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Second Graders: 1962

Second Graders: 1962

My second grade class at James Buchanan Elementary School, Levittown Pennsylvania, spring 1962. Teacher is Shayndel Sacks (which may have had a different spelling. Her first name was pronounced Shane-Dell, and her last name could have been spelled Sachs). I am the girl seated next to her, wearing the blue headband. At least a third of these same children were in my first grade class. View full size.

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The Only President From Pennsylvania

The reason the school was named for James Buchanan was that he is the only president who came from Pennsylvania, and the school is in that state.
The original school has since been torn down and a new, much larger school, named Brookwood, has been built further back on the property, replacing it, and two other 1950's era elementary schools in the Bristol Township School system.

James Buchanan Elementary?

So, did your town already have a Millard Fillmore Elementary School? Buchanan seems way down on the list of presidents to name schools after.

Now, Roy Buchanan, I could see naming it after him. Guess he wasn't really on the scene in '62 though.

I was there, too

This could have been my 2nd grade class that same year. Growing up in Orange County, CA, we had a mix of white, "Spanish", and Asian/white kids due to the local Marine base. No black kids in my classes or neighborhood, but my school was also the district center for deaf/hard of hearing education, so the school was integrated. Bullies might mess with a little deaf kid once on the playground, but the older deaf kids would take care of them, but good. Another memory dump concluded.

Integration in the Jim Crow south

Aenthal and I are the same age! I was also in second grade for the 1961-62 school year, at Tarawa Terrace Elementary School, Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. My class also included children of a wide variety of skin colors. That was just normal, to us, mostly Marine's kids with a few Navy juniors. Off the base, however, black and white kids couldn't even use the same public restrooms, let alone go to school together! I've always been proud, and thankful, for the opportunity of being part of that community.

North & South

In the spring of 1962, I was in fourth grade. Since I was in the Deep South, the school was all white. That year I was put in a summer-school class for slow learners. My school was expanding, so class was at the local black school. Since only whites got extra education, no black kids were there. It was not until my Junior year (1970) that black kids were allowed to attend what had been white only schools.

Doug, San Diego



Boys vs Girls

The first row of kids sitting on the stage floor, was composed of kids who did not fit on either row of chairs or the standing row between them. They assembled last.

I remember the teacher being concerned that Billy Spitola (top row, second from left, in gray shirt and crew cut) wanted to stand on the rear row of chairs, because he had braces and crutches, and she was not sure him free standing on a chair was a good idea. But he was already up on the chair with his friends, when she began to tell him not to do that.

As for how the boy with the red jacket ended up in a row of girls, I think it was just adult math. There wasn't space on the chairs boys were standing on. There were already eight kids balancing there. Putting him on the floor made seven in each lower row. He, and the girl he is next to, were the two smallest kids in the class.

Thank you, aenthal

So many delightful features here to comment upon, but I shall limit myself to three:
- the boy in the third row with his shoulders shrugged up to his ears only appears to be silly – he's actually just pressing down too hard on the back of the chair in front of him
- we have two distinct rows of boys and two rows of girls, except for the boy in the lower right – what's with that, Mrs. Sacks/Sachs?
- aenthal has the look of a bright kid, wise beyond her years

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