Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Aftermath

Well, it was fun for me . . .
My friend, Cathy's dad had a wonderful job.
Magical.
He got to sneak into the schools after everyone had left.
Wander at will through the empty hallways and classrooms.
And clean.
Oh, man, it was the coolest!
And sometimes, wonder of wonders, he let Cathy and I and some of his other kids (12 in all ) . . . help.
There were times when we got to race the huge, soft dry-mops up and down the hallways.
And I do mean race.
Empty the garbage cans.
Snoop.
Did you know that the teacher's lounge of the sixties smelled like cigarette smoke?
Just FYI.
Moving on . . .
And, best of all, he let us clean the brushes.
In the sixties, whiteboards were black.
And pieces of chalk were used instead of today's dry-erase felts.
These pieces of chalk marked the blackboards very effectively.
There were only a couple of drawbacks.
They had the ability to squeak against the board at decibels that could shatter glass.
And they left a lot of chalk dust.
A lot.
Especially when someone tried to clean said chalk from said blackboard.
The thick, black-felt erasers used to accomplish this quickly became saturated with the fine, white dust.
Then they had to be cleaned.
Now a normal person would simply take the vacuum to them.
Or use the handy-dandy 'chalkboard spinner' in the basement.
A normal person.
Cathy and I were ten.
I should point out here that there is nothing normal about a 10-year-old.
Back to my story . . .
Cathy and I would collect the brushes.
Cart them outside.
And bang them together.
Imagine, if you will, a cloud of fine, white dust.
With two little girls somewhere near the center of it.
Giggling.
You get it, right?!
What on earth could be more fun?
The fact that the dust merely got relocated and that the two little girls then had to, themselves, be cleaned, never even entered our minds.
For a brief, wonderful while, we were the center of our very own little dust storm.
I can still remember how it smelled.
And, as it collected on our tongues, just how it tasted.
Magic.

There is an unexpected codicil: Fifteen years later, I was expecting my third child. Another boy.
I craved something. In fact, I could almost taste it. It took forever to figure out what that taste was.
Then it hit me.
Chalk.
I was craving chalk.
And not the light, cheap stuff that had become common.
No.
I was craving the good stuff.
The stuff that Cathy and I used to clean out of those brushes and catch in our mouths all those years ago.
The doctor told me I was lacking in minerals and gave me some pills to swallow.
Sigh.
I wish he would have simply given me some brushes to clean . . .

6 comments:

  1. What a fun story. I can imagine how much chalk you might have inhaled when you were out cleaning them. I can't imaging craving the taste, though. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have to ask. Did the pills taste as good as your memories of chalk? And suspect the answer was an emphatic no.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the "olden days" we were appointed as "monitors" to clean "blackboard" brushes. I'm sure there could be many stories similar to yours on this topic. I admit that in gr 10 I dropped some brushes from the second story so that I wouldn't have to clean them. The next day the number of brushes were the same. So I guess my teacher found and rescued the brushes. Your post brings back good memories.

    ReplyDelete
  4. How interesting about the craving while pregnant. It's good you could identify it for the doctor.

    Lol at the label :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love it Diane! I was right there with you. Great writing :) Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I was in school, the only way to clean those "dusters" was to bang the chalk dust out of them, just as you and Cathy did. I've never heard of a chalkboard spinner and can't imagine how it would work.

    ReplyDelete

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