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June 1, 1907

Dear Ann,
Today, if you were out walking around 8 a.m., you might have done a double take when you saw a newsboy in knickerbockers, or a girl with an improbably large bow on her head. It was Long Ago School Day for the second grade at our school, whose first pupils–long ago–were the children of pushcart peddlers and garment workers. As Joseph’s teacher put it, Long Ago School Day is not a costume party; it’s an attitude. Things were different in 1907. Last night, showers were not allowed. Just a wash in the kitchen sink.
1907joseph.jpg
In 1907, Joseph wore a clean, tucked-in shirt, suspenders and hair tonic. (Sadly, in 2007 we have to make do with gel.)
1907pinafore.jpg
Girls wore pinafores to keep their dresses clean.
1907teacherman.jpg
You called your teacher Mister.
1907desk.jpg
Your desk faced front. You had a slate. (Your classroom did not have plastic bins, but whatever.)
1907teacher.jpg
“Harry, why are you late this morning?”
[Silence. Grinning silence.]
“Were you selling vegetables?”
[Silence.]
“Were you collecting eggs?”
[Silence. Eyeing ruler.]
“Did you wash? Let me see behind your ears!”
[Giggles.]
josephhairgel.jpg
In real 1907, it probably wasn’t this fun.
Sorry, no knitting. I’m too farklempt with the end-of-year bittersweetness around here. On Monday I have to face The Singing of the School Song. It nearly kills me, every time.
Love,
Kay

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Too Cute! What a great way to learn! How Fun!

  2. Wow, what a great idea! Thank goodness they didn’t put 1970 in that “Long Ago” category.

  3. Thank you! I love me some Joseph!!

  4. What a fun day at school . . . I wish my teachers had done that kind of thing! (Although, I DID call my teachers “Mister,” unless, of course, they were “Miss” or “Mrs.”)

  5. Cara, get in line!

  6. Ok, since I am blogless I must share my latest maternal farklempten moment:
    In December, my eldest (a strapping son) graduated from, shall we say, a large midwestern Big Ten-type university. At the end of the ceremony, the President announced that the ceremonies were over “and now, let’s sing varsity.” Whereupon all these strapping, gorgeous, smart young men and women, who were in the second grade about two weeks ago, drape their arms around each other, and sway, and sing softly but oh so clearly the words to a song I haven’t heard before or since. It was so unexpected, and so sweet, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it. Thanks, Kay, for helping me remember that, and happy school year’s end to you all.

  7. Way too cute. I too remember calling all of my teachers Mister, Miss or Mrs. Must be a sign of age…..

  8. I’m intrigued, what do you normally call your teachers in 2007? And does your school year really end on Monday? We have another 6 weeks to go in the UK.

  9. Wait a minute! We used slates in my school days — and ink wells too. That was Paris in the 60′s. And yet it can’t have been that Long Ago as my glamorous teacher wore a miniskirt to school.
    No comment on the status of our daily hygiene back then…

  10. VERY cute.

  11. I don’t know about you, but that Mister Teacher sure does look mighty young to me. Does that mean I’m getting old? No, wait, don’t answer that.

  12. My kids still call their teacher’s Mr, Ms, Mrs. They’ve been out of school since the middle of May and started summer school this week!! But, it is fun type classes. In my youngest son’s case, “Sports, Crafts and More” Basically, like all day PE with some arts and crafts thrown in. It keeps him away from that darn TV…something they didn’t have to worry about in 1907!

  13. That’s fabulous! We might (heavily on the might) be moving to NYC and it’s good to see that there are schools that do such neat things! Here in Phoenix we do “water day”. Sprinklers, swimsuits, fun.
    Happy summer!

  14. Thank you for sharing–I hadn’t seen such a thing before!
    But don’t remind me of my tears soon to come for my own offspring….

