Kindergarten in Waynedale
Marybelle Davis was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on September 24th. I first met Marybelle in 1952, I was 5, and she was 37. Last Tuesday I stopped by her place on Lower Huntington Road for a visit. She welcomed me with a big hug and we sat down to talk about growing up in Waynedale in the 50’s.
She said “I remember you, you came to kindergarten one day and didn’t like it, so you just walked home. Your mom paddled your butt and sent you back in tears. You said you didn’t like kindergarten, and I said some days I didn’t like it either.” In those early days, before Waynedale was annexed into the city, kindergarten was not part of the formal school system, so we had class at the Waynedale United Methodist Church. We were baby boomers and Marybelle taught two kindergarten classes, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. There were 35 to 40 kids per class. The people running the system explained that the kids were small so the teachers should be able to handle a bunch of them.
Marybelle met her husband, Tom Davis, while attending college in Minnesota. He was stationed at Fort Ben in Indianapolis and then moved to Fort Wayne after he was discharged. Their first apartment was above the dime store (now Dance LTD), and they lived there until Doc Davis established his dental practice. Doc had their house built, which included room for his practice, and he and Marybelle made a happy home there. Doc passed away in 1998 and both of their kids now live in California; Jake in San Francisco and Shug (Marybelle) in Marin County.
A piano sits in the front room where we sat and talked, but Marybelle says she doesn’t play much because of arthritis. I asked her what she had enjoyed the most in her life and the answer came quick and sure, “It was the kindergarten classes”, she said, “You have to really love the kids to get them through each day and I really did love them.” Her hands move expressively as she talks, explaining the fun times and all the work it took to teach kids at such a young age. “We used to have a box of twine for teaching the kids to tie their shoes. We would make rabbit ears of the twine and then wind the end around the ears and through the eye. We cut out hearts on Valentines Day and I would show them how to use scissors, paste and tape.”
She still gets out and drives sometimes but she worries that some speed demon may run her over whilst on the way to the bank. “It is crazy out there on the road,” she says, “people going 90 mile-an-hour down Lower Huntington Road.” She didn’t want her picture taken, but I insisted, You’ve led over 1400 kids through kindergarten during your career, and many of them will be reading this edition of The Waynedale News. They will want to know what you look like. She agreed but only reluctantly. For those of you out there that remember Marybelle (Mrs. Davis), drop her a line and tell her thanks for the times she wiped your nose and buttoned your coat and sent you on to your next adventure, a lot smarter than when you first met her.
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