Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grammar School Graduation

We last saw CAMZ at grammar school in a one-room schoolhouse in South Wales, Erie County, New York.  She finished at a grammar school in the Buffalo school system: Lincoln School, Number 44, "P.S. 44,"  founded in 1889.  It is still there, on Broadway, and is called "Lincoln Academy, P.S. 44."

Clara was 14 years old in 1943. 

Of course the program opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.  I confess to shock and surprise the first time I went to a modern-day graduation and those two never happened, and there was no US flag in sight. Since then, the shock and surprise have dissipated to a deep, slow burn.

Check out the "Class of 1943 Dedication" on this page:

Click to enlarge.  Yes, you can see it was a Polish neighborhood.  But they did not study the Polish language in the public school.  Her parents were also firm and specific:  Polish at home, English at school.  And study.  Learn two languages and learn them well.

Our favorite Lincoln student received the Eighth Grade Honorable mention for the Jesse Ketchum award for scholarship, attendance, and deportment.

I like the variety in these "Achievements."  I note also the separate awards for boys and girls in the Fifth and Sixth Grade Speaking Contest.  That sure looks quaint now;  what would be the point of that, anyway?  I suppose it was based on an assumption that boys and girls would never address similar subjects, and so there would be but poor basis for comparison and assessment.  Some things have improved.

When I read the lyric to "Land of Mine," a melody starts up in my head.  What is it?  Wait for it . . . Yes!  "Yellow Rose of Texas."  No telling what it actually was.

Wonderful first verse, reminiscent of the sentiment in "God Bless America," the first verse of which goes "God Bless America, land of my birth,"  and the second verse of which starts off "God Bless America, land of my choice."  I've always loved that explicit recognition of old-timers and new immigrants as equal citizens expressing equal patriotism.  Here the lyricist Wilbur D. Nesbit caught it all in the first stanza.

3595 is a medal number;  44 is the school.  What's in the box?

"The Public Schools of Buffalo, N.Y."

"Jesse Ketchum 1782-1867."  Ketchum was a successful Canadian tanner who immigrated to the USA and moved his tannery from Ontario to Buffalo in 1845.  He donated much of his wealth to Buffalo schools, and sponsored these medals, which have been awarded since 1873.

"DEDIT DEUS DISCIPLINAM" literally means "God gave instruction," but the actual sentiment we would express as "Learning is a gift from God," or "Education is a blessing."

Who is the figure? Buffalo is the "Queen City;" is she the figure of the City of Buffalo? What is the crowned blob on her shield?  The laurel leaf is bestowed on the head of the victorious graduate, but what is she placing in his hand? Duh, the medal, most likely. The book on his knee is recognizeable, but what is the thing the student is holding on the open pages? A quill?

"W&C Barber" refer to William and Charles Barber, who were the U.S. Mint engravers who did the engraving for these medals.

The descendants of Jesse Ketchum founded Ketchum Manufacturing.  Cattle all over the US have metal eartags made by Ketchum.  I've been putting them in cows' ears for over thirty years without realizing the connection.

My Mom never came on a farm call with me.  But I feel more connected to Mom, now that I know that I have given out hundreds?  thousands? of Jesse Ketchum cow medals, of a sort, myself. 


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