Posted to OGR on 04/03/2011
The spring air is full of pollen these days and that reminds me of the chalk dust that filled the classrooms of my youth. Do you remember real blackboards, not greenboards, and certainly not those dry erase monsters that will get you high just sitting in the room with them? My kindergarten class room had an honest to goodness blackboard and the teacher wrote on it with white chalk. We didn’t even have the multi colored chalk that came along later. By the time I started first grade those new fangled greenboards and their yellow chalk were all the rage. Somehow, they were easier on the eyes and we all thought they were the coolest!
The greenboards retained one feature that the blackboards had; when you drug your fingernails across the surface, the resulting screech of sound made everyone cringe. Who can forget that iconic scene in the movie “Jaws” where Robert Shaw got everyone’s attention in the town meeting using the blackboard in the back of the room? Some of the teachers I had back in the day, used the same technique when we got rowdy. It was amazing how quickly that got complete silence and a UCC, (Universal Class Cringe.)
There were two maintenance duties that were often “outsourced” to students; “clapping” the dust out of the erasers and washing down the boards. Sometimes you got the “honor” of clapping the erasers because of a special achievement, (you got out of class for a few moments and into the great out of doors.) Sometimes you were punished; the result of clapping the erasers was often a coating of gritty chalk all over your clothes. We wore uniforms with white shirts and navy blue pants and there was no way of getting the chalk out of them before getting home. And you know what that meant.
Washing down the boards was never a reward, because had to do it when class was not in session. You had to get the janitor’s pail, fill it with water and drag it down to the classroom, wash the boards with rags and take it all back to the maintenance closet. Then you had to wash out the rags and hang them to dry. The closet always had the smell of drying rags and cleaning supplies. You had to do this during recess when your buddies were all out on the playground having fun or right after school if you were held for detention. Fortunately for me, that happened only once. Oh MY!
Copyright 2011 Rick Wrigley