In which I am dragged from orbit, only to spiral to a rapid vaporous death into an engorged red sun.

“When I was a kid, I walked 20 miles to school *each* way through six-foot snowdrifts.” blah blah blah and isn’t there something about how it was uphill both ways?

When I was a *little* kid, I “ran like the Red Queen” to school at Lincoln Elementary. It was right across the street! “Stinkin’ Linkin” as I forget which jokester called it at one of the few high school reunions I’ve managed to get to. He was having a good time and he was funny and I laughed but, although I have some bad memories of Lincoln School, there were plenty of good times too and you just can’t beat being right next to the school. After all, the *playground* is there too and you can play there even when you aren’t in school.

Walking to the junior high (we only had one) and the first two years of high school could be an adventure. Nowadays, that walk for me happens quick as a wink. Back then, I dunno. I would start out at my house on Superior Street and walk down to Easterday (about six blocks) and wait (and sometimes wait and wait and wait) for my friend Helen to meet me there. We would walk a block over and cross the Johnston Street bridge and in another block and a half or so, we were there. I remember walking down there in -32 degree (Fahrenheit) weather and I remember walking through deep snow and I remember skittering along on a half-inch of ice. It was real fun when the water in the power canal was warmer than the air. Icy fog, anyone? Back then, I was wearing mini-skirts and garter belts to hold up my runny old nylon stockings. Cute? Not. Get a ride to school? Say what? Buses? The buses brought in the country kids. Anybody inside the city limits walked.

Oh yeah. You are wondering about why I stopped after the first two years of high school? No, I didn’t quit. Sheesh. That was the year that, after about a gazillion failed millages for a new high school, one finally passed and for the last two years of high school, I didn’t have to walk across the canal any more. I walked across the tundra instead. Oh, yeah, I did have my driver’s license by then but I was only allowed to drive to school when I had to go to a piano lesson afterwards. I think my favorite coat was a cute little fake leopard-skin thing with almost no insulation. And stockings again, or maybe we actually had pantyhose by then. Whatever they were, they were not up to subzero temperatures. But I did NOT get frostbite!!!!! Ever!!!

These days, everybody drives or gets driven to school. If the unique little snowflakes of The Planet Ann Arbor are more than 1.5 miles from school, they can take a bus. If they are closer than that, they usually get driven, if a “safety bus” is not an option. I am guilty too! I didn’t drive my kids to elementary school because the school is on my block. They had to pass by the deep, dark, scary woods to get there but they didn’t have to cross a street. Middle school and high school? We had some dealings with the middle school bus but I have to admit that I did a lot of driving too.

Why do we do this? Is the world *really* so much more dangerous than when I was a kid that we have to drive our kids everywhere? How did you get to school when you were a kid? Whatever age you are.

6 Responses to “In which I am dragged from orbit, only to spiral to a rapid vaporous death into an engorged red sun.”

  1. Webmomster Says:

    I walked, sometimes I rode my bike, to get to elementary school. Junior High and High School were across the street from my house….

  2. Kathy Farnell Says:

    I took the shoe leather express!

  3. Sam Says:


    I lived 5 country miles from the elementary school (newly consolidated; I would have walked a half-mile to the two-room country school if I’d started the year before), and 7-8 miles from the junior high, 8-9 miles from the high school (or maybe a tad less). Except I tried riding my bike sometimes while in HS, so I could stay late for activities; had to be home by dark, though.

  4. jane Says:

    I walked to elementary school – about a mile. Junior High – walked. probably a little less than a mile? High School – a mixture of bus, walking, driving, being driven.

    I wish that more kids walked to school these days. Parents (you know – ‘they’) say there’s too much traffic for their kids to walk — but what’s causing much of the traffic? Parents driving their kids to school.

  5. kayak woman Says:

    So true about the school-related traffic!!! Very noticeable difference when there’s a school holiday.

  6. Pooh Says:

    Bubs will attest to what Jane and KW said about school traffic.

    I walked to school at every level. I don’t remember ever driving to high school, although I do remember when Mark’s VW was moved from the student lot to the faculty lot. That was in the evening though. We’d driven over to see the school play. VW beetles are light enough that they can be moved by a small group of people.

    When we lived in Grand Rapids, I walked to school (K and 1st) through a small business district including a bakery and a 5 & 10, train tracks and a gas station, among others. I remember:
    -Taking a note to the bakery with “Pumpernickel” written on it, since Bubs didn’t expect me to remember that long word.
    -Buying some small ticket item for Mom at the 5 & 10 and getting change back. Mom hadn’t told me about change, so when the lady said, “Here, this is your money”, I went to the penny candy display, and came back with a handful. I gave her all my change back, and she rung it up and gave me the remaining change. Back and forth I went, until all of “my money” had been spent, and I had a big bag of candy. Our folks were pretty strict about sweets, so this was a real haul!
    -The train tracks sometimes had trains on them, and the big kids would race across in front of the trains, but I was scared stiff of those trains and always waited. (My adult memory says they were probably switching tracks and not through tracks, but I’m not sure.)
    -When passing the gas station, we always inhaled deeply, b/c it smelled so good. This was before unleaded gasoline was the law.

    Hmm, I was a little kid having big adventures, and maybe some of them were a bit stupid, but I did survive.

    When we moved to Ann Arbor, we had a walk that was just under the limit for being bussed. (1 mile, 1.25?) I know that we were right on the boundary between 3 schools. Across Crest was Eberwhite Elem., and across Huron was the Mack Elem., but we went to Bach Elementary. The only store was Johnny’s which was across the street from Bach, and not really on the way home.

    Jay and I went to Slauson Jr. High, which was one block from home, and Pioneer HS which was 1.5 miles. By the time Jane was that age, my parents had moved across town to their current location.