1. What was your favorite piece of playground equipment when you were a kid?
Hmmm ... I wasn't a big play-outside kid, nor a very physical one, but I did like recess, because I liked to interact with my friends. And I guess my favorite piece of playground equipment was the "merry-go-round" (you know, the dangerous spinny thing). It didn't require constant effort (like swings, teeter-totter, or monkey bars), and the experience was always shared.
2. What do you remember about your first-grade teacher? (Pick the earliest grade teacher you remember, if you don’t remember anything about your first-grade teacher.)
My first-grade teacher, who was also my very first school teacher (there being no mandatory Kindergarten in my state till the year after it would have applied to me), was named Mrs. Friedlander. What I remember most was that she left us halfway through the year on maternity leave, so then we got a new teacher, Miss Bubb. I think Mrs. F had straight blond hair and was tall-ish, while Miss B had curly brunette hair and was shorter (but it has been more than five decades since I was six years old, so I won't go to the mat for any of that). They were both very nice, though since you can't know that in advance about anyone, it was scary to be told we were losing Mrs. F. And I think I might have been a teacher's pet of one of them (maybe Miss B?). Not sure if that last thing is a true memory, or a memory of my mom telling my dad that the teacher told her in a conference that I was a favorite. Possibly the latter (I'd check with Mom, but I'll suspect she doesn't remember it anymore).
3. What’s an especially memorable field trip you took with a class in your very early years?
For all five years of elementary education, which I experienced at four different schools in the D.C. suburbs, the big annual field trip was a day in Washington. The morning was spent at the National Zoo, where (for reasons never clear to me) we also ate our lunch (I mean, those picnic tables were far too close to the -- yuck -- Monkey House). Then it was off to the Smithsonian, where we saw the big elephant and the Hope diamond at the Museum of Natural History, followed by the big flag and the long pendulum and the First Ladies' gowns at the Museum of American History. (We probably saw other exhibits, but those are the things I remember well.) My mom, being a SAHM and a good sport, was always a chaperone.
4. What are some fads you remember from your elementary school days? Did you get into them?
- Like, say, toys that everyone had to have? I mean, I was big into Barbie, but she doesn't feel like a fad now. We had the pink sports car and the dream house, and I even had a Barbie lunchbox and read Barbie books -- okay, maybe that level of interest *was* faddish. (And maybe I should say I was born in 1961, to provide a little context here.) We had what I think of as the standard novelty toys -- Slinky, Magic 8-Ball, Silly Putty, Hula hoop, and Super Ball -- but only the last of those was a true '60s fad/phenomenon (Slinky dates from the '40s; the rest are from the '50s). Were Easy-Bake Ovens, Lite-Brite, and "Mystery Date" fad toys? Like Barbie, the first two, at least, endured past the decade ... but I had 'em all when they were pretty new.
- I can't think of many fashion fads for that age group at that time. I mean, there was no elite tennis shoe everyone had to have; we wore fish-head sneakers before they were cool. I guess the "pixie" haircut was a thing, and my sister & I both had them for a time.
- My sister and I watched all the TV shows everyone else our age watched, including the ones with adolescent/teen stars we were meant to "like" (and buy Tiger Beat magazine to learn more about). You know, H.R. Pufnstuf (which had Jack Wild), The Brady Bunch (though I don't think we were into the Brady boys), The Partridge Family (David Cassidy, but I liked Danny better), and Here Come the Brides (not a kids' show, but Bobby Sherman was in it). I guess interest in the teen idols of the day is inherently faddish behavior. Another '60s fad show that we loved was Batman (we watched every week and, if Dad had to work late, we wrote down the specific "Biff!"s and "Pow!"s that were employed in the episode so we could tell him later). Oh, and Saturday morning cartoons: while anything that enjoyed a three-decade heyday can't really be called a fad, we got into it on the ground floor, you might say.
- Food fads! We were hugely into Pop-Tarts when they were new (so, maybe a fad at the time, if not anymore). We also rushed out for Pop Rocks when we learned about them, and we took sides in the big TV marketing campaigns for "rival" sugary cereals (Quisp vs. Quake; Count Chocula vs. Frankenberry). If I recall correctly, Pop-Tarts ushered in some other cook-in-the-toaster things, and we were devoted to toaster pizzas for a while.
5. If your elementary school had food service, what's a lunch you were especially fond of, and what’s a lunch you were especially not fond of?
I went to suburban Maryland public schools, and one could buy lunch even when there wasn't a cafeteria (in those cafeteria-less schools, you paid in homeroom, and the trays were delivered to class on a cart at lunchtime). I was a little picky, so always had a packed lunch, but I did buy a drink. A half-pint box of regular milk cost two cents, while a chocolate milk could be had for six cents. I think Mom was usually willing to bankroll a chocolate. Happy days.