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Michael Rustad's Memories


1st Grade, 1955 and Memories of ElementarySchool

April 12, 1999


In the Fall of 1955, I began first grade at Humboldt schoolwhich was the beginning of a long educational career. I entered the firstgrade with much anticipation sporting my first pair of horned rim glassesand new clothes from Sears Roebuck. Decades later I do not have fond memoriesof my first grade experience. I enjoyed seeing my friends and students inthe older grades. However, I did not have an auspicious beginning to myacademic career.

I eventually received my bachelor's degree, master's degree,doctorate, degree, Juris doctorate degree and masters of law at Harvard.I went from Humboldt to Harvard.

My first grade teacher was Gertrude Alstead. Ms. Alsteadtwas in the twilight of her teaching career and had little patience for myslow start in academia. I made my number 4s backwards and could not seemto get the knack. Another problem was that I was a left hander and Mrs.Alstead forced me to become a right hander.

One of my most vivid memories of first grade was beinglocked in the cloakroom for some infraction. I actually enjoyed the cloakroombecause it had quite a wide variety of toys. Another memory was that I thoughtthat I could finally get on the good side of Ms. Alstead by bringing anapple for her. My Mother did not have any apples on hand but she did havesome bananas that were on the ripe side. I decided to bring a banana forthe teacher. What a disaster that was. I was going to give Ms. Alstead thebanana to begin the day but somehow it slipped my mind. As she was givingus instruction on reading, I began looking at the banana and unpeeling itever so slightly. I soon had consumed about half of the banana and therewere little fruit flies circling my desk. What began as a good intentionended with me going to the cloakroom. To add insult to injury, Ms. Alsteadthrew the rest of her banana in the trash.

The second most mortifying incident with Ms.Alsteadt occurredin art class. We were all going to make calendars by sewing a half of apaper plate to a full plate and then decorating the plate with our lovelydrawings. I had difficulty sewing the plates together and my productionskills were rather weak. I used too many heavy purples and browns and mydrawings looked rather like Rohrschach blots gone awry. Ms Alstead toldme that my project was a disgrace and refused to hang it up with my classmates'artwork. Ms. Alstead told me that she expected that my mother would neverdisplay my artwork up either. She was right. My mother immediately placedmy artwork in my scrapbook which I have saved to this very day. My mother,of course, had many lyrical compliments about my artwork but technicallynever displayed it.

My classmates during the Fall of 1955 will vouch for mewhen I say that I probably had the messiest desk in the history of Humboldtschool.

My first grade classmates were Jan Armstrong, Ron Baldwin,Judy Burton, Allan Cleem, Becky Clow, Marlys Diamond, Sandra Finney, RalphGiffen, Earl Hunt, Linda McAdams, Jerry Olsonawski, Larry Olsonawski, PeterTri, Carolyn Wiese and Clara Twamley. In those days, St. Vincent had a separate1st grade and those students joined us after the elementary grades. MarthaCalson, Carl Seed, and Wonda Hosch were students of Belle Gregoire.

Mrs. Gregoire was a friend of my family and quite a goodfirst grade teacher. My second grade teacher was taught by Ms. Mabel Eversand I do not have many happy memories of that year either.

My favorite elementary teacher was Mrs. Dale Finney Miller.Mrs. Finney understood how to relate to a class and was the first teacherto reach me. I still remember how she instilled a love of learning. Oneof my most vivid memories was of the SRA reading program. I can still rememberthe colors attached to the different levels of attainment. I believe thatI was able to attain the purple level. I enjoyed a great deal of athleticsuccess in the fifth and sixth grade. However, Mrs. Finney always emphasizedthat athletics were to be balanced with academics.

Our fifth grade teaam won the trophy for the tournamentsponsored by the Humboldt community club. Ron Baldwin, Ralph Giffen, GaleHare, Glenn Odberg, Dan Ingeman were on the 5th grade championship team.We were even better the year before when Dean Ritter (later to star at UND)was on our team, the Humboldt Pups. I helped to organize challenge gameswith each of the grades. Our Fourth Grade team regularly beat the FifthGrade team and even beat the Sixth Grade team several times. We had uniformsthat consisted of white t-shirts with shoe polish numerals.

We also had our cheerleaders for the Pups: Renee Jerome,Clara Twamly, Marlys Diamond, and Judy Burton

I am sorry to report that Judy Burton and Earl Hunt, dearclassmates, have died recently.

to report that Judy Burton and Earl Hunt, dearclassmates, have died recently.