Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Easthaven Baptist School: a few memories

In the early days if your family lived on the south east side of Houston and they wanted you to go to kindergarten close by, the go-to choice was Easthaven Baptist School. 

Just up the Gulf Freeway one exit, at Edgebrook, it offered half day kindergarten for scads of early South Belt residents before they entered elementary school. The photo above was posted on the FB Easthaven Alumni page. It's a class of kindergarten students from 1961. 

Since the Herman Head building (the oldest) was dedicated in 1959, I'm guessing this is one of the first groups the school had. 

(Next 8 photos are from the Easthaven Alumni page)

The Chapel

The cafeteria, in later days

these stairs in the old building by the chapel show up in my dreams

between the cafeteria building and the kindergarten building

the gym: home to the annual dreaded Square Dancing Unit and merciless dodgeball, among other activities

Fast forward 15 years from that early class photo, and Easthaven was still putting on the annual Thanksgiving play when I was the first grader. We didn't have any cowboys or soldiers by that time, though. You were either a pilgrim or an indian.

The funny thing is, I can name more than half of these kids' names, even now . Top row from left I can spot Stephanie, Keir, Robert, Bob, Shiela, ?, Jason, and Me. Middle is Mary far left and Peter in the center (I always had a crush on Peter. He was groovy.) And front row, there's Sandy, ? Chantelle, ?, ?, Pricilla, and Shannon. Most of these kids I only had class with a few times. How does that happen?

Okay, everybody was a pilgrim or an indian, unless you were Chris. 
And there's Mrs. Head on the piano, our endlessly patient music teacher

And, when I think back to my days at Easthaven, from kindergarten through the sixth grade, substantially longer than most kids attended, I am struck by how our years revolved around school plays. We seemingly had them for everything! 

First grade Easter show, with Mrs. Tulloch (and Peter is right behind moi)

We also had Mrs. Dora Guerra, our Spanish teacher who came in once a week for lessons. 

We had a big show for the Bicentennial, too:

And by the 4th grade, we were just having them for the heck of it. 
It was "Free to Be You and Me" the musical.

These became pretty elaborate spectacles. Above is Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Head, music teachers, and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Upshaw, far right. (That's me as a firefly!) Note all the costumes. 

My last year, for the Christmas program, we did the Grady Nutt (he of Hee-Haw fame) Parable of the Christmas Story, complete with talking camels. Man, I wanted that male camel part. I got stuck in the angel chorus. Hmph. I was a grumpy angel.

My very last semester the new worship building was finally finished, and we debuted The Grady Nutt Parable: Daniel and the Lion's Den 

(I was Daniel as well a the narrator. The music program was gender-bending way ahead of its time in 1982.) 

The dancing lions were the scene stealers, though. 

There were plenty of other memories to go around, besides the show numbers, but those productions seem to mark off the years in ways nothing else did. 

About three years ago, recovering from surgery, I wrote this long post about Easthaven on my personal blog where there a quite a few more pictures included. I don't think I realized then how many people from my neighborhood had attended Easthaven, at least for kindergarten, when I wrote that post.

Since then, this is the only photo I've come across so far with an infamous Easthaven bus. Of course, it's in black and white, so you don't get the full effect of whatever custom color it was painted. These ranged from your basic tan to baby blue to light green to vaguely pinkish red.  The insides were fitted with four wooden benches running the length of the van and comfortable size for no one over the age of five.

And since then, sadly, Mrs. Mary Miles has passed on. Mrs. Miles was a mainstay at Easthaven. She taught there for decades before becoming principal. She was my toughest teacher, not putting up with any nonsense, but also with that twinkle in her eye that let you know she wasn't beyond a little mischief in the right doses at the right times. According to her obituary, she served 45 years, easily enough time to see one generation grow up to raise another. For you, Mrs. M.. 

(Of all the class photos shared on the Easthaven site, guess who pops up the most?)

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