Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

First Day of School by Enes Berg Stringam

Standing: Bern, Eldor, Glen
Sitting: Mom

On Mom's first day of school, she spoke almost no English, only Swedish . . .

My first day of school was anticipated with the fear and anxiety which had been passed down to me from my brothers who went before me.
I recall horror stories with exaggeration about strappings, sitting on a stool at the front of the room for being late, and beatings from older boys.
Beware of the 'older boys'.
As the time came for me to make my debut, my legs became so numb that I could hardly walk.
I was so afraid.
Winnie Charleton (two years older) kindly took me by the hand and led me into the one-room schoolhouse.
Mrs. Hunter smiled as she pointed to the desk at the front of the room where I would work.
Four other girls sat behind me in the same row.
"Good Morning, boys and girls!" said Mrs. Hunter.
"Good Morning!" responded the class.
All except me.
Mrs. Hunter looked at me with a lop-sided smile.
"Can't you say, Good Morning?" she asked.
"Yah," said I, then quickly, the line I had rehearsed with Mama, "Min nom Enes. I am half past six."
Little titters rippled around the room.
"Would you say that again, please?" asked Mrs. Hunter.
Luckily, I understood.
"Min nom Enes, I am half past six."
The giggles turned into a roar as the thirty or so children rocked with laughter.
I was so humiliated that I laid my head on the desk and covered it with my arms.
What would my punishment be for this, I wondered?
Mrs. Hunter simply said, "Enes - that's a nice name."
Then she turned to the blackboard and wrote her name.
I worried all day about the punishment I would receive, but nothing happened.
We were given our first primer and we tried to copy the words DOG and CAT. We copied numbers, 1 to 10, and played 'I Spy'.
My fears finally dwindled.
School was actually fun!

3 comments:

  1. I love that photo! :) Your mom was a brave little girl.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's hard enough being in school, but having to learn English...I don't know how people make it through!

    ReplyDelete

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