It has been 50 years since my first day of school but I still remember walking through the doors of Medicine Lodge Grade School under the watchful eyes of the very impressive replica of the Statue of Liberty that towered over me at the main entrance. Lady Liberty greeted me and so did my teacher — all from great heights above me but with an openness that welcomed me to a community that would support me through successes and challenges. I later learned that this replica was part of the Boy Scouts of America’s 40th anniversary celebration and was placed in front of the school around 1950. It still stands.
The idea for the project was organized by the Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council and eventually over 200 of the small replicas were placed around the country. And one of them somehow found its way to my little school in Barber County in south central Kansas.
The campaign called “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty” placed replicas of the statue, made of stamped copper, purchased by local Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states. The statues are approximately 8 1⁄2 feet tall without the base, weighed 290 pounds and originally cost $350 plus freight. Many have been lost or destroyed, but preservationists have been able to account for about a hundred of them. They were commonly installed at city halls, libraries, and schools.
Sweet memories from my first year of school:
- Graham cracker and milk breaks, except that time Ruthie spit up on me
- Learning to jump rope and loving every recess
- The tall metal slide
- Music lessons and art projects
- Learning to tie my laces on a fake shoe with real laces
- Reading groups
- Being with kids my own age all day long
- Making new friends
- My own desk with the lid that lifted up to store my stuff inside
- My hook in the back coat closet
- Shiny waxed floors
- Not left at home with only Mom
- Walking to school with my friends and occasionally my brother, but he usually walked several steps ahead of me so his friends wouldn’t see him with his little sister
- Lunch especially peanut butter and honey mixed together for seconds
I hope everyone had a great first day of school and let’s make it a great year so you too will have memories you won’t soon forget. If you have a memory to share, please post.