October 10, 2006

Kindergarten, 1957.

I just ran across this old picture from my kindergarten class. Place: Newark, Delaware.

Kindergarten class 1957

For the full-size picture, go here.

I can't really remember who any of these kids are (other than me). I think it's cute that they got nearly all the girls to cross our legs at the ankles, which was considered the only proper way for a female to cross her legs. Note that the girls in shorts are put on one side and the girls in skirts on the other. Whatever they did to makes us smile seems to have amused the boys more than the girls. I like the way you can tell who the class clown is. Back in those days, there were no public kindergartens. This building was next to the pool that everyone joined for the summer. I like the windows. Kind of Usonian, right? What did we do in kindergarten back then? We were not taught to read. I think the only idea was to get us used to going to school. We played rhythm instruments, mostly sticks. We fooled around with clay. We were sent outside to run around. We were forced to take little naps lying on little throw rugs. I remember coming up with the theory that I could use my feet to propel myself around the room, and that if I did it slowly enough the teacher would not be able to see it. My analogy was to the minute hand on a clock. Turns out the analogy was not that accurate, and the teachers did not appreciate my scientific experimentation.


chuck b. said...

Wow, that picture is really sharp and clear. I think two girls have uncrossed legs.

I loved kindergarten, except for the few months when I got bussed to a school across town to settle an overcrowding issue. I got in a lot of trouble at the other school.

We made shrinky dinks, learned about the clouds, matched shapes, finger-painted, sang patriotic songs (all of which I abs. loved...I hope they still teach kids patriotic songs in school), finger painted, had graham crackers and milk at lunch, and we had our own little cubby holes for our stuff.

My teacher was Miss Peterson and she spanked me once for using the toilet w/out permission. Maybe it was broken or something. She really freaked out. Anyway, I don't think she taught there much longer after that year. Maybe kindergarten wasn't a good fit for her.

And I remember a few of the other kids. Guy, George, Patrick, Michael, Kiki (short for a long, Hawaiian sounding name, like Keyaunee or something), Joachim and Angela. Angela was the girl noone liked because she was always dirty and kinda smelled bad. I was nice to her tho'--at no small expense to my own social status. She lived in a house just like ours, but her yard was all dirty and unkempt, kind of like she was.

VW: ftjhipsy

stephenb said...

Could our host be the cute little blonde in the front row stubbornly refusing to cross her legs?

chuck b. said...

Oh, and the funny thing about getting spanked by my teacher--I became certain she did it because she didn't like my shirt. I wouldn't let my mother dress me in that shirt ever again.


AJ Lynch said...

I am about your age and I don't remember a thing about kindergarten. I passed I think.

Re your comment I will post a link to a story I just saw that recommends kids should just play more (ad hoc vs. the choreographed playing).

Btw, which one are you?

Eli Blake said...

OK, I'll bite. Front row, third from the end in the dark dress?

Eli Blake said...

And of course the music to go with this is only too, too obvious:

The Statler Brothers' "class of '57 had its dreams"

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Tommy's selling used cars
Nancy's fixing hair
Harvey runs a grocery store
and Margaret doesn't care
Jerry drives a truck for Sears
and Charlottes on the make
and Paul sells life insurance
Part time real esate

Ellen is a hostess
Frank works at the mill
Janet teaches grade school
And probably always will
Bob works for the city
And Jacks in lab research
And Peggy plays the organ at the presbetarian church

And the class of '57 had its dreams
We all hope we'd change the world
With our great works and deeds
Maybe we all thought the world would change
To fit our needs
But the class of '57 had its dreams

Betty runs a trailor park
Jan sells Tupperware
Randy's on an insane ward
And Mary's on welfare
Charlie took a job with Ford
And Joe took Freddie's wife
Charlotte took a millionaire
And Freddie took his life

Johnny's big in cattle
Ray is deep in debt
Where Mavis finally wound up
Is anybody's bet
Linda married Sonny
Brenda married me
And the Class of all of us
Is just part of History

And the class of '57 had its dreams
But living life day to day is never like it seems
Things get complicated
When you get past eighteen
And the class of '57 had its dreams
All the class of '57 had its dreams

Ann Althouse said...

