Thursday, June 11, 2009

End of Alameda

I began Grade 7 in Lincoln School, but not for very long.  One thing that I remember caught my interest, diagramming sentences the old fashioned way (as I learned later it was) on the black board.  I loved doing this.  Stripping sentences down to essential subjects and predicates and hanging everything else where it belonged.  Almost at once I realized, not that I could have said so as simply as I can now, that we were analyzing thought.  I wish I could claim to have understood the practice of finding square roots so well.  But I did love pre-geometry, finding areas and volumes.
I was soon to live in another world.  Instead of a neighborhood of houses build before World War I in one of the most serene and (literally as well as figuratively) pedestrian bedroom communities I would be in a tract at the edge of building in a western sort of Levittown (just google it) but built in 1946.  Instead of going around the corner to school, I had to wait in a shed for the school bus.  And so forth.  And Roosevelt Junior High School in Richmond was mostly Temporary Buildings.  And, though there was Macdonald Street, it wasn't really "downtown".
In Alameda, at the end of our block, was a very nice elderly lady who would play "The Lost Doll" on her piano and sing it for me (later I was astonished and overjoyed to find it on a CD sung by Emma Eames).  There was a Carnegie library.  In Richmond, or rather San Pablo, there was a one room sort of library and no one who played and sang old songs for little girls who liked them.  I don't remember a shock, exactly.  I was too busy trying to figure things out.  Instead of a K-8 school, I was in a Junior High School, which meant only that one went from one temporary to another (they weren't quonsets, but they were army surplus units) instead of belonging to one class and having one's own desk in one room.  Every time I hear some wise guy grouse about putting children is great prison-like buildings, I think how much worse something like Roosevlet Junior High School is.