Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Students at high school enjoyed university perks

It was unheard of in the early l920s for first-grade pupils to stretch out on floor mats and listen to classical music. It was "foolish" to serve graham crackers and milk in midmorning. Many people thought it was too experimental to have practice teachersin the classrooms. My parents chose that experimental education for my brother and me, from first grade right on through graduation from University High School. We students felt our connection with MU from the first. My brother, Jim Meyers, and I continued on the same campus to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees and chose university lab schools for our children.

Practice teaching became so popular that the lab schools could not accommodate all of the teacher trainees. The elementary school was a square, brown two-story building facing Sixth Street, and U-High was set back farther, behind a playing field, also facing Sixth Street. There were swings, rings and a trapeze bar between the two. The elementary playground included parallel bars and a "giant stride," which gave us many bangs on the head, but we loved the thing.

The entire campus was our playground, too. We obeyed the "don’t walk on the grass" rule and used the buildings with the same respect we learned for our school: "Don’t disturb anyone." Therefore we could take the stairs two at a time, quietly! Jesse Hall was four stories, and I climbed to the top many times. We roller-skated on the wide sidewalks of the red campus, so-called because of the red brick buildings.

Our art class learned human anatomy in the MU art display; we giggled and whispered about the naked statues and stared long at the ancient pottery and weapons.We went to Francis Quadrangle on Wednesdays after school to watch the uniformed soldiers drilling and to listen to the band. We watched the Memorial Union tower construction from the first and climbed the spiral stairway many times to look over the city. We tip-toed in the library and played on its wide marble steps outside.

At noon, we’d eat on the run and go farther; there were stuffed animals in a building on the white campus, so-called because of white limestone construction east of Ninth Street. One sniff of the physics building was enough! We learned swimming, team sports and track at the women’s gym, so we went back only for special events.

We were in high school when the stadium was being built. We didn’t watch that because of all of the construction equipment. Our physics class visited the astronomy observatory near there, but it had to be relocated when "civilization" crowded in, and it was no longer dark enough for viewing the night sky.

When the stadium was complete and the grading and seeding had not yet begun, several of us - perhaps six - took lunches and made a big event out of counting the seats to see how many people could get in that big U-shaped place at one time. We had a logical plan: Each girl was to take a certain area to count and report, then multiply etc. to come up with a total. Before it was time to run back to U-High, we got together and calculated.

"We’re probably the only people who know how many seats are here," we said. Then, running toward school, we saw a newly erected sign: "The seating capacity of this stadium is " We were crushed! And we were almost right! We made it back to school breathless, just as the bell rang for afternoon classes.


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