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School Trip

Speaking of reunions, I got to attend the fourth grade trip to St. Mary’s as a chaperone.  Someone once told me that the trip is a requirement of every fourth grader in Maryland, though I’ve never found documentation for that.  Regardless, I wanted to go on it because I went to St. Mary’s City when I was in 4th grade.

I have three memories of my St. Mary’s City trip:

(1) Visiting a one-room school-house.  The school-house had a few metal lunch pails, and some of the kids got to put their lunches in these pails.  I was not one of the kids chosen.  It is something that has sat in my heart for the last 32 years.

(2) A play where my classmates dressed up like colonial people and read their lines off slips of paper.  I was not given a part and did not get to wear the cool period clothing.

School House

(3) Going to the Renaissance Fair campus afterward even though the fair itself wasn’t running.

So we arrived at St. Mary’s City and started to go around the site.  None of it felt familiar.  I know that I’ve been there because it’s a line in my diary, but I didn’t recognize any of the structures or activities.  I finally took aside the docent and asked about the one-room school-house, but she told me that the children of St. Mary’s were educated at home.  There was no school-house.


I’ve had such strong memories for so many years about a trip that apparently wasn’t this trip.  I mean, I’ve been looking forward to this field trip since the kids were in Kindergarten.  But apparently, that’s not where those memories were from at all.

When I got home, I did some Googling, and I think the one room school-house was actually the Anne Arundel Free School (damn you, AAFS, and your dearth of metal lunch pails!), which makes sense since the fairgrounds for the Renaissance Fair are in the vicinity.  There is also a photo on the site that shows a brick wall similar to the brick wall in my photo.  The twins and I will go investigate and return with an answer soon.

But it made me call into question all of my other elementary school memories.

Luckily, I have photographic proof of one of my favourite memories.  My Kindergarten teacher had a fabric clown, and on your birthday, you could stick your hand in the clown’s ass and pull out a treat.  This is me giving the clown a rectal exam and pulling out a much cherished Crayola bathtub crayon.

Clown Butt


1 Jendeis { 06.09.15 at 7:11 am }

Can’t confirm whether it’s a requirement, but everyone I know who grew up here (including western MD) went to St. Mary’s in 4th grade.

2 Charlotte { 06.09.15 at 7:35 am }

We are in private school, and our 4th and 5th grade field trips are a walking trip trip to Annapolis, and a trip to Ft. McHenry. They alternate years, so that the 4th and 5th grade can share a bus due to small class sizes.

3 Middle Girl { 06.09.15 at 7:47 am }

This is me giving the clown a rectal exam and pulling out a much cherished Crayola bathtub crayon. classic. Trumps the fake memory by a landslide.

4 Jenn { 06.09.15 at 7:53 am }

Gah! You are hilarious! That clown is creepy. Here in Michigan we have Henry Ford museum and Greenfield village that most kids within two hours go to for a school trip. I remember mine a little because it was an overnight but I know I also went with family and maybe girl scouts. I never got picked for anything like that in school and never one anything until I was pregnant. Now I win a ton of stuff!

5 andy { 06.09.15 at 9:24 am }

You have me rolling on the floor with the clown story!! memories are funny things….I have some very distinct memories from my childhood that none of the adults from my life can remember, nor do they believe to be true. But dammit, they are my memories!

6 Sharon { 06.09.15 at 12:36 pm }

The clown line cracked me up, too!

OK, I have my own childhood false memory story. When I was 5, we moved from Long Island to New Mexico. After my father, grandmother, sister and I had relocated to our new home in NM, my mother returned to LI to finalize the sale of our house there. While she was there, a major hurricane hit, causing power outages and downing trees. (This fact is documented: Hurricane Belle made landfall on LI in August 1976.)

For years I swore that I was with my mom during the hurricane, despite everyone else in my family telling me I wasn’t. I *still* remember it that way, truth be told. . . I can picture myself taking a bath by candlelight and a big tree that had fallen across our street.

Memory is a funny thing.

7 torthuil { 06.09.15 at 4:59 pm }

Memories are weird. We can be so sure of them and then we get proof that our brain made most of it up! crazy.
That clown is hilarious. I’m sure when you were a kid you didn’t think it was at all weird to pull a treat out of its butt, but looking back it’s bizarre and funny.

8 Kim { 06.09.15 at 5:29 pm }

Oh the troubling memories of our youth. I have carried more pain over not getting to wear a pilgrim hat in my first grade program than over my first divorce by about 100:1. I will carry it to my grave.

9 May ProblemUterus { 06.09.15 at 7:00 pm }

Fourth grade here in SoCal is The Mission Year. Build a mission, visit a mission, MISSION MISSION MISSION. Junipero Serra has a lot to answer for, in my opinion.

10 Lori Lavender Luz { 06.09.15 at 7:17 pm }

Can’t stop laughing at this: ” This is me giving the clown a rectal exam…”

Love seeing Little Mel, even if she’s elbow-deep in clown colon.

11 Justine { 06.09.15 at 9:53 pm }

I think we went on a fourth grade trip, but I don’t remember where … Museum Village, maybe? My memories of elementary school involved 6th grade camp for a week (was THAT ever a disaster) and 8th grade trip to Washington DC. I also have memories of reading books in a whale’s mouth in second grade. But there’s a lot that’s fuzzy.

I think I would have repressed the rectal exam memory … 😉

12 Cristy { 06.10.15 at 4:49 pm }

With Lori and Jenn. That photo is priceless.

13 Anat { 06.11.15 at 12:09 am }

I read my boyfriend your last paragraph, and he replied deadpan, “Ok, that’s not strange.”

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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