The “Hippie Farm”
I grew up on a hippie farm called “Pleasant View.” Not the pot-smoking kind… the Christian kind… I went to school in a one-room school-house, went to church, and lived on the same 17 acres with a community of other Jesus-hippies. My mom had hair down to the back of her knees, Dad was a carpenter and built our house with his bare hands, and we even sewed some of our own clothes! It was the 80’s but we were basically were still living in some form of the 70’s. Saturday was community work-day, Sunday was church… like, all day church… complete with potlucks. Monday, it was back to my cubicle-desk in the one-room schoolhouse…
Hippie school was no ordinary school… Imagine one large room filed with about 20 double cubicle-like desks. Hard to explain, but you’re doubled up with another student facing each other, but there is a wall between you and walls on your right and left. Three walls of cherry-stained OSB board, and a stack of “self-paced” schoolwork. (Not exactly the kind of environment an ADD kid thrives in!) Every day we had chapel complete with manifold acoustic guitars and singing… just imagine “Kumbayah” without the campfire. Then it was time to hit the books… cubicle time! I’m still a little bitter about the cubicles. :) Thanks to the older kids for teaching me how to tape a small pencil to the bottom of my red ink pen when it came time to “grade” my work at the “grading stations.” I literally learned nothing in the fourth grade. (Names have been withheld to protect the guilty)
Lunch… the bartering system was in full swing, unfortunately my mom was some sort of health-nut because every day was PB&J on whole wheat, plain pretzels, and some sort of vegetable or fruit. So while the Twinkies, Cheetos, and mini-pizzas were being traded around, during the pre-lunch barter, I was trying to pawn off my ants-on-a-log as celery covered in peanut butter and “chocolate chips.” One the highlights of lunch was watching my buddy Dan Jackson step on his peanut butter sandwich (in the bag) and fold it into one bite-size piece, cramming the entire thing in his mouth while we cheered for him. Or the time, Jennifer Schwartz and I convinced a girl that we had put meal worms from the science-fair project in her sandwich, prompting her to vomit on the spot.
Recess!… We spent half the time playing football and the other half watching our all-time team captains Timothy Schwartz and his brother Jonathan Schwartz argue about the play that just happened. I’ll never forget the time I split my lip open in the snow on the back of Andrew Hornblower’s boot trying to catch him on a b-line to the end-zone. Nobody could catch “wheels.” Then there was sledding… but not normal sledding… pirate-kill-or-be-killed rip the sled out from under your neighbor as they are careening over a four-foot ramp of ice… kind of sledding. Blood was split on those hills. Kickball, remember kickball? Here’s to hoping Chris Buscher is on your team to punt it deep into the outfield. Dodgeball, for which Jeanine Martin was all-time champion of the world and could rarely be beaten. Foosball, with that strict NO-SPINNING! rule that was always getting violated.
The Flag System
While sitting my cubicle, when I wanted to solicit the help of one of the teachers circulating around the room, I needed to hoist a small flag. A red flag for Mrs. Harriman, a dark blue flag for Mrs. Buscher, and either a light blue or a ‘starry’ flag for a trip to the bathroom. Now, the difference between whether or not you had a the coveted starry flag or the light blue flag was dependent on whether or not you had any “demerits” on your record for the week. The starry flag was for the goody-two-shoes students like Jeremiah Roberts and Beth Matthew, and school divas like Christy Martin, and the light blue flag was the ‘flag of shame’ for kids like me and David Johnson, who were continually collecting demerits like candy on Halloween. Many a detention spent with my head down on that green table (taking a nap).
The Spider Wars
What happens when you get a bunch of young boys near spider-infested woods? You end up with the spider wars… Spiders stored at your desk in empty Carmen cassette tape cases waiting for their moment to duel with another guy’s spider in the gladiator arena of a large Ball jar. For some reason I thought the fatter the spider, the better, but alas I was swiftly bested by Tim Johnson’s more nimble and deadly jumping spider. Maybe it had something to do with the Cert mint I was trying to feed my spider in preparation for his turn in the ring?
These are just a few of the memories I have from this hippie farm we called Pleasant View. I could go on about the time, in the first grade, when I was locked out of the bathroom, peed my pants and had to run home, or the time I hit Jeremiah Roberts in the head with a walnut, and got into trouble.
If you’re reading this, and you remember Pleasant View, share a story.