I loved the sixth grade, not as much as I loved my fifth grade but still it was one of my favorite school years. I had a great set of friends that I would hang out with and I had my favorite teacher, Ms. Archer, for my second year in a row. Unfortunately this would be my last joyous school year until my sophomore year in high school. I get my fifth and sixth grade mixed up since I had the same teacher and I cannot remember when I got my ukulele. I think it was during my fifth grade but I cannot be sure. I will have to cover my uke days in a separate blog.
The last year of those good times. I am on the last row, 2nd from the right. Next to me is Neil. Alvin is the third from the left on the back row. Tammy is right below me in the white shirt and Eulilia was the second person from the left on the 2nd row. Alison, the girl I was cruel too is the fourth from the left on the front row.
Sixth grade impacted me quite a bit. There was stuff that I learned and did in the sixth grade that altered my life forever.
I had a new music teacher this year that was completely different from any other music teacher that I had before. Her name was Ms. Oskin and she was so kind and gentle but also very passionate about music. I remember listening to her intently since she had such a unique accent. I remember her class fondly, she would take each of us aside and teach us how to match notes with the piano. She told me many times that I had a natural talent in music, that I could easily follow music by ear. She also introduced me to the Beatles. We sang a couple of Beatles songs in class and she really showed why we should appreciate their music. It made me a fan and I was happy that my sister Jennifer had a tape of their greatest hits.
In the sixth grade I also flexed my writing muscles more and took my creative writing a lot more serious. We had various assignments but my favorite was "Teacher for a Day". We would write a story about us subbing our classroom for a day. I was already familiar with how it worked since I did one the year before. But this time I really wanted to knock this one out of the park. I worked hard on my story and Ms. Archer was very proud of my effort. She said it was one of the best stories she had read and was much better than last year's. It was the sixth grade where I really got the writing bug.
Ms. Archer was not afraid to tell me when I was too negative or a little out of hand. She mentions this for each of the three terms. I certainly don't see myself as being outspoken.
I also created my first comic book in the sixth grade. It was based on a DC character called Red Tornado, in fact it was a pure ripoff of the Red Tornado. I developed two six-panel pages and did an old-fashioned Flash Gordon-type ending. Ms. Archer liked them so much that she kept them so she could show them as examples to her new students the next year. Looking back, I wish I had kept them but I was very proud that she wanted to keep them. That character I created still exists although everything about him has changed except for his costume.
One of the biggest influences on my life happened when I met Neil White. I had already been reading GI Joe and Transformers comic books but Neil introduced me to the X-Men and the larger Marvel Universe. Ms. Archer allowed us to read comics while it was reading time and we often would trade comics. Neil gave me a ton of comics to read including the Amazing Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men and many others. And I was hooked for life. I still read these books.
My first issue of Uncanny X-Men. I had no clue what was going on but I knew I liked it. I quickly bought up a bunch of back issues all the way back to #177.
This is Uncanny X-Men #525. So that means I have 348 issues in a row of this series.
So if you want to blame anyone for my comic
addiction obsession, blame Neil.
I read (Ms Archer would read to us) one of my favorite books during this year called the White Mountains. We enjoyed that book so much that we read the entire Tripod Trilogy in class. When I moved to the States years later I found these books sold as a set in Waldenbooks and I was so excited to sit down and read them again and it took me right back to the sixth grade. I really should dig those out again.
This was also the last year that I participated in the Canadian Fitness Program. I disliked the running portion so I purposefully sat out which didn't make Ms. Archer happy. I still was awarded the Bronze so at least I had the whole set.
I was also very oblivious to girls. Sure I had my usual crushes but I had no idea that girls would like me. One girl had a tremendous crush on me and I didn't like her back. I was very cruel to her and if my son Logan did this to a girl, I would smack the living crap out of him for doing so. I feel bad about it now but back then I was just trying to save my life.
Ms. Archer didn't like me chatting so much with Brad and Neil so she moved me in front of Tammy which was right in front of Ms. Archer's desk. She was another girl that had a crush on me and I of course, had no clue. We would talk all the time during class and we became good friends. Alvin and Eulalia joined us and we called our group Snausages. Don't ask why. We were really good friends and we did a ton of stuff together during recess. Tammy and I shared Soap Candies and oftentimes during reading time we would find dirty words in the dictionary and share them and giggle. Tammy and I each had a pet rubber mouse that lived in our desks.
Ms. Archer knew that Tammy liked me. When I got permission to move my desk back near Neil and Brad she told me in confidence that Tammy liked me quite a bit. I played stupid (which was not hard since I really was when it came to the female species) and ignored her. Why would Tammy ruin a friendship by liking me?
And sure enough I got this note a few days later.
The reason the note is crinkled is because I immediately crumpled it up and threw it away. But then part of my was intrigued. So I got it out of the trash can, ran home after school and called my best friend Alvin and told him everything. Even though the note in plain English told me not to tell Alvin. I guess I didn't read it that closely. I kept the note because this was the first time that a girl I liked admitted that she liked me too. There may have been other girls that liked me that I liked but they wouldn't admit it. As you can see, I never answered and I never went on that date. Looking back, I should've just gone. Tammy was a hoot to be around but I guess I was not ready. So not only am I a little stupid, I am also a little chicken when it comes to girls.