John D. Pierce

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"A Hoppin' Good Idea"




My memories of the first grade are vivid because I did not attend kindergarten nor spend much time anywhere else apart from my mother until I was six years old. I was timid about the new experience, but not nearly as much as our pastor’s son, Walter.

He wore white dress shirts to school and refused to speak to anyone but me. Our teacher, Mrs. Watts, even let him pass some of his answers to her questions through me.

One day Mrs. Watts, who was also the principal’s wife, showed us how to make a terrarium. She filled the glass tank with rocks, leaves and moss.

The next morning a light bulb went off in head that I knew would make me the delight of the teacher for at least a day. My brother and I caught the school bus at the street below our house. It was near a pond.

On this day, the many tadpoles we had seen earlier had evolved into multitudes of tiny hopping frogs. There must have been a million of them.

“Wow,” I thought. “Imagine how neat it would be to have some of these frogs in our terrarium?”

The school bus was now in sight so I had to act quickly. I grabbed the little frogs by the handfuls and crammed them into the pockets of my blue jeans.

Arriving at school, I hurried to my class and rushed up to Mrs. Watts’ desk where I eagerly pulled the frogs — or in some cases, mangled frog parts — from my pocket.

She didn’t seem as ecstatic about the idea as I had imagined. Some people, I guess, just don’t enjoy natural science as much as others.

[An unpublished essay © John D. Pierce]