Nonfiction from Ruth Anne (Smyth) Reagan

In the autumn there is a special quality of the air, a certain blueness of the clear sky, a unique shininess of the pavement in the rain, that bring back feelings from long ago about the starting of school. From the first day I went, clutching my box of Crayolas, to this very September, as I watch my grandchildren prepare for the Grand Day, there is a feeling of excitement within me. More than at New Year’s I want to make resolutions and organize my life better. I am annually full of optimism that I will be better, and this will be a good year.

In my mind I see the image of a small girl, for whom this is the greatest adventure of her life. I see her skipping down the street in a new plaid dress, hurrying over the sidewalks of slate and concrete. It is a long walk, nearly a mile, and it is early, too early to walk with her mother, who had to be at work in the Post Office at eight, and much too early to ride with helpful neighbors who will drive their children and others to school. She is eager to be one of the first children on the playground, and she is bursting with pride at being allowed to begin each day with the privilege of walking to school by herself.

Of course that child is I, six years old. I loved that walk, every inch of it, going by the big houses with stone retaining walls, by the churches, over the bridge, past the wreckage of the summer’s flood, past Shelansky’s candy store, and then coming in sight of the solid brick wing of the building where I attended first grade. Beside the thrill of seeing the school there was also a little panic, for my teacher was Miss Florence Malone, the Terror.


To read this entire story, pick up Issue Five of Bluff & Vine at Longs’ Cards and Books in Penn Yan, or by visiting

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