Monday, August 27, 2007

School Carpool

The start of a new academic year has me thinking about my school days.

In my neighborhood, there were over a dozen of us within five years of age of each other - and that was only because J Jump Joyful's brother was two years older than she was. When JJJ, Tam, DeeCoo, and Coop and I were in first grade, Dudley Stone Elementary was being earthquake-proofed so we had to take a bus to another school across town. I didn't realize this at the time but the school had all these kids on a split schedule and we were on the early shift... which explains why we waited for the school bus in the dark. One of the moms would walk with us the three blocks, carrying a flashlight so the driver would see us. Most of the time the bus didn't come, and we would pile into Tam's mom's green Pinto station wagon to get to school by 7am.

When I was in second and third grade at Dudley Stone (now named after the man who was principal when I was there), a group of us from the neighborhood walked there together. The school only went to third grade when I attended there so I think the group consisted of myself, J Jump Joyful, DeeCoo, Coop, Tam, DeeKay, No, and Ria (who were old enough to go to school by then). We were not allowed to walk the more direct route because of the speed of the traffic and the steepness of the hill. I remember walking along and talking about how to respond if someone pulled a car over and asked for directions or offered candy.

Of course, no one ever did. We never saw any other people on that route.

When I started going to school at CSH in fourth grade and somehow DeeKay's mom got DeeKay and me into a carpool with another girl who lived nearby who was in the same class DeeKay was. The carpool consisted of me, DeeKay, this other girl and two sisters she knew and their cousin, who attended the boys' school next door. When Shmeen came to CSH she joined our carpool too, and one of my strongest memories of Shmeen as a kid is her laughing and laughing at my jokes every afternoon in the car.

The parents of the girl who lived a couple blocks from DeeKay, our entree into carpooling, had two notable cars. Usually her mother drove us to school in her Mustang, which was a tight fit. Occasionally her dad would drive us in his VW Bug. The youngest of us, who was in kindergarten when I was in the same fourth grade class as her sister, rode in the back "cargo area." The two next smallest sat in the front and the rest of us sat on each other in backseat.

It was the 1970s, before seat belts - which that car probably didn't have anyway.

When I was in seventh grade the carpooling ended. It was decided that we were old enough to take Muni buses to school, so we stopped having to cram into cars that weren't designed to hold eight kids and a driver.

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