On The Street Where I Lived: School Days

Part Three in a Continuing Series

Part One & Part Two


The school I attended from Fourth through Sixth Grade segregated the kids into three classes: High Aptitude, Medium Aptitude, Low Aptitude. Of course my buddies and I had our own names for these three ‘Classes’: “Smart Kids” (us), “Dumb Kids”, and “Really Dumb Kids.” There was absolutely no socialization between the three classes. None. Ever. I cannot imagine California (or any other state school board) using this practice now.

Once initially ‘placed’ into your category, there was virtually no way to make a move (in either direction). But during the second half of my Fifth Grade year, I took a real running stab at getting ‘demoted’ from ‘Smart’ to ‘Dumb’ Classification. I have always been easily distracted. One day during Mathematics Class, the teacher showed us a trick I found fascinating. He taught us we could make a curved line out of a bunch of straight lines. This was a revelation to me.

Curved Lines

For the next several weeks, I spent all my time in classrooms experimenting with this new found ‘miracle’. I created countless drawings, some very colorful, some just black on white. The possibilities seemed endless. Of course my school work suffered in direct proportion to my budding creative talent. I quit doing my homework or even participating in class. I attribute this to my addictive personality. I was addicted to making curved lines out of straight. Nothing else was as much fun, especially while in class. Strangely enough, it really wasn’t fun at all as soon as I got home from school in the afternoons.

When the report cards came out, I discovered to my horror: all C’s save one class: a ‘D’ in that one! I was in deep shit. I knew I was gonna catch hell at home, but I wasn’t too concerned about that, not really. But when I got called into the School Counselor’s Office, a sudden fear came upon me. For moral support, I fetched along one of my best school buddies, Mike Small. He wasn’t allowed to sit with me during my counseling, so I parked him outside the office while I went in to greet my fate.

The office seemed to me very large as I slumped down in the single chair in front of the Counselor’s large desk. Suddenly I felt very small and vulnerable. And doomed.

“Mister Marcom,” be began solemnly, “Do you know why you are here today?”

“Nope,” I lied. (In California, ‘Nope’ and ‘Yeah’ were perfectly acceptable responses to these types of inquiries. Kids did not say “No Sir,” or “No Ma’am.” It wasn’t until I got back to Texas Schools that I learned, the hard way, to mend my speech.)

He studied some papers on his desk for a moment. “I’m afraid we are going to have to put you into the Medium Aptitude classification next year.”

“No!” I blurted out. “You can’t do that to me! I’ll lose all my friends!” I was near to tears.

“Whatever do you mean? You will still be in the same school.”

“This idiot really has not a clue how things work around here” I realized, trying to think of some way out of this before he dismissed me.

“Look,” I began pleading, “I just had a bad few weeks. I can do better.”

He looked through his papers again and said as he flipped through the little stack, “Well Mister Marcom, I do see that you have up until now, maintained reasonably good grades. Not great, but good.”

As he studied my ‘dossier’, I felt my heart racing. After what seemed to me an unusually cruel amount of time, he looked up and said, “Mister Marcom, I will allow you to start Sixth Grade in the same classification you are in now but, consider this probation. I will be talking to your teachers two weeks after the school year begins and if just one of them has a bad report on your performance, you will be transferred to the Medium Aptitude Classes for your own good. You may go now.”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I hauled ass before he could reconsider. Having regained some of my composure, I returned to my cocky self just in time to answer the question I saw in Mike’s eyes before he could even phrase it:

“Piece of cake,” I said. “Let’s get the hell outta here.”


Thank You For Reading.

12 thoughts on “On The Street Where I Lived: School Days

  1. Thanks made me think back on how in my mind the Paparazzi killed Di and Doddie. My family was living in England. You r writing made me think back. I enjoyed your writing.

  2. Dear Sharon,

    My humble story was a recounting of how cruel (and how ‘Southpark’) my clique was back in The Sixties. I never condoned it, even back then. I am just the messenger.

    (And I hope you know this, as I am certain you do) I, above all else, am actually, albeit, not really PC… but remain humane.

    Hope that makes some sense.

    Thank you for your visit and for your earnest comments.


  3. Yeah I would have fallen into the “Really Dumb Kids” class in 3rd grade where you grew up. You “Smart Kids” would have made fun of me or ignored me entirely. The teacher told my Mom I was retarded and needed “Special Ed”. My Mom being a stubborn and proud lady, hauled my ass down to a psychologist. Come to find out….I was just bored out of my freaking mind and only acted retarded to amuse myself! A simple I.Q. test and I got to skip a couple of grades. I’ve never looked back, because I cannot imagine what would have happened to me if I’d gotten put in those classes! Great post….glad you made it!

  4. Anna, Dear…
    Thank you.
    Your favorable opinion means much to me.
    Thank you for your visit and for your time and certainly for your complimentary comments.
    I do appreciate all.

  5. Thanks for sharing! Hilarious as usual! You have a way with words. Nope and Yeah aren’t acceptable when getting “schooled” at school in the South. 🙂

  6. You are too funny, sending that stuff to prove your country self.

    I was among the multitudes born in 1957. Reading your stuff and watching your music clips, I think you are similar.

  7. That is a cool story Mark. I left California middle of my Sixth Grade year, but corresponded with a couple of buddies for the first six months or so. I sent one of them a shoebox with a squirrel’s tail, some blue jay feathers and various other sundry items, just to prove I had in fact, escaped ‘City Life.’ Alas, never saw any of them again.
    ‘Gen Pop’ eh?
    Too funny
    Thanks for great comments!

  8. Growing up in the New York suburbs on Long Island, Lance, around the same time as you, the high-aptitude thing was called the advanced class. Once you got in it in elementary school, it meant that you had all the same 29 friends every year while everybody else mixed and matched.

    Everybody was thrown into general population in seventh grade, junior high. I felt so behind the curve because all the other kids from the regular classes knew each other so much better.

    Then we moved to a new school district and I started over in eighth grade anyway, made all new friends, and it didn’t matter anymore.

    A funny thing, though. When the 25th reunion of that first school district rolled around, those kids that I had been in the advanced class with all those elementary school years looked me up and invited me, even though I had moved after seventh grade and graduated from a different high school. That was a pretty cool social result of the advanced class experiment.

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