Our school in the 30’s was very different from today’s classrooms. Each child had a desk attached to a chair. The top of the desk would lift up to a storage drawer in which we kept our own supplies such as books, pencils, paste, scissors, paint box, etc. On top there was a groove to hold our pencil or pen. In the top right hand corner was a round hole in which our inkwell was placed. Remember that in the ‘30’s and 40’s ball point pens had not been invented. So to learn to write with ink, we had a stick like a pencil with a small pointed piece of metal on one end. We dipped that point into the inkwell and then started writing. Fountain pens came into being in the ‘40’s. They had a similar point, but had a system to suck up a bit of ink into the pen so you could write longer than with the kind you had to dip. At Christmas 1952 I sent a present of a beautiful maroon colored fountain pen along with a picture of me to Jim. The pen was for his use in seminary. Ball point pens came out sometime in the early 1950s.
The black boards in our school were really black, not like the white boards that are so prevalent in today’s schools and churches. The board needed to be cleaned every day after school hours. It is interesting to note that some teachers used cleaning the black board as a punishment while others used it as reward. To clean the board the erasers needed to be de-chalked and this was usually accomplished by banging them together. We’d get a wet rag, I don’t think we had sponges back then, and clean the board. I did clean the black boards when I had teachers who used the job as a reward.
In school we never had to buy school supplies. At that time the state of California and the San Diego School system provided everything we needed. Sometimes we had new books and sometimes ones that had been used by former classes. All books were turned in at the end of the year for use the following year. In kindergarten we had big fat pencils with big lead but after that we used regular yellow pencils that are still around.
Next week I’ll talk about our new San Diego house in the forties.