When IFO was a kid, she couldn’t wait for school to start back up. Summer was so boring. There was nothing to do except explore the desert flora and fauna, play in the little pond under the water cooler, skate, play jacks with her cousin, and do housework.
Housework? Yes, didn’t you do housework? Even as a 2nd grader, she hung diapers on the clothesline and swept the kitchen floor.
Actually, sweeping the floor was fascinating. She always took ages doing it, not only because Mother was a perfectionist (“There’s sand in that corner over there!”), but because she wanted to see if she could EVER get ALL the sand swept up at one time. Answer: no.
So, in spite of the fact that her Hispanic schoolmates refused to speak to her (she learned later it was because they hadn’t mastered English, yet. Who knew?) and that it was so hot outside that crayons melted in the road if she dropped her little box of eight Crayolas, she really looked forward to starting back to school.
Oh, those Hispanic schoolmates? Their grandparents were born in New Mexico before it became a state in 1912! In fact, the first Europeans to settle in what is now New Mexico were Spaniards, who came in 1545.
And, Santa Fe? “Constructed in 1610, the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe is the oldest seat of government in the United States.” That’s before Yale (1701) and Harvard (1636) were founded!
Too bad IFO’s mother didn’t know that. She viewed our neighbors as “foreigners,” and spoke to them slowing in a loud voice, as if they were slow-witted.
Of course, they looked at us the same way and gave us names. They called us “Anglos” to be polite, and some other words that were not so polite. We didn’t have names for them, except not-polite ones, which IFO can’t repeat here.
Interestingly, all of our teachers were Anglos. How did that happen? All the political and commercial power was Hispanic. We were told in fifth grade (1950) that we all had to be bilingual if we wanted a job in our town of Las Cruces.
As a result, ALL of us had to take English and Spanish. The English speakers all had both classes together, and the Spanish speakers did, too. Hence, all were literate in their mother tongue as well as the second language.
Many, if not most, of the Anglos were refugees from the Great Depression (Arkansas and Oklahoma, mostly), who hadn’t made it to California yet. Mother viewed them as foreigners as well, since they couldn’t pronounce common English words “properly.”
What the heck was “harall?”* What civilized person would EVER say “ain’t” or “he don’t?” They did. In this case she was right, they were foreigners speaking, as IFO’s husband explained years later, an English dialect.
Years later, IFO read in quite proper English novels of the 1800s, proper English aristocrats saying “ain’t.” Wow! Who knew? And what arbiter of American English decreed that “ain’t” was verboten?
Oops, excuse us for using a foreign word. We meant “forbidden.” American English is so hard. We have so many foreign words: rodeo, arena, salsa (both food and dance!), bouquet, banquet, ballet… to name just a few.
We kind of got off track. Our original question was: where did the idea that kids don’t like going back to school get started?
I googled that question and… Google didn’t have an answer!!!
*”harall” = hair oil in Arkansas or Oklahoma dialect. Said pronunciation was a source of much laughter inside our family circle.