If it’s August, then it’s only a matter of days until Del Rio’s youth return to school.
I attended several schools growing up because my dad worked for H-E-B and I spent my first school years away from Del Rio.
Kindergarten and first grade were spent in Pearsall where apparently, and this is according to my mother, the teachers there didn’t think I belonged in first grade because of my age and because I didn’t know how to read.
It wasn’t until they set a book down in front of me and away I went that they were convinced and I was allowed to move into first grade.
We moved back to Del Rio and I finished up first grade and second grade at The Little Schoolhouse when it was located off North Main Street.
I still remember Mrs. Nelson and Mrs. Young exposing me to a variety of things that would come to become some of my favorite parts of school including writing and computer time.
Third grade and away I went to Garfield Elementary because it was closer to my grandmother’s home.
Once school was out, I walked there and waited for my mom or dad to come pick me up after work. Grandma Concha didn’t speak English, so while she let me watch what I wanted to on her TV somedays, other times I had to make do with whatever programming was on the Spanish languages. Sesame Street in Spanish was a bit of a trip, especially when the Muppets were a little different looking, but I learned a different language and was allowed to eat as many oatmeal cookies as I could stomach.
Fourth and fifth grade saw my parents feel I was old enough to walk to school on my own, so I attended North Heights Elementary which was closer to our family home on Avenue A. Fourth grade it was Mr. Dominguez in an upstairs classroom, and oh so close to that fire escape slide that we weren’t allowed on. Fifth grade was Mrs. Ortega in the portable classrooms closer to the playground.
Once elementary school ended and secondary school began it was all a blur of classrooms, teachers, odd smells wafting in from the cafeteria and the awkwardness of standing around and waiting. We waited for the first bell, the lunch bell, the tardy bell, the dismissal bell – so much waiting.
The point of all is this is that school was fun. I knew exactly where my friends would be, I knew where I had to go and I knew what I was going to do each day.
After school all bets were off, and in high school that often meant hanging out in the AFJROTC classroom or zooming out to Lake Amistad for some fun in the water.
I look back on those days with great fondness. Were they perfect days?
Probably not, but school was what you made of it.
I made a lot of good friends, wound up graduating on time and really just enjoyed the last real days of freedom before working got in the way.
To all of you all headed back to school, just enjoy the ride.
Do your work and remember that there are adults, just like me, who would be happy to switch places with you if for nothing else but a slice of that awesome square pizza with the little cube pepperonis. Still the best lunchroom meal from my youth.