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Continued: Readers share their back-to-school memories

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  • Last update: September 1, 2013 - 1:41 PM

September 11, 1944. My first day of kindergarten had arrived! When I walked down the front steps of our St. Louis Park bungalow, I wore the toast-brown sweater Mother knit for the occasion. She thought it complemented my carrot top and freckled face, but my thoughts were far from clothes. I’d readily given up full days of play for the discipline of a school desk because I was told they’d teach me to read — and that was magic beyond fantasy.

After school, my little sister Cathie came running down the sidewalk to greet me. She looked up expectantly and demanded, “Read to me, Shaw!”

I was both perplexed and angry when I responded, “They didn’t even try to teach me to read!”


Shawn O’Rourke Gilbert, Bloomington



What’s in a name?

In 1964, I selected a college by reading a brochure, filled out an application and subsequently received a small scholarship.

In late August, I got on a bus in Louisville, Ky., and spent a day and night traveling from bus station to bus station until I arrived shortly after dawn at Park College in Parkville, Mo., a small river town near Kansas City.

There was no bus station in Parkville, so I was left on a street corner with my footlocker, a suitcase and a heavy typewriter. In the distance I could see a lane winding up a steep bluff and a big, spire-topped stone building. That must be the campus, I thought.

A panel truck came up the deserted street, heading the way I was going, so I stepped off the curb and stuck out my thumb. When the truck stopped, I saw lettering on the side that read, “Park College.” The driver appeared to be in a hurry.

“You a new freshman?” he asked. I nodded and he pointed up the hill. “The campus is that way,” he said. Then he paused. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“Hawley,” I replied. “David Hawley.”

Without another word, he pulled the brake, got out of the truck and helped me load my stuff in back. He not only took me to the campus, but drove me to the building for incoming students and even helped me unload. Then he shook my hand, saying, “Glad to meet you.”

Hawley isn’t a common surname, but it was the name of one of the school’s first presidents. A building and a lake on the campus were named in honor of him and the alumni rolls contained the names of lots of Hawleys.

At this little liberal arts college, I had — for the first and last time — an unforgettable name.


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