  15. What a lovely photoessay…something I needed to read, after having to collect my high school sophomore from school early today. She drew a two-day suspension for being too much of a wiseapple. Since it came at the end of the school year, you know she really pushed the envelope! Anyway, how refreshing to see a kid excited about school. I have to remind myself it wasn’t that long ago I had a third-grader for whom I sewed a Laura Ingalls-style dress, bonnet and muslin pinafore, and she was the envy of her class on Pioneer Day…*sigh*

  16. My kids call their teachers Mister, Mrs., or Miss. We have another 4 weeks of school in Ontario, Canada. I tear up whenever the school choir sings. Glad I’m not the only one!

  17. Thankfully, we don’t do school songs here. Or at least we didn’t at the sort of school I went to! (Neil says they did, but he went to a Posh School so they probably did Latin as well and skipped about like a gurly and Fotherington Thomas, chiz, as Molesworth would sa).
    And, in my never-ending quest to teach you English phrases and slang, Joseph is wearing ‘braces’, as ‘suspenders’ are a far more female, under-garmenty prospect altogether. Unless they’re Sock Suspenders, but I think they went out with some Tory Government in the 1950s. Love the pics.
    I might need to introduce Joseph to Molesworth….

  18. kids here in quebec use their teachers’ first names, and the informal ‘tu’ pronoun at that. i feel like a grumpy old fart when i try to explain the propoer use of ‘vous…’ joseph looks sweet!!!

  19. We had our last day of school on Thursday. Normally I go out to bid all the students good bye. All the teachers gather at the car pool lines and wave to cars, vans, and suv’s full of students hanging out every available window, sun roof, etc. The honking of the horns is enough to deafen anybody. This year I was too busy trying to produce report cards for every single one of those students and I finished that at 6:00 last night. Whew!

  20. Ah, yes…the Closing Assembly trail of tears. Me, I had to watch #2 DS traipse off to the Senior Prom. In a tuxedo. He rocked it. That sobbing and wailing you hear coming from the Bronx next Thursday? That’ll be me at graduation. I plan to bring a warshrag to mop my tears.

  21. This year’s graduating class is the 100th class to graduate from my high school (my brother is graduating). I don’t think high schoolers would go for a theme day that isn’t goofy.
    The school has filled display cabinets with pictures, sweaters, rings, report cards, and other artifacts from all the other classes and it has been really interesting. There is a lot of town history tied up in the school.

  22. What fun! We had a historical-type day in 5th grade, where we made candles and stuff, but we didn’t get to dress up!

  23. 1907 Day is sweet. When I went to school (1970s) we had 50s week. My girls had 70s week, and “isnt it great the Mom (me) had all these vintage clothes?” was what they said.
    Two of those girls graduated from in the past two weeks, one from college (magnu cum laude) and one from high school. Thanks heavens I can say allergies when someone asks me why my eyes are so red.

  24. I’m with you. I get teary eyed every single year no matter what grade level. I can hardly stand parting from the great teachers who have made my daughters’ futures a brighter place.
    LOVE the suspenders.

  25. Please tell me that poor teacher didn’t have to wear a corset.

  26. Loved the “long ago day”…but shouldn’t that boy be getting the ruler applied to his behind for wearing his HAT INDOORS?
    My kids like doing 18th C, because that particular social nicety hadn’t been invented yet!
    BTW, fitted correctly corsets, even the horrible Civil War era ones, weren’t as uncomfortable as you might think, except for the REALLY fashion conscious adolescents. Normal people didn’t wear the extreme wasp waist ones. And the early period stays (corsets, name changed) were downright comfortable…I wear them routinely in my 18th C American Revolutionary War reproduction clothing…but I made mine, custom fitted to me. Makes a difference!

  27. Joseph looks wonderful! Cute, cute, cute! Dress him like that every day, Kay!

  28. Aw, they all look so adorable! The end of year really is bittersweet. So much to look forward to, but yet another sign that they’re growing up so very quickly.

  29. It was a privilege hearing you today at BookExpo America. I’ve written up the panel on my blog.
    Liza’s Fibers http://lizasfibers.blogspot.com/
    Thank you for enriching knitting,
    Liza NYC

  30. What a neat idea!