Remembering Field Trips

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            One of my favorite parts of school was field trips. I cared much less about where we went than that we went. I hated being cooped up indoors, in the same place, day after day. The teacher would drone on and on about dead people (History), or places you knew you would never see (Geography), or math you knew you would never use (I actually used quite a bit). And all of this, while you sat quietly (the hardest part) in the same uncomfortable, little wooden chair, and pretended to pay attention. In case you haven’t guessed, I wasn’t a very good student, at least in my early years.

            Then finally, the day circled on your calendar came, the field trip. The prison doors swung open, and, bag lunch in hand, you along with your fellow inmates, happily piled onto chauffeured limonene (school bus), on a quest for adventure.

            One of my most memorable was, I believe, in sixth grade. This was our last year at Gasteyer School, before we all moved on to the Jr. High. They actually, for the first time, gave us a choice. The trip was to downtown Chicago (about fifteen miles). The first part was set. Across the street from the Art Institute was the Borg Warner Building. At that time, they had a science exhibition in the lobby. Science was one of the few subjects I found interesting. The second part was a downtown movie. This is where the choice came in. We voted for either “Gone With The Wind” or “Dr. Dolittle”. From what I remember, it wasn’t even close. Which do you think an eleven-year-old would rather see, another history lesson about old dead people, or a guy who can talk to animals? No-brainer!

            The movie was just all right: too much singing. The exhibition however, was very interesting. I can’t remember a lot of details. I think there were a lot of sparky electrical things and a few motors. I believe one was a see-through engine. But the exhibit I found fascinating was smell-o-vision (not sure that’s what it was called). It was an actual large screen TV (probably all of 27 inches) with a repeating program. The difference was, you could actually smell what you were seeing. I thought, surely this was what we would all have in the future. I was even more certain when the camera panned over a field of flowers, and later a rain storm in a forest. It felt like I was there. Then they switched to the wet dog on the beach. Let’s just say, some ideas are better in theory. I was just glad the dog was only running on the beach, and not stopping to do anything, or discovering a fire hydrant.

            Sometimes it’s fun to remember those fun days from school, or other youth adventures. Take a minute or two and try to remember some from your childhood. If you want, write them down. Who knows, maybe that could be the way you begin your own memoir.

Crystal’s Corner

            My first school was in Roseland in Chicago.  It was a red brick tall Victorian building surrounded by an iron fence.  We very rarely went on field trips.  I do remember going to Brookfield Zoo, probably in the spring.  My brother, who was two years older than me was also on the field trip with his class.  The teachers took us all over the zoo in groups.  It was very organized and we were told to stay with the group many times.  Of course, I stayed with my group.  I didn’t want to get in trouble or lost.  Brookfield Zoo is a huge place and as a child it was fascinating but also intimidating.  I was glad we were with the teachers, in groups.

            However, that wasn’t true of my brother, Larry and his friend, Georgie.  Georgie was very adventurous, and not one to care too much about rules.  My brother was more obedient, but when he was with Georgie, anything could happen.  In the afternoon, we piled into the buses.  I thought that Larry was with his group.  I think they were on a different bus.  Then I heard a teacher saying, “Has anyone seen Larry Carlson or Georgie Bailey?”  No one answers. 

            This made me very afraid, that the buses will leave without my brother and Georgie.  This was a very strict and crowded school.  Every class was filled to the maximum.  They ran out of books sometimes.  So, I believed they could just leave my brother and Georgie at the Zoo and not really care.  I wasn’t too happy with Georgie at this point, but his sister, Debra, was my best friend so I didn’t want him to be left at the zoo either.

            Finally, one of the boys said that they were in the reptile house, and didn’t leave with the rest of the group.  So, one of the teachers had to go to the reptile house to find them, and bring them back to the bus.             I am sure they were teased about that for days and days.  I don’t think I told my mom or dad about it.  My brother and I had a code; and we didn’t always tell about stuff that happened at school.  But I told him, when I had a chance, to never do that again.  He said he knew the school wouldn’t leave them at the zoo.  They liked the snakes and other reptiles, and didn’t want to be dragged to other places in the zoo.

            After we moved to Dolton, I am sure we did go on field trips.  They took us to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  In 8th grade we had a choice to see the play “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” or see a White Sox game.  I wanted to see the play, but there were more boys than girls voting, and we ended up at the White Sox game.  It was a really hot sunny day and we were in the sun.  We were not very close to the infield, but we could see what happened at the game.  We brought our sack lunches.  I thought the whole thing was boring.  I didn’t go to another White Sox game until I went with Ron and his friends from work.

It was much more fun with Ron and his friends. I also had a few sips of really cold beer and Ron bought me a Chicago style hot dog with all the toppings and a big pretzel.  He was surprised that I got excited at the game when the White Sox were hitting the ball.  Carlton Fiske was my favorite player.  He was the catcher, but also a great hitter.  I wasn’t a sports fan before we got married, but I decided to take an interest so we could watch games together.  I found a player I liked on all the Chicago teams: Michael Jordan on the Bulls, Walter Payton on the Bears, etc.  Then I would get excited when my guys did anything great.  I picked some really good players. 

OK, this has nothing to do with field trips, only a trip to Oregon with my parents when I was about the same age. That was the first gun I ever shot, and the first goat I ever milked….I think she liked me.

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