As a first grader at St John’s Elementary School, I remember clearly how impressed I was by the speed and sound of hundreds of kids as they came thundering down the stairs at the end of the day. The metal edging on the steps clanged as students’ shoes met the stairs, drowning out Sr. Mary Davidica’s warning of “NO Running!” Scores of bodies whizzed by me in a blur, and before you could say “saddle shoes”, the school was empty and quiet.
It was my older sister Margie I was waiting for outside my first grade classroom; she was going to pick me up and walk home with me. Our school didn’t have buses to transport kids – we all had to walk, whether our homes were near or far; ours was far. There were 10 city blocks between home and St John’s, with a very large intersection across a busy highway at about the halfway point. At 5 years old I had not yet been granted permission to cross 4 lanes of busy city traffic, even with a light, by myself. Margie, at 7 years old, was my guide and protector, at least at the beginning of the first grade year.
Margie was my hero all of my life in Seattle. She had red hair and freckles, was very smart, could play the piano and sang beautifully. We shared a bedroom, a small doll collection, and short tempers. As sisters we fought constantly, and drove my Mom crazy. But as friends, we were shirt-and-pants, doing virtually everything together until Margie left St John’s for highschool.
Still, there were plenty of years before she went on to highschool for sibling rivalry to reign supreme. But that is another blog post.