When I was a young kid, it was so long ago that nobody had air conditioning. We lived in Pennsylvania and frankly it did not get hot like it does here in Florida. Despite that, we considered that the summers were very hot. Thus, when air conditioning did start to show up, we would head for that store just to get relief. I recall the first one that I went into was a G. C. Murphy’s 5 & 10 Cent Store. A store like Murphy’s was a great place to wander through as they actually had good things you could buy for a nickel or a dime – in fact even for a penny. You could get a balsa wood plane that you stuck some wings and a tail on, then threw it and it would soar for a good while. There were “Big, Little Books” which were condensed versions of famous or adventure books – usually with illustrations. Some of them are now worth a fortune, but who suspected back then. There were Classic Illustrated comic books. You could read the “Iliad” in comic book form and perhaps con your teacher that you had actually read the real thing.
The latter didn’t usually work as the teachers were pretty learned. They had to be especially where I grew up. I went mostly to schools were there were two grades in one room. The teacher would teach for example a class to third graders on one side of the room, and then switch to the other side of the room and teach fourth graders. They taught all the subjects from math to geography to English and so forth. We did have recesses and lunch hour which gave then some respite, but I don’t know how they did it. The schools usually did have a music teacher who would come and teach us how music notes worked or even have us sing in harmony (usually poor). That teacher had all the grades one through eight. Still, we seemed to learn and life moved along.
You didn’t mess with teachers back then. You could argue over a subject which I did quite frequently. That didn’t always go over too well, and some considered me a pain in the neck – which I may well have been. I made a mistake one time when I asked a teacher how to spell a word. She told me to look it up in the dictionary. I never did understand how you were to look it up when you didn’t know how to spell something to start with. Now as an illustration how punishment worked back then: I for no reason that I knew then or even now, I replied to the directive by saying, “OK, Kid”. I was unaware of it but the school coach was in the room (he was our only coach for all sports, and the teacher was young and pretty). Man, was he mad at me! He immediately sent me to the Principal’s office where I had to stay for an hour after school for three weeks. I might still be there, but I finally asked the coach if I could be freed. He reluctantly agreed. I wonder what punishment they would give a kid like me today for being so uncouth?
Well, just about all stores have air conditioning now. I guess that the replacements for the 5 & 10 Cent Store is now the Dollar Store. It’s just too bad they don’t have some “Big, Little Books” or Classic Comics. If they did, I would keep them this time – or at least give them to grandkids or great grandkids if we ever have any of the latter. I’ve told the grandkids they need to get moving so we can see a great grandchild. Unfortunately, kids never listen to anything the older generation says! Sigh!
Barry Evans writes about Life in The Villages for Villages-News.com.