Mrs. Ross' third grade class, Startex Elementary School, circa 1963 - 64. Her favorite word/phrase was fortylebun (forty eleven) as in "I've told y'all fortylebun times to be quite." I made the mistake one time of asking her if that meant fifty one times. It was a mistake because one of the bad things about living in a small town is that your mama was friends with all of your teachers. Third grade was, back in those days, the year that you learned the times tables and the gazentas (you know, 6 gazenta 24, 4 times). Today, kids learn math much sooner. Jessi was telling us just the other day that Noah, a first grade student, had a math problem that said ____+____=38. People, that's algebra. Any way you look at it. In my algebra I class in 9th grade it would have read X+Y=38. Anyway, third grade was also when you learned deducted reasoning, as in word problems, cursive writing and a host of other things. All in all, third grade was a pretty jam packed year. Back then, I was a pretty good student with decent grades. As I said, mama was friends with all of the teachers so I did what I had to do to survive.
There was a classmate of mine and for the life of me I can't seem to remember his last name but his first name was Robert. He wasn't from the "mill hill" and I think it was his first year at Startex Elementary. He was a big ole boy, bigger than the rest of us anyway. He might have even been older and failed a grade, I don't know. One day he needed a pencil and I had a couple of extras in my plastic zippered pouch in my three ring binder. Being a good student and learner of the reasoning stuff, and being the entrepreneur that I was, I asked what he had to trade. He went into his pencil box, which was an old Tampa Nugget cigar box (he didn't have a zippered pouch), and came out with this cool looking medal. It had this colorful ribbon with a pin on the back and a heart shaped medal hanging from the ribbon. The medal was purple in color and had a gold head on it that looked like George Washington that was on the dollar bill which to me meant that it must have been worth a dollar at least. Man, I had hit the jackpot. This thing was worth three pencils, 2 cat eye marbles and a paperclip and it only cost me one pencil.
The mistake I made was bragging about my good trade when I got home. When mama saw my medal she went ballistic. Seems that my prize turned out to be something called a "Purple Heart", duh, what else would it be called given the description I just gave you. Anyway, she put me, and my medal, in the car and off to see Mrs. Ross we went. After she explained the situation to her we headed to the office to see Mr. Tucker, the principal. Boy, my good trade was turning into a fiasco. After a bunch of phone calls it was discovered that the medal belonged to Robert's grandfather who had been awarded the medal for being wounded in WWII. I was 8 years old, how was I supposed to know what a Purple Heart was? I wound up giving the medal back to the grandfather and I didn't even get my pencil back. I guess I still came out better than Robert, though. I still had my cat eye marbles and paperclip and he had to make a trip out to the woodshed.
Moral of the story is that when you make a good trade keep it to yourself or lose a pencil.
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