None of my friends went to preschool—at least none that I am aware. I wasn’t sure if it even existed in Boonton in the mid-fifties, so I went to a Boonton Facebook page to research this.
It turned out there was a preschool in town. The school, Miss Prall’s Nursery School, was located across the street from Aunt Marian and Uncle Tony’s Cornelia Street house. I now remember walking home from school on Church Street and seeing the playground equipment in her backyard. I recall being jealous of it, but I don’t think I knew why it was there. I am sure money was the biggest obstacle to me attending nursery school.
Preschool for me was a television show called Romper Room. By the age of three, thanks to Miss Joan, I was a pro at reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I learned good posture by walking around the living room with a pot on my head singing The Posture Basket Song
Not only did I learn my manners from Grandma, there was also Mr. Doo-Bee, a giant bumblebee who taught me good behavior by instructing me to: “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents.” I learned safety from him when he told me to “Do Bee a sidewalk player, don’t be a street player.” He had a catchy little tune from which I modeled my behavior and explains why I remain perfect today. It began with:
I always do what’s right
I never do anything wrong
I’m a Romper Room Doo-Bee
A Doo-Bee All day long!
I did my exercises along with my Romper Room class while, of course, singing a song:
Bend and stretch, reach for the stars
There goes Jupiter, here goes Mars.
Bend and stretch,reach for the sky
Stand on tippy-toes, oh so high!
I prayed before my snack: God is great, God is good, Let us thank him for our food. Amen.
For live playmates, since I had no siblings until I was four, and Aunt Ar wasn’t even a useful playmate until years later, Grandma would input a cousin or two or export me to one of their houses.
Kindergarten back then was primarily to learn socialization. I am not sure if we were even taught our numbers and letters, so there were no expectations when you started school. Reading did not ever begin until first grade. The biggest accomplishment was learning how to tie our shoes. So thanks to Romper Room, I was good to go by the time I stepped over the threshold of good old School Street School in 1960.