Kindergarten was a time of great turmoil. I was five-years-old when I started at East Salem Elementary School. My teacher was Mrs. Fields. I don't remember much about her, but she made some decent chocolate chip cookies.
School itself was a fairly uneventful time. I'm told that Mrs. Fields let me read to the class to show off my early reading abilities. I'm not sure if it was all that impressive. I do remember the teachers and aides teaching us letters, which I already knew, by using characters known as Letter People. If I remember correctly, the consonants were male and the vowels were female. Kind of an unbalanced society.
This was the year of the big flood in the Roanoke Valley. November of 1985 brought lots and lots of rain. It was a flood that eventually brought the downfall of Lakeside Amusement Park. I remember being forced to stay at school late the day of the flood. Buses weren't running because it wasn't safe. It was the first and only time I ate dinner in school. East Salem was very close to Mason Creek, which rose pretty high. Also nearby was a trailer park. When the flood waters came, they carried some of the trailers away with them.
I turned six the following March and invited all my classmates to a birthday party at McDonald's. For a long time I have told people that this is where my fear of clowns was born. My version of the story goes that Ronald McDonald carried in my birthday cake, tripped over his floppy red shoes, and his fake hair caught fire when he got too close to the lit candles. It's a ridiculous story, but people seem to buy it. I'm here to tell you it's not true. Nothing so crazy happened at my sixth birthday party.
I wish I had more to say about my time at East Salem, but that one year was it for me. After that I would be in Roanoke for the rest of my school days.