But back to Shirley Ruth and me seated front, right in the classroom, where Miss Cheda could keep an eye on us. When we weren't reading aloud, or learning longhand script, or taking down a new list of spelling words or learning some new wrinkle in arithmetic, we were given activities, such as purple-ditto work sheets (not run on a machine but off a tray of gelatin onto newsprint paper), or pages to complete in our workbooks, or practicing writing, or, sometimes, working on phonics with one of the other groups. Phonic families, such as will, mill, till, sill, bill. Back at our seats, if we ran out of 'work' we might try making new phonic families of our own. Or drawing pictures in our work books, or deliberately coloring Jane green, but leaving her clothes uncolored and only greening her skin (when the workbook said, Color Jane green). Once, and I really don't know why, we drew boys that had genitals. Well, I had a brother by this time, and the drawing certainly showed nothing more dramatic. Miss Cheda called in our mothers and gave them those drawings; she may have wanted to warn against the possibility of our "playing doctor" with other children. Miss Cheda had her hands full, but managed admirably teaching a group of about 24, ranging from children just beginning to Shirley and me and Rosemarie and the Dart child (I think he mother called her Missy). Apart from drawing the wrong things in the workbook that once, we never did anything worse than whisper to each other, and the content was never memorable: Can you come over tomorrow? The tooth fairy gave me a nickel. Did you see The Wizard of Oz?—I did. If she saw us too bored, Miss Cheda sent us to the Library Corner of the room. In this way I read all the California State Series of readers and social studies and science books.
A couple of years ago watching and enjoying all the Annenberg programs on elementary-grades teaching on PBS, I had to think that Miss Cheda had done everything right.