School bells are ringing. Class is in session. Back-to-school mode is still kicking in. Back-to-school nights have welcomed parents back to the school halls. And, for some, it’s about taking a walk back to their own school days in the same place — like Knollwood School.
Knock-kneed, nervous and all dressed up with somewhere to go, this gaggle Fair Haven neighborhood girls of 1965 lined up so their moms could get that classic first-day-of-kindergarten shot. And there wasn’t a smile among them.
Recent talk about kids moving on up to full-day school and into middle school from elementary prompted a look back to what Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect thought was the first kindergarten class in Fair Haven at Knollwood School.
It turns out that we were wrong. Many people responded saying that they had attended kindergarten at Knollwood and what was Willow Street School in those earlier years.
We’re not sure if it was that things got switched around a lot back in the late 1950s and into the mid- to late-60s or if, perhaps, it was the morning classes that attended Knollwood and Willow Street or the kids were just split among classes due to that Baby Boom, but we do know that there was a rope and kids were walked to kindergarten at the Youth Center in the borough in 1965-66.
So, the Retro Pic of the Day is a look back at that afternoon kindergarten class to which yours truly, your editor, was toted daily at the tender young age of 5. Yikes.
There are a few familiar faces in this photo. Some are still in the area. One is a popular funeral director. Another just recently wrote a book and has a younger brother who is a popular landscaper/photographer.
Oh, and the teachers were Mrs. Oliverson and Mrs. Wikoff (sp?).
It was the very first day of school — for kindergarteners. It was also a finale year. That class was the last of all that walked on a rope to the Youth Center (now Fair Haven Community Center downstairs and the police station upstairs).
While classmates were remembered, the identity of the official lady tugging that rope was not.
So, as an ode to that woman, who was eventually remembered as Mary McDaniel, the Retro Pic of the Day is another look, from the archives of the Red Bank Register, of that kindergarten class walk, headed by Mc Daniel.
“But I don’t wanna walk on the rope next to her!” I cried from under my fresh-cut kindergarten bangs. “I wanna walk on the rope next to Pam!”
Pam was my neighbor. She was my best buddy.
It was 1965. Our Fair Haven kindergarten class was the last to have its first year of school at what was called the Youth Center, now the Fair Haven Police Station and Community Center on Fisk Street.
We kindergarteners were also the last to be tugged down the street on a rope, yes a rope, headed by an official-looking police-type lady.
I forget what her name was, but she scared the bejesus out of us, especially a determined mini me. No, not much has changed.
However, that rope would have probably somehow been considered inhumane now, I’m thinking. Hey, they needed to keep us walking in tow.
And, guess what? They did, despite the fact that this one little girl’s small world was turned topsy turvy because she couldn’t walk next to Pam.
There were loops for our little hands to grasp onto on either side of the rope.
You see, no one drove anyone to school then.
You could say that we were more environmentally conscious. Or you could just say that we were probably poorer. Simple.
No one drove kids to school, mostly because there was only one car per family. There was no Third Street congestion problem. Nope.
Granted, a lot of moms stayed home. And when the dads went to work, unless they worked close enough to come home for lunch, mom didn’t have a car until after 5 p.m.
If moms worked, dads dropped them off and picked them up or vice versa. A lucky few had two cars. So, needless to say, the transportation for kids was that rope. That lady picked us all up, as I recall, on Hance Road somewhere.
That rope — well, that was our kiddie bus. And we liked it — sorta. We just had to.
This 1965 kindergarten class in the Retro Pic of the Day was the last to take the daily rope trek to the Youth Center.
Front and center in this photo, taken by the family of Diane Smith Carmona, are Frank Buchanan and Bobby McLellan. They’re holding the loops, but not looking all too pleased about it. I’m pitching a fit somewhere in the back. School days, rope days …
Imagine that. Mommy drops you off at the rope, not the bus, and you have to walk to school next to someone you didn’t know until the first day of school?
Oh, the trauma of it all. I guess they thought we’d be trouble makers. I wasn’t even allowed to sit near Pam in class!
Whaaaaaaa! How was your child’s first day without a rope?
With all this talk about the little tykes transitioning from third to fourth grade, school being out for summer and, well, of course, graduation, there’s one milestone that’s been left out — kindergarten.
Back in the day — OK, waaaaay back in the day — there was a third school in Fair Haven for kindergarten. It was the Youth Center. People now know it better as the Fair Haven Police Station and by its newly adopted name that hasn’t quite caught on yet, and may never for us “older” folks still in town — Fair Haven Community Center. Phooey to that. Some things just need to keep a name for nostalgic purposes alone.
Our Retro Pic of the Day takes you back to the days of Kindergarten classes at what was called the Youth Center in Fair Haven.
Kids were walked on a rope — yes, a rope — led by an official looking crossing guard-type person to the classroom which was where the police station is now. (We’ll get to the rope another time.)
This shot, circa 1965, features some kids who are still in the area, if not Fair Haven itself.
One is a well-known funeral director (front, left), another is your own Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect founding editor (front right, sort of), another has a mom who still lives in town and a brother who is a well-known area photographer and landscaper, and, yet another, was an impressive athlete growing up and is still in town.
Take your guesses. And, please feel free to send us your retro photos, credit included, at firstname.lastname@example.org.