Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Harrowing Halls

This week we’ve been writing about the start of school. For me there was no excitement over new pencils and fresh notebooks. I viewed the start of school with apprehension. My high school was ahead of its time. We had drugs, gangs, guns and knives long before it an issue everywhere. The street that bordered my school had the second highest crime rate in the city. I knew what it was like to be a minority. Sometimes I was the only white person in the room.

I had to walk over a mile to get there. I passed buildings that smelled so bad, I had to hold my breath. I was basically afraid all of the time and went to school as little as possible.

The lunch room was particularly bad. I’d seen students with knives and coke bottles smashed against a table to become a weapon. It wasn’t the kind of place you wanted to have eat alone. The year no one I knew had the same lunch period, I skipped it entirely and spent my lunch period in the library.

I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible and went to summer school, which cut the four years down to three and half. You could go to anywhere for summer school, so I rode the bus to a another neighborhood where the worst thing that happened is someone in my biology class put the worm we were dissecting in some girl’s purse.

Despite the above I was not horrifically depressed or even unhappy. I was lucky enough to have wonderful parents, a Unitarian youth group that provided a social life, and a million babysitting jobs.

And then I went to college and my whole world opened up.

Along with writing about the start of school, all my blog sisters have been having contests. Here’s mine. Everyone who leaves a comment before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Saturday will be entered. I will put all of your names in a bowl and have my husband randomly choose one. I will announce the name in my next Saturday’s blog. The winner will need to contact me with their mailing information.


And the prize is.... DA TA DA An advance readers copy of You Better Knot Die.

28 comments:

Planner said...

That's one rough high school! I love how you were able to control what you could (having lunch in the library, going to summer school to accelerate graduation) and how you were able to focus on the parts of your life that you liked. Those are good lessons for life, but I'm sorry you didn't have a better experience in high school.

Include me in the drawing! I would love to win an advance reader copy of your next book. I'm eager to know what Molly has been up to lately.

Chicken Herder from Westville said...

That was the perfect title. Harrowing Halls.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, the good thing about lunch in the library is that I got to read a lot. And it helped me not eat too much. With all the other problems, the food was great at my high school.

Chicken Herder, I'm glad you liked the title.

Bookwoman said...

There's a reason so many young adult novels have such a dark theme. Being a teen isn't always as much fun as we remember it being. Sounds like your high school was a pretty scary place. Thank God for college.

Judy Harper said...

I grew up in the rural south of Alabama and Georgia, what they call Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain. It was a nice area, in the 50's and 60's, to go to school. So to hear your story of where you went to school is so different. An Chicken Herder is right, perfect title. I also want to be included in the drawing. Thanks!

Camille Minichino said...

Wow, Betty, I didn't realize you had a start like that in school. You deserved more than a diploma at the end.

The conditions of your home life and school life were the reverse of mine.

It's amazing what we can get through when we're young, isn't it?

Terri Thayer said...

Wow, Betty. So sorry to hear that. Glad you made it through!

Monica Ferris said...

Betty, you got the perfect response -- thoughtful and intelligent -- from Planner. It showed you as bright and resourceful as well as resilient. Great response, great compliment! I'm glad my high school wasn't as troubled as yours, I don't think I would have responded very well.

Janel said...

My daughter just started middle school this week and the school is basically a wing in the high school. I'm worried, but luckily it isn't a rough school.

Linda O. Johnston said...

My goodness, Betty. Your difficult experiences make mine look like fun! So glad you got through it all so well.

Kay said...

Glad you survived high school, Betty! Sounds a lot like my junior high experience. Seventh & most of eighth grade I got threatened & run over on a daily basis. Ninth grade I decided no more & learned to stand up for myself. Sad, no one should have to do battle to get an education.

Would *love* to win an ARC of your next book! Love them & have turned my daughter, the avid crocheter on to them also :-)

Betty Hechtman said...

Judy,

I'm glad your high school experience was better.

Betty Hechtman said...

Camille, I remember your stories about your mother. What you endured was far tougher than anything I faced.

The good thing about bad stuff is it can build your characer.

Betty Hechtman said...

Bookwoman, I think a lot of people have short memories and forget all the trauma they went through as a kid.

Betty Hechtman said...

Terri, once I graduated, I never went back. I think it's harder when the high points of your life happen in high school and its downhill after that.

My life just keeps getting better and better.

Betty Hechtman said...

Monica, I'm glad you didn't have to find out the hard way how you would have dealt with a high school like mine.

Betty Hechtman said...

Janel, I think worry comes with being a parent no matter the circumstances.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, it wasn't all bleak. Thanks to the youth group I belonged to and h money I made babysitting I was able to go on some wonderful trips. Unitarian youth groups were an oddity, so we made quite a stir in Washington DC and were invited to Bobby Kennedy's office and our sensator had a reception for us in the capitol.

Betty Hechtman said...

Kay, you are right. No one should have to do battle to get an education.

Camille Minichino said...

What a great attitude, Betty -- yes, it only gets better!

Crochet Goddess said...

Hi, I want to be included in the the give away. I would love an advance copy of your next book! I hope your are having a great weekend.

Jane Jeffress Thomas said...

I don't know if I could have gone one day to school under the conditions you had to endure. Hats off to you for going. What brave teachers you must have had too. I am a retired educator with 35 years under my belt and the worst thing that ever happened is a student got mad once and hit me (and without thinking, I hit him back. Yikes!!!) We have remained friends through the years and laugh about it still. I would love to win a copy of your book.

Stitched With Love . . . . said...

I struggle with sending my girls to school EVERY year . