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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



All this discussion about the funding for pre-school programs in the state of Iowa, a program which I whole heartedly support, has started my brain wandering down memory lane again to my own time in preschool nearly thirty-five years ago.

Things were different back then. The big multi-story brick schoolhouse still stood on the north end of Marshall street in Dexter keeping silent watch over the north side of town and the comings and goings along the main drag which was full of businesses. It would only stand a few years more before being replaced by the current building and although it was brand new, by the time I was ready for Kindergarten we were shipped off to Redfield to learn from Mrs. Bowers all the important things in life. Of course, this was a time when the cookie bucket, an old Gold Meadow Ice Cream pail, made its way home with each of us to be filled and brought back in for milk and nap time and I don’t ever remember that bucket coming to school with any cookie that was wrapped or prepackaged.

Kindergarten was half days back then as well and I being a morning kid rode the bus to Redfield with all the big kids in the morning then back home on the lunch bus, which was a smaller bus that had the back seats taken out in order for the cooks to load the big metal containers in it to take the lunch to the Dexter building…but before I get to far ahead of myself this was supposed to be about preschool.

Being a farm kid, preschool was a really eye awakening experience for me. It was that first day that I learned there were other kids in the world outside of the cousins, the Simons and Emehiser kids and the kids I saw playing with Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. There were about a dozen of us in school, the little brown…or maybe it was green garage sized building behind Mrs. Garwood’s house on Barton Street.

It was an amazing place full of books and colors and letters and all sorts of fun and interesting things to learn about. The memories of that time are a little faded after all these years, but I remember well how much that time formulated my love of reading and how after all these years when I see Mrs. Garwood I can’t help but think of playing hot potato. I had never seen anything like it before! This plastic hot potato that you would wind up and pass around in a hectic mashing of small fingers before it buzzed violently and you were called out of the game.

I remember trips to the farms, including visiting my grandparents to see the baby chickens and being completely amazed that the “townies” had never seen baby chicks before! It was there that I found the start of May Baskets traditions, getting to know the kids who would go on to Kindergarten with me, and the place where, even today, when I drive by I tell my kids… “that’s where I went to preschool”.

Those were good years and I met some great people in that time. For any of us who forgot to tell her over the years, Dana, or Amy, Paula or Eric or myself…Thanks Mrs. Garwood for teaching us to dream big, giving us the foundation for our early years, and reminding us that when the potato is hot…pass it quickly to the right.

See you next week…Remember, we’re all in this together.