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Starting School in 1963 !!

The Way I See it

August 27, 2017
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Finally, we're the "top of the class." 8th graders at St Joseph's School in Chelsea, Iowa. Top dogs! No more being second-class runts! We're the Cats! Numero Uno!

Our 8th grade class of 1963/64 included Lindi, Becky, Jeanne, Connie, Susie, Marlene, Kathy, Tom, Tom, the twins, Jim & John, Delbert and of course, yours truly. We ruled the roost...finally!! Our school was only a few years old and still had the new smell to it and the class structures went something like this: Kindergarten, first & second grades were in one room; third, fourth & fifth in a second room and the sixth, seventh and eighth grades making up a third room. We also had a Music Room, Library and of course the Gymnasium, which also served as our lunch room.

School started each day with two of the 8th graders getting to raise the United States Flag every morning and when the bell rang, we all stood, looked out the windows at the flag and recited The Pledge of Allegiance. To my knowledge, no one was scarred by this action!! Then while standing, we would recite The Lord's Prayer and then classes would officially begin. Each room had one teacher that taught all three grades. We all had our study time and homework while one class was being specifically taught. Some of us had Music Class, Choir Practice or was allowed to go to the Library.

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John Sheda

Being quiet was definitely the norm of the day at St. Joseph's.

I'm not sure if I remember all my teachers during my elementary and junior high years but here are the ones I recall; Sister Roberta, Sister Virginia, Sister Gabrieles, Sister Christine and of course Mrs. Behounek, (who I once accidently called Mom), much to the laughter of all the kids.

Each day around 11 am, we put our books away, lined up and marched over to church for daily Mass at 11:15. Mass usually lasted about a half hour and then it was lunch time. Boy, did we have good lunches back then. I can't remember all the cooks, but Dorothy Musel and Adeline Upah were part of the team. I can still remember the meat loaf and mashed potatoes and every single desert we ever had. We even got to go back for seconds.......................

sometimes thirds. Dorothy would say, "Johnny, don't tell anyone but here's another chocolate chip cookie." I'm sure I wasn't her only pet!!

After lunch, we had about a half hour or so of some kind of recess. As we are just beginning the school year, it was usually outside for quick ball game. I remember Sister's Roberta and Virginia playing ball with us. Watching them run, catch and bat in their long black habits was truly one of the "wonders of the world." How they didn't just melt away on those hot fall days is beyond me? Sister Virginia was quite tall and had a very good swing. I think perhaps she may have played some Minor League ball somewhere!!!

The big event of our year was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963. Kennedy was Catholic so we all adored him, especially Ellen Kay,a young girl in the seventh grade. I think she made a huge scrapbook about him. Wonder if she still has it today? Bet she does. This was also the height of the "Cold War" and we thought "The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming." For all of us at St. Joe's, it was a frightening time.

Well with that, I'm gonna stop as I've been thinking about that meat loaf and mashed potatoes for a while now. Gonna call Deb and see if by chance, we're having just that for supper tonight. Fingers are crossed and I'm praying.

Let me know your school day thoughts at or call me at 319.327.4640.

Have a great school year!!



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