Question #10 in our reading workbooks always began with "What do you think..." and I would occasionally be marked wrong! (For what I thought!) I campaigned against the injustice, going so far as to fashion and wear a billboard on the playground. Say no to #10! Viva la resistance! Mr. Pepper and I finally struck a bargain and I only had to answer every other #10. I still think those questions should be re-worded.
I chose Hawaii for my state report because I felt I was an expert based on our annual family vacations to Maui. Surprisingly, it entailed more work than just writing down what I already knew about the place. I got frustrated one day and wadded up my work-thus-far and threw it in the garbage. Mr. Pepper had me retrieve it, rework it and showed me how I could paste the rumpled paper onto a report page, as to salvage the piece. He gamely noted "nice texture!" in red ink when he returned it to me with final comments.
I met a girl named Dana who lived up the street. I went for a sleepover one night and her parents were gone much of the evening. We played with ingredients in the kitchen and would up wilting lettuce in a frying pan. The texture was intriguing and we thought it would be fun to bag it and sell it as "pot" at school. The next week, Jake said he'd buy some, but made faces and exclaimed "Ewww!" when we handed him the damp baggie. Looking back, I'm appalled at this game and that - despite all PSA's that drugs were bad - I thought it a good idea to sell pot.
Another classmate brought a gigantic bottle of vitamin c drops to school one day and sold them a tablet at a time. Sweet, exotic treats that they were, she made quick sales. Jeremy reported that they gave his dad the runs. Mr. Pepper decided to stop the sales of pharmaceuticals in school.
I ran for class president against Worth. My mom told me that she ran for class office when she was in college and worked with a friend to hand out flagged gumdrops across campus. I wrote clever sayings on tiny flags, glued them to toothpicks and stuck them in gumdrops. I tried to hand them out during freetime, but Worth said it wasn't fair. Mr. Pepper backed him up that it wasn't a reasonable campaign practice to bribe voters in the 5th grade. I cried and asked to call my mom, who - not seeing what the big deal was to any of us - told me simply to abandon the practice. I was crushed, even though we got to enjoy the candies after the election. My Print Shop printouts from my Apple II+'s dot-matrix printer paled in comparison. Worth won the election.
Our gold rush unit culminated in an overnight trip to Skagway via ferry (Southeast Alaska's topography doesn't allow for roads) where we saw Soapy Smith's grave, gambled fake money in a saloon, watched a musical revue, slept in the basement of a church and hunted for "gold" rocks. We fund raised for this trip by holding a family spaghetti feed in the school gym. One would assume there must have been other means that contributed to this field trip, but they eyes of a child only see things as magical happenings.
I developed a crush on Jaylin, a plainish new boy in school. It was less of a hearthrob so much as a curiosity about behaviors I saw in Bop! and Bananas. I'm sure he was clueless about how to respond to my friendly "advances," but gladly accepted monetary loans when I offered them. I think I ended 5th grade owed $2.
I didn't care for a particular girl because she was smelly and mean. My parents thought I was discriminating against her because she was poor, and thus smelly. I finally had to rat on her to get my mom off my back about spending time with her: I told them about how she wrote the f-word on the chalkboard after school one day.
Several times a year the school counselor would visit and let us know that we could come see him about any problem at any time. I thought this attention might be kind of neat, so I wrote a note to him about how I had a relative who annually binge-drank and another relative would have to fly to Seattle to find him and bring him back. I was disappointed that the counselor never called me in for an appointment. I tried again by writing about my parents yelling at each other during a disagreement they had one evening. This time, the counselor came to me during class and invited me to talk about it. The occurrence I'd described in my note actually wasn't that big of a deal and now I found that the counselor's appointment really wasn't as cool as I'd hoped. After some dull, "How did the argument make you feel?" and "It doesn't mean they don't love you," counseling, I was eager not to return to the office.
My "growing pains" were increasing and I sometimes had cold numbness in my pinky fingers during piano practice. After a series of doctor appointments in Juneau and at Children's Hospital in Seattle, the experts diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis, which was to be treated with 3 aspirin and 1 Tums three times daily. In short time I began gagging nearly as soon as I saw the bottle of Bayer. The Tums made it even worse, since those had to be chewed. I hid or disposed of the pills as often as feasible and tearfully swallowed the chalky remedy when forced.
The second part of my prescription was that I was to limit physical activity, particularly in school PE. My doctor's note was met with distrust and criticism by the awful Mr. Bonk, who was the worst excuse for an elementary school PE teacher to begin with. For a short time he let me sit out the activities prohibited by my note. Soon, however, he took me aside and told me that he had talked with his doctor who said I could jolly well do a certain number of similar activities. This brought him the wrath of my mother who called his office, Mr. Pepper and our school principal. The following week I came to class, asked him what I should do that day, and he told me he wasn't going to talk to me because my mother was trying to get him fired. Classy.
Even better, his wife served as a substitute some weeks later. By that time my family and the school had come to the agreement that I would just walk laps for the duration of PE. At the end of class she let me know that Middle School wouldn't allow me to walk laps, and that I'd lose credits (whatever those were) if I didn't do the activities with the rest of the class. Geez.
Finally, a radiation appointment in Seattle suggested hypothyroidism. By the end of the year, I was beginning to resume PE exercises with my class and taking a once-daily synthroid pill instead of the abundance of pain relievers and antacids.
Names I remember: Dana, Jeremy, Jaylin, Rory (during legislative season), J.J., Worth, Hiram, Kelly, Joy, Jessy, Sarah, Jean, John, Julie, Judson, Sherwin and Mark. Mr. Pepper, Mr. Bonk, Mr. Deitrich, Mrs. Harris and Mr. Walker.