Featured Item: Mission Ribbon Lamp, Blue/Green
Article: Attending School in the 1950s as I Remember It.
FALL 2021 NEWSLETTER
My boy is back in school.
It’s fall and students are back in school. Today it’s Covid; in my day in the early 1950s it was the fear of polio and communism. Polio was eventually eradicated after thousands of school kids lined up to get the new polio vaccine.
As for communism, I remember coming home from school one day and shouting, “Ma - my teacher is a communist!” Being in the 3rd grade in 1951, I had no idea what that meant but somehow, I knew it was not good. That was the gossip going around in my school, PS 74, in The Bronx - that one of the teachers was a communist. Other than my proclamation, grownups got the full sensational news either from newspapers, radios, or movie house newsreels as not many households had TVs back then.
Scroll down to the Article section and continue reading about my school adventures 60+ years ago. Be sure to check out our beautiful Mission desk lamp in the Featured Item section.
Enjoy our Fall Newsletter!
Note: Each item presented is a one-of-a-kind work of art available for purchase. Should any item sell, there are no duplicates.
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Mission Ribbon Table Lamp,
A great desk lamp for back-to-school studies!
This Mission style pattern with its prominent twisty ribbon design is loosely based on the organic shapes of the famous Scots Arts & Crafts designer...
ATTENDING SCHOOL IN THE 1950'S THE WAY I REMEMBER IT
Back To School
Returning to school in the fall was always exciting. Kids were done with the standard 3-month long, June to September, summer vacation. Likewise, parents were glad to get rid of the kids.
Returning to school meant buying new school clothes. My mother would choose dresses for us three girls in plaids and fall colors. She purchased them from our neighbor, Mr. Roth, who like the rest of us in 1952, recently relocated from the big city with his young family to our new suburban community in Hicksville, Long Island, New York. Mr. Roth peddled to all the neighborhood housewives bringing a nice selection of wares that any G.I. government-loan household would need. In fact, my mother hung the whole house with venetian blinds she purchased from Mr. Roth. When school started, neighborhood kids got their hair cut from Mr. Roth. People were resourceful in those days.
After school it was customary for us kids to change out of our school clothes and into our play clothes.
The Calcagni sisters posing in our new back-to-school dresses. (I am the eldest). Hicksville, Long Island, N.Y. 1953
My mother sent me to school with 75 cents lunch money for the week and 2 cents daily, milk money
1953 - Thursdays were designated as Assembly Day which was held a few times during the school year. It took place in the school auditorium for announcements and entertainment for the students. We were required to attend assembly wearing a white blouse with a large red satin bow for the girls and a red tie for the boys. I remember how important it was to remind my mother when Assembly Day was near, least we both forget, and I came to school wearing the wrong outfit. Oh, no!
Our American Flag
Students didn’t dare talk back to the teachers. Most teachers were proper, single women whom society labeled as “Old Maids”.
I remember when the Pledge of Allegiance was modified. It was in June of 1954. I was in the 6th grade when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill into law that added the words, “under God” to the pledge which students recited to our American flag every morning before the day’s classes began. I heard the new words as being “under guard, for Richard Stands” which I dutifully recited many school-year mornings.
In 1954 desks still had inkwells. Girls sitting in front of boys risked having their pigtails dipped in ink. In springtime I would pick lily of the valleys and put them in the wells to watch the blue ink slowly travel upward, tracing the flowers’ veins until their little bells turned completely blue. It was a scientific phenomenon.
In grammar school we had music day with the visiting music teacher. The class sang the usual, “I’ve been working on the railroad” and “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain when she comes” Toot, Toot! - good old traditional American songs. But I always wondered who Dinah was when the verse changed to “someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo”.
In 1955, 7th grade, we had dance class day in the gymnasium. We learned square dancing, the foxtrot, and the waltz. Very grown-up. However, that meant students had to hold hands and boys’ hands were usually clammy. Ewww, gross!
I liked the weekly art class with the visiting art teacher best of all. It suited me.
Pencil sketch of Burt Lancaster.
13 yrs. old, 7th grade. 1955
Then there was the winter, white-out snow days. Long Island got hit especially hard. Radios announced all schools were closed. Yippee!! We were trapped inside at home for who knows how long - maybe years! So, we put on our multi layered snow suits, went outside, and came right back in. Then we blasted the latest 78 hit record on our new, blond wood Hi Fi. set, “That’s Alright Mama” sung by Elvis Presley. Drove my mother crazy.
Vietnamese boy. Oils.
15 yrs. old. 9th grade,1957
Bedouin Lady. Watercolor.
12 yrs. old, 6th grade.1954
High school report cards. Grades 10th, 11th, & 12th.
Always highest grade in art.
In high school,1958-1960, girls took secretarial classes with emphasis on shorthand and typing. Boys didn’t type in those days. They took shop class or studied to become bosses. Today everyone types - with their thumbs. Our, (old maid), typing teacher instructed us girls to wear white gloves and make sure the seams of our stockings were straight when applying for secretarial jobs. Blah! I didn’t want to become a secretary. I wanted to find romance and adventure on the high seas, just like in the movies. I especially felt the calling when springtime came around and the trees were blooming and the birdies were chirping, I stared out the classroom window and would be a million miles away. “Three Coins in a Fountain…”
Of course, there were the other students who took college preparation classes. They were the sensible civic minded ones, your class presidents, your popular cheer leaders, teachers’ helpers, debaters, acted in the school musicals, etc. Those girls wore twin sweater sets with pearls; hair coiffed either in a ponytail tied with a bow or rolled under; lips accented with Tangee lipstick, “the orange lipstick that goes on clear and gradually transforms into the perfect pink shade for you.”
High school newspaper. P.S. I am not in any of these photos.
Black dress fashion design. Watercolors.
17 yrs. old. 11th grade, 1959
High School Graduation – at last
As you probably deduced by now school was not my favorite occupation. I was primarily interest in art and in becoming a fashion designer. So, after high school graduation in 1960 I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and studied art history and costume design. I loved it. My father was not too happy about this “art business”. He predicted I would be selling pencils on the street. I should get a “real job” or better yet, get married. Let me outta here!!
My high school graduation photo. 1960
My student work at The Fashion Institute of Technology, Manhattan, N.Y.
19 yrs. old.1961
By the time I moved to San Francisco in 1971 to continue my college courses my fellow students were now hippies and protesters. All 1950s school propriety went out the window. But the good news was, two-year junior colleges were free to residents and four-year state colleges cost approximately $75.00 a full semester.
So, in between romances and adventures, I earned an A.A. degree from Manatee Jr. College, Florida; B.A. degree from San Francisco State College; and a B.S. degree from San Jose University, graduating in1975 with majors in art and interior design.
However, the gods had something else in mind for me - stained glass, (who knew?), which has been my profession for the past 50 years. But that is another story.
My Adult Art Works
Posing with my sister, Ginger, at one of my graduations, San Francisco State College. 1973.
Commissioned business card logo for a veterinarian specializing in geriatric pet care.
Baby Lorena seriously at the easel. Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
2 1/2 years old,1944
A home gallery of my art.
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Mission Table Lamp , Blue Green