Hey, I thought it was easy to tell which one is me. You haven't guessed yet! It's obvious!!

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephenb said...

Okay, front row, third from left...still refusing to cross her legs...tapping her foot wondering when the hell this is going to be over.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephenb said...

Ann, I didn't know you went to kindergarten with Stockard Channing (front row, fourth from left).

Truly said...

By the way, crossing your legs at the ankle is the correct way for a lady to sit. Knees together, ankles crossed, feet/lower legs angled back and to the right, hands folded in the lap. They taught us that in gym class (though my mom says the same). Oh, and don't slouch.

Doug said...

I have visions of Leave it to Beaver after seeing some of the boys. I don't remember learning how to read in Kindergarten either, though my daughters left that grade with that ability. The Dick and Jane book came in First grade.

I recall singing Frere Jacques, taking naps on the previously mentioned carpet squares, and singing the Carpenters "Top of the World"

Dave said...

"Knees together, ankles crossed, feet/lower legs angled back and to the right..."

How does that work? Pressing your knees together while your ankles are crossed bunches up your abdomen and pelvis? Talk about uncomfortable.

chickenlittle said...

Better safe than sorry. In my 1st grade class photo, ca 1966, one poor girl seated in front was wearing a dress and was apparently NOT instructed about the proper way to cross her legs. Not the way to be remembered!

Old Dad said...

Front row, first left.

Goatwhacker said...

I'm with Old Dad.

Truly said...


Actually, it's much easier on your back than crossing your legs at the knee. You have to sit forward in the chair, though, to do the crossed ankles.

Maybe it's harder for guys. Have you ever noticed that men like to sit with their legs spread as wide as possible? Why is that?

Truly said...

Also: front row, fourth from the right, white dress w/ lacy skirt.

Derve said...

Either you guys are not looking at the enlarged picture, or you just don't want to recognize how pretty your blog hostess was as a child. Understandable, coming so soon after the Foley 'pedophile' thing and all.

For the boys, the two corners in the top row are cute.

Moxie said...

I'll guess! Second row, center -- wearing the white sleeveless blouse with the pattern.

Simon said...

If I had to guess, I'd say front row third from right, in the dark dress and two-ring necklace.

Anonymous said...

We don't call it 1957. We call it 2 BSC.

I think the windows are "international" style. Very fifties.

In any case, the picture is marvelous.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne got it right (and Truly). Next to "Stockard Channing," in the lacy skirt. I'm a natural redhead, not a blonde! I've told you this before.

Truly said...


Greg said...

No way. I'm a long time reader, first poster, and have lived in Newark most of my life--grew up there in fact. Is that Brookside? Those windows are very 50s.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe nobody's used this cute photo of innocent kids from back in the day to grind their particular political axe.

OK, I'll be 'that guy', . . . This photo is as white as a Bloggers for Clinton meeting.

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

I was forced to attend dancing classes, where girls were given a quarter as a prize if they had their legs properly crossed, at the ankles. I'm only 33. Seems like a different world

Mark Daniels said...

I was one year behind you, starting Kindergarten in September, 1958, at the ripe age of four.

Johnny Nucleo said...

I failed kindergarten three times because on the final I kept putting the square in the space that was meant for the circle. This was not because I was stupid. It was because I was very smart and I thought it was a trick question.

The upside was that by my fourth year of kindergarten I was much bigger then the other kids and was able to rule the class and crush all who challenged my regime.

Tibore said...

Oh, jeez... I'm only 36, and I hardly remember anything about kindergarten. I remember the walk home afterwards, and very disconnected details, but that's it.

And (*shudder*), for some odd reason, I remember even less about 1st grade. I only start recalling school starting at 2nd grade.

Aaaack!... I'm going senile!... Before 40!!!...


And: Is it just me, or does the girl front row, 1st on the right look slightly stoned?

I'm not implying she is, mind you, I'm just saying that's her expression.

Also, I give up. I can only narrow down the class clown to 3 kids:

First place, most probable: Last row, 3rd from left.

