The day after Labor Day in 1938, I began my education by entering old Raschig School in downtown Cincinnati.  I’m sure Mother must have pointed out the school to me many times before I started the first grade there.  It was just across Central Parkway from our first floor two-room apartment on Elm Street.  If we were standing on the street or even sitting on the front stoop, we would have been able to see the big red brick building and the heavy iron fence that surrounded it.

I remember the dress I wore on my first day of school because a picture had been taken the day before at the County Fair in Dayton, Ohio.  My grandma had bought it for me – a yellow silk dress with brown velvet ribbons and a full circle accordion pleated skirt.  This was before World War II when silk was the fabric of choice for special occasions.


I can remember Mother walking with me to my first day at Raschig and then suddenly being gone.  I don’t recall being particularly happy or unhappy – I was just there.  Because I hadn’t been to kindergarten, they put me in a class with kids who needed to be evaluated.  The teacher was a middle-aged lady and not particularly friendly  Soon after I arrived,  I noticed kids were passing around food for our mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.  One bowl held the most gorgeous purple plums.  I don’t believe I had ever seen plums before.  I asked the teacher if I could pass the plums and she was very brusque and said the children were chosen ahead of time and to go sit down.

Luckily, I left her class within a couple of weeks and had Mrs. Clark and a young student teacher who were wonderful.  I remember struggling with reading – it didn’t seem to make sense and then one day it all came together and I never had any problems after that.  I also struggled a little to make the cursive letters that spelled out Lillian.  We never did learn to print but went into handwriting immediately.

I looked forward to the stories the teacher read to us – “Lazy Liza Lizard”, “The Three Bears”, and particularly “Little Black Sambo” because I loved the description of the butter and the pancakes.

Ours was an inner city school but during the housing shortage of those war years there were many middle-class people living in the area with children going to Raschig.  Kids like Rollo, a black boy who always wore stylish knickers and argyle knee socks and appeared to come from a well-to-do family as well as a girl named Mary Jane and another girl named Patty Lou (double names were big in the 1930s).  Our family was about middle-ground economically – there were kids much poorer – Dorothy, Mary Lou, and poor Otto, a raggedy boy whose shoe soles flapped as he walked.


This was a Valentine I designed one year to show Rollo, Otto and myself in our classroom


Those Raschig years were good for me – I did well in school, the teachers seemed pleased with my work, I thought most of the kids liked me, nobody bothered me except for teasing occasionally about my long finger curls and I never took that seriously.  When I was 9 years old, I jotted down a poem about school starting again at old Raschig.   I never did outgrow my love of school.

Poem by Lillian (9 years old) – August, 1942

I love to go to school
And see the teachers dear
There to teach us children
All through the year.

I love to go to school
To learn to write and read
And there to learn to be
Very good indeed.

I love to go school
Because it’s so much fun
For when I have gym
I sometimes get to run.

I love to go to school
Way up into June
For you see I am so anxious
School will be starting soon.

In autumn when the leaves are falling
We hear the children’s voices calling
I think how glad they must be
To go to school the same as me.