Sibling Assignment #16: The Stock Room, Abundant Supplies, A Black Typewriter, and Stories to Tell

Each week I join Raymond Pert and SilverValleyGirl to do a sibling writing assignment. Topic choice rotates between us. This week we are writing about Silver King School. Our mother taught second grade, 2nd-3rd combination, and third grade at Silver King School for the Kellogg School District. The school was situated below the smokestacks of the Bunker Hill Smelter and next to the creek that carried toxic waste from the Zinc Plant located up the road above the school. The structures of the Bunker Hill Smelter and Zinc plant are gone. The school still stands, but has been closed for many years.

I attended first grade at Silver King School and my brother and I spend many hours there after school and on week-ends with Mom when she stayed late or went back on Sunday to put up bulletin boards, correct workbooks, feed the fish, set up art projects, or organize her annual Valentine Post Office. My brother attended first and second grade there. My sister hadn't been born yet.

When remembering Silver King School I think of the Stock Room. Spending time in this room must have started my lifelong love for school supplies. The Stock Room was right next to my mom’s second grade classroom. It was the small room that held all the supplies teachers needed. It was always open. It was one place my brother and I could be found while Mom did her teacher work. The sights and smells captivated me.

A wall of closets had doors that opened me up to a whole world of construction paper. There were shelves of paper in different sizes and colors. Close by was a big, green paper cutter that I am sure was off limits to us. Nestled on the shelves across the room were stacks of handwriting paper. The size of the dotted and colored lines corresponded with the grade you were in and whether you printed or did cursive. There was also newsprint, ditto paper, and heavy poster board. Colorful crayon collections were always a sight to behold. Powdered poster paint in cardboard containers lined another shelf. Sometimes Mom would have me stock her room with supplies. It was a task I relished. I loved counting out the piles of paper and organizing them by color and size.

One smell that takes me back to Silver King School was the minty aroma of school paste. There were big jars of that white paste in the Stock Room. Teachers would carry the big jars to their classrooms and fill smaller baby food jars for their students to use at their desks. I remember that cool feel of the white paste and the minty smell. I asked my Mom last night if RC was the student that always ate paste. She laughed and asked, “Didn’t all second graders eat paste? It had that peppermint taste and smell you know.” I guess lots of kids did eat paste. I remember the smell and feel. I don’t know… maybe I did sneak a taste.

Another distinctive smell was the fluid for the ditto machine. (This was the machine used before copy machines youngsters). A strong fluid from a silver metal jug was poured in the machine and turned a white ditto master into copies in purple ink. Mom and her colleagues called it the purple plague. I loved to operate the ditto machine. Through six-year-old eyes it seemed magical that this machine could take white paper, a ditto master, and fluid and produce volumes of text.

The old, black typewriter captivated our attention often. We would roll paper in the manual machine and type away like we knew right where to put our fingers on the keys. Again, it was magical to see blank paper produce text. We traded off punching the keys and watching words form sentences. Mom also told me last night that one of her teaching partners frowned on our use of the typewriter. Mom must have understood then our desire to put words to paper. Whether it was at that typewriter, on lined paper from the shelves, or with chalk on the blackboard in her classroom Mom provided ample opportunities for us to put letters to words during that time spent at Silver King School. She never made us stop using that typewriter in the Stock Room. Mom gave us the time and tools to begin telling our stories. That was forty-five years ago. We still continue to tell our stories.

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