I would get to eat all the ice cream, popscicles and jello I wanted. I wasn't afraid of staying away from home, so it didn't seem too big of a deal. I probably had to spend the night there (and my mom probably did also). I was surprised that they put me in a crib. It was a large metal crib they used for older kids.

When they wisked me into surgery the next morning, I wasn't afraid. . .until they gave me the ether. The doctor and nurses were dressed in their white, white clothes and everything in the room seemed white. They draped a white sheet over me and a nurse put something over my mouth and nose and told me just to count backwards from 10. I counted 10, 9, 8, 7. . .then I screamed, took a big breath, and was gone.

When I woke up, my throat hurt soooo badly I didn't want to eat anything. I tried to suck on popscicles, but it hurt. I tried jello, but it hurt. I tried ice cream, and it tasted terrible. I was soooo mad! I could have all I wanted, but it hurt too much to eat anything. What kind of a deal was that anyway? Well, at least I'd get to go home after staying the night. So, I stayed the night, and I remember waking up to see my mom sleeping in the chair. (They didn't have soft chairs in hospitals then. The chairs were cheap aluminum or stainless steel ones. There may have had a cushion, but it probably wasn't too comfortable.) I was surprised she was there, but now I understand why.

The next day I was ready to go home. I didn't care about my sore throat, the popscicles and the jello. I just wanted to go home where everything was normal. The girl in the bed next to me gathered her stuff and left the hospital, but I was still there. Then I found out I had to stay another night. What? That's not fair! I was told I'd get to go home, but no one told me why I had to stay. But I found out.

Later in the evening, the white clad doctor and an all white nurse or two came in to my room with a tray. On the tray was a large pair of tongs and a bunch of cotton balls. (Now if you're squeamish - skip this next part.) I was wondering what they were going to do, when the doctor picked up a cotton ball with his tongs and said, "Open up". I opened up my mouth and he stuck that cotton ball so far back into my mouth, I gagged. Then he pulled it out, and it was bright red! He did the same thing a few more times, then he and his white entourage left the room. What was that all about? I wondered. I thought it was the weirdest thing. At least I got to go home the next day.

Years later, I found out the reason why I couldn't go home after the first night, was they couldn't stop the bleeding. I still don't know what the cotton ball exercise was all about, unless they cleaned my throat and put some kind of medicine in there to help stop the bleeding. All I know is that it took a long time before ice cream tasted good to me again.

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