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This evening, with a view of the windmills turning in the distance between the mountains and the moon rising in the dark sky, I listened to various stories: one about a car that was lit on fire so it would “burn rubber” literally as it peeled out, one about sloughing school to go roller-skating on a water tower and one about the stunt pulled on a gullible French teacher.

Tonight we met with our PALs (Parents At Large) group (empty nesters). There were 7 couples and two single ladies. We sat at a length of tables under a pavilion and ate grilled chicken, home made rolls, salads and the best cupcakes! And we took turns, going down one side of the tables and up the other, telling stories of school days. I told the one about my 6th grade Valentine.

But here’s one I didn’t tell.

In third grade my classroom was in the basement. In lieu of a coatroom, a double row of hooks lined one wall with shelves above where lunches were kept for the students that rode the bus. Beneath the coats, nest to the door, was a large box with playground equipment: jump ropes, a couple of hula hoops, and one kickball. For awhile, my desk was right next to the box. When the bell rang, I grabbed that ball.

Now the playground rule was whoever held the ball, ruled. All the boys for both 3rd grades, and a few girls, raced to a ball diamond on the asphalt playground for a game of kickball. They gathered around me at the painted “home,” calling, “Susan, pick me,” and then waited to see who I placed where. Of course I was “up.” Then I’d choose Harry and Tom (I’m not making this up) to join me with a few other of the best athletes to be “pitcher,” “first-base,” and so on. I usually let a girlfriend be on a base, but mostly I catered to the boys. Something to do with crushes.

I usually was put out my first kick. I don’t think I ever got to first base. Since we played “work-up” that meant I finished recess in right field. But I never forgot that moment of power and temporary popularity that came each recess.

What school day memories do you have? Have you told somebody lately?

About those cupcakes tonight:

Place a small peanut butter cup in the bottom of the wrapper. Fill with your favorite chocolate cake recipe (I could tell it was not from a mix) and bake. Frost with Peanut butter frosting (do an internet search) and top with a mini peanut butter cup. They were a hit. (I don’t have an exact recipe–another lady brought them.)