Patterson Family
My Education Begins

I started my quest for higher education at Wilson Public School in September 1942.

At this time in history the world believed that Germany trying to dominate Europe, Japan trying to dominate Asia, and the Italians trying to dominate Africa was a crisis of gigantic proportions. Little did anyone know that all the world problems would pale to insignificance by the events that were to unfold that fateful day in September 1942. This transition from mama's baby boy to a learned scholar was much more traumatic than what I experienced when I joined the Marines. Things started off on a good foot with my sister and I getting on the bus that would transport us over the horizon. My sister’s assigned task of getting me to school was something like Eisenhower’s task of getting across the English Channel. This was her senior year and she was soon to envy the simple problem of invading Europe. Initially, she thought this would be an easy “walk in the sun”; little did she know this was just the eye of the storm. Getting the bus from the house to school worked as planned. Next obsticle she faced upon arriving at Wilson Public School was to simply go down into the basement and place me in the competent hands of the First grade teacher and then retreat to the upper levels where the esteemed seniors were located. Wrong! To say that this simple task was rather traumatic would be like calling World War II a domestic dispute. At this point flaws started to appear in the plan. The obvious fact that I had never been separated from my mother and sister failed to be incorporated into the operating plan. As Robbie Burns said “Best laid plans of men and mice”, and my mother and sister “often go asunder”. When Frances attempted the custody transfer to the first grade teacher Mrs. Forrester, things very rapidly collapsed inward on itself. Contrary to the plan, which was not discussed with me, separation from France was destined for failure since it was an alien concept beyond my comprehension. In the ensuing battle a lot of gnashing, wailing, wrestling, pushing, shoving and general pandimonium resulted with me being trapped in the dungeon with the evil dragon. How Frances escaped to the upper levels of the school is beyond my memory. This activity was like dropping a bag of marbles on a tile floor. When all the marbles stopped bouncing, I looked around and Frances was gone. As I recalled there was a lot of crying going on during the first day. With considerable scuffling and yelling the teacher finally got me to stay in my assigned chair. I had resigned myself to a life without my sister. I figured this new adventure might not be all that bad. However, the calm is just before the storm.

The downward spiral had just started. Another storm was brewing on the horizon. With the finesse of a First Sergeant, the teacher instructed everyone to get out their pencils and pads and print their name. As all the other students set out to accomplish the assigned task, I sat with a dumb look on my face. I was struck with the sudden realization that mother had printed my name on my lunch sack for such eventuality. As plans go, this one was also flawed since the teacher had decided that all lunch sacks should be collected and placed in the cloakroom. This little action by the teacher made my first assignment most difficult, as I had no idea how to read or write. Again the focus was on me, as the teacher couldn’t seem to grasp the concept that I was an illiterate. Like all things, this passed after she admonished me for being stupid.

My initiation into the first grade did not do much to endear me to my contempories during the recess period. As I had been the focus all morning, it seemed like everyone had some opinion about my stupidity and being a mammas boy. Several altercations developed that resulted in shoving and punching of my body. Again the teacher somehow figured that I was the instigator and admonished me for not getting along with my fellow man. I never liked recess period after this. A vivid memory exists about a young lad named "Rat" that was in the third grade. For some reason he tended to believe that I was a sissy. I am sure that the poor lad was not named Rat by his mother, but it was generally accepted as correct by first graders. All of this tended to place the focus on me during my first experience in the cold cruel world of elementary education

Things calmed down after recess and I started pursuing a higher education. However, the day was not over. At lunch I again became the focal point. A young lad thought that taking my lunch ticket and refusing to return it would be a good joke. After due consideration the solution seemed obvious, take my ticket back and tear the young lads ticket in half. I suppose that more thought should have been given to this problem, since my solution rather displeased the teacher. I was yanked and shoved behind the door in the cloakroom where a very large spider considered this to be his home. Needless to say, my attack on the spider caused more concern for the teacher and more admonishment for me.

Finally, the first day of Armageddon was drawing to a close. Frances had instructed me to go to Bus Number 3 at the end of school. One obvious problem with this plan was that I did not know how to count. Thankfully, part of the plan was for Frances seek me out and get me home to mother at the end of a most disturbing day. In these days schools had only 11 grades, which made Frances only 15 years old when given this task. I am not sure who had a worse day.

A lot of my problem at the time was that I was a mammas boy. I had never been separated from my mother until this fateful day. I always had Mama or Frances around me. Of course when mother would leave Frances would tell me that she would not return.

Things ultimately settled down and I adapted to the daily routines of being a first grader. I do remember that Mrs Forrester never liked me after the Battle of Custody Transfer. Living in a settlement of Germans created another blib in my ability to coexist with my fellow class mates. During World War II being German was not popular and liking them was just about as bad. Germans were large landowners, making them acceptable by the adult population, but not among the children. I am sure that the adults showed the world one face and taught the children another value at home. Economics make strange bed fellow, but it doesn't mean that you like them. German children would attend the Lutheran School in Wilson, but would ride the same school bus as the public did. I would associate with them on the school bus which was not acceptable by others. Since several of my friends were German, I got the reputation of being a Kraut lover. Several discussions and disagreements resulted during the school day, causing concern for Mrs Forrester. I assume that she did not like me in general or she did not like Germans or both, because the altercations were always my fault. This obstacle to growing up was also overcome and I moved on to other things. As remembered, Wilson Public School was crap. I think that my experience with educators in the first grade scarred me on being able to understand why cant teacher learn how to teach.

I still remember some good things at Wilson Public School. The janitor and our bus driver, Mr Tapp, would put coins in the peanut machine. It took a penny to get a handful of peanuts with the tempting lure of getting a nickel or a dime as a prize. As the war progressed children were encouraged to collect scrap iron and rubber and buy War Bond. There were posters around the school asking students help our soldiers destroy the Axis. Students could buy a 10 cent stamp and paste it in a book like the one below. When you got $18.50 a War Bond would be issued in your name. I kept my bond until it matured in 1973. I would walk along the road and pickup cigarette packages and chewing gum wrappers and peel off the tin foil, make it into a ball, and take it to school. That was my effort to destroy the Axis.

I attended school at Wilson Public School through the second grade. For the love of me I cant remember anything of significance that occurred. There was a  teacher named Mrs Cobb, who I liked. She was related to daddy some how.

Shortly after starting the third grade, mother pulled me out and we moved to Lubbock. I dont think I really missed anything by moving.

Chapter 1 My Way of Thinking
Chapter 2 My Father and Mother Became Sharecroppers
Chapter 3 Conception to Awareness
Chapter 4 Now I Know That I Remember -- I Think
Chapter 5 Things That We Did on The Farm
Chapter 6 Life on Jackson's Place
Chapter 7 My Education Begins
Chapter 8 Life on the Farm

Chapter 9 Move to the Metropolis of Lubbock, Texas
Chapter 10 Marines

Chapter 11 College and New Orleans

Chapter 12 Indonesia

Chapter 13 Bahrain
Chapter 14 Scotland