Second place: Second row, all the way on the right. That smile's too big 'n toothy to be genuine.

Third place: Last row, all the way on the left. I dunno... something about him just screams "clown" to me.

Tibore said...

"This was not because I was stupid. It was because I was very smart and I thought it was a trick question."

Sure, sure... try to rationalize it after the fact...


buck turgidson said...

God, kids were ugly in 1957! And what's with that girl with a double head? (The one on the other side of "Stockard Channing")

Ann Althouse said...

Greg: Yeah, Brookside. 67 Chaucer Drive. My family bought that house when it was new.

vnjagvet said...

Kinda scary seeing this. I graduated from HS in 1957 and attended public Kindergarten in 1945. Mornings only. Blocks, fingerpainting, clay, songs, naps, "refreshments", stories and recess. No reading at school, but my mom taught me anyhow.

The fiftieth HS reunion is next year.

wv: thuggz

tiggeril said...

Good heavens.

I started kindergarten in 1986.

(Sartorially, y'all got the better end of the deal!)

Mark said...

What a bunch of cute kids. I could eat them all up with a spoon, as they say. Ms. Althouse is adorable!

Chum said...

First row, third from left. Based on grandmother's pic and the wearing of shorts. Clearly, the phobia regarding shorts began sometime in these early years.

AllenS said...

A one, and a two, and ah...

You must have been a beautiful baby
You must have been a wonderful child
When you were only starting to go to kindergarten
I bet you drove the little boys wild.
And when it came to winning blue ribboms
You must have shown the other kids how.
I can see the judges' eyes as they handed you the prize
You must have made the cutest bow.
You must've been a beautiful baby
'Cause baby look at you now.

Meade said...

Wow! So it really did begin way back then... girls, front and center; boys, to the rear, to the (are-they-really-necessary?) margins.

Ann Althouse said...

That's right. Groups are not arrayed randomly. The prettiest girls are arranged front and center.

Ann Althouse said...

(And best dressed.)

George said...

Today federal courts mandate that children must be arranged to ensure racial balance, and it's going to be just as much of a problem up north as it will be down south.

Just a prediction. As far as I'm concerned, this is a local matter that the federal judiciary should keep out of.

Ann Althouse said...

George: The question before the Supreme Court this term is whether a city can choose to make decisions for racial balance. If the decision is to keep courts out of the matter, racial balancing is upheld.

in_the_middle said...

What a fantastic post. My mom had my sister wear pigtails, and my mom told me when I asked her that it was "because my sister, like all little girls with pigtails, is mischievous and the teacher ought to be alerted to what she was in for".

Somehow this theory holds true here, a few decades later, for both of you. :)

Ann Althouse said...

In the middle: No one in the picture is wearing pigtails... One girl seems to have two ponytails (but that's not me).

Joe said...

The theme music from Little Rascals immediately went into my head on seeing this picture.

Bruce Hayden said...

My only memory of kindergarden was the rug and nap bit. Looking back, I wonder why they thought that a rug would do much good when sleeping on a hard linoleum floor. But I do remember that it kinda worked - I would typically wonder whether I could fall asleep, and then would.

I think I do also remember recess - not so much what we did, but that it was a highpoint.

Bruce Hayden said...

As to crossing your feet or legs, yes, males and females are built differently, and, at least as adults, this is one of the significant ways in which they are. It is hard for most males to cross their legs at all, and almost impossible for them to get the upper leg to lie nicely next to the lower one - rather, the upper one tends to be much closer to horizontal.

I would expect though that in kindergarden these physical sexual differences have not yet appeared in the kids and that crossing feet would be little different for boys and girls. Rather, it is training for later, when it does matter.

And, yes, I can see why crossing feet would be more lady-like. Crossed legs is a lot more sexual - presumably because it emphasizes the physical differences between the two sexes. Also, it emphasizes the, usually bare, legs.

Hunter McDaniel said...

And that's NEW-ARK Delaware, unlike NUERK New Jersey.

georgi said...

I grew up in Newark, Delaware! Did you go to high school there too?

Ann Althouse said...

Georgi: No, we moved to Wilmington (suburbs) when I was in second grade.