Dec. 4th, 2014

mellicious: pink manicure (Rudolph gif)
1966 was an eventful year. I finished kindergarten - my mother told me that I got up and sang a song at the end-of-school program, but I have no memory of that. I do know that by the end of kindergarten I had learned to read. I don't really think this was indication that I'm a genius or anything - remember that my mother had been teaching first grade. (Eventually she'd teach every grade between first and sixth.) She hadn't really made any effort to teach me to read, per se, she told me later, but she read to us a lot and I think I was "ready to read" as they say, and I just really wanted to learn how. In kindergarten they started teaching us the sounds that different letters made and once I had that missing piece I just ran with it. By the end of the year I was getting in trouble for reading the instructions in the workbook to my table so we could get ahead of everybody else. (Usually the only things I got in trouble for in school involved talking too much. I liked to talk, especially if I was bored. This worked in my favor, sort of, as you'll see in a minute.)

My dad didn't really like being a salesman. He had been a football player in high school and somehow he thought this qualified him to be a football coach. Nowadays I don't think you could get away with that kind of thing; his college degree was in agriculture - he was selling fertilizer, which is how we ended up in the wilds of west Texas in the first place. And the other piece of this was that my parents wanted to get out of west Texas and closer to home - which was the Houston area. My mother had a relative who was an administrator in Channelview, on the east side of Houston. Some time in the middle of the summer, apparently, idle talk about wanting to come home and my dad wanting to coach football turned into a job offer - jobs for both my parents, actually. We were visiting my grandparents when all this happened, and as it turned out my sister and I never went back to Lamesa at all - we stayed at my grandparents' house while my parents went home, resigned hastily from their jobs - I think it was already around the first of August when this happened - and packed up everything in the house to ship it back to Houston. I thought I was going to start first grade in Lamesa; instead it was Channelview, a place I'd never heard of. I knew that being close to my grandparents and Houston and all that was a good thing, theoretically, but I don't think I was too happy about being uprooted at the last minute like that. But when you're six, you don't have a say in these things.

Channelview was not really the greatest place in the world. The name comes from it being on the Ship Channel - it's very industrial. I imagine that's partly why they had all these teaching vacancies. That was the year my mother taught sixth grade, which she wasn't too happy about. (Sixth-graders think they know everything, she said.) So I started first grade, already knowing how to read, and unhappy and bored. Naturally, I talked a lot. I'm pretty sure that was a big reason for what happened next, which was that they decided to move me to second grade. I suspect that if I'd kept my mouth shut I would have gone merrily on with first grade. I didn't have any problem with moving up - I thought it was exciting. My mother said later that she wished they hadn't done it, but the academics of the thing were never really the problem. I think I found second grade pretty hard for a while, but I adjusted. I don't remember anybody ever being mean to me about it, even. The problem, especially later on, was that I wasn't very mature for my age, and when you added being a grade ahead to that, I was very immature compared to other kids. In Texas you started first grade if you were 6 by September 1st, and my birthday's in the spring so as it turned out a lot of kids in the second grade, and on all the way through school, were always a year and a half older than me. (The worst crisis about that, as far as I was concerned, was that I was the last person in my class to get my driver's license. Before that it didn't seem so important.)

Okay, so that was 1966 for me personally. I flirted around with doing various other songs for Music Advent, but I just had to do this one in the end - Nancy Sinatra. I loved the song at the time, plus the choreography in this video is hilarious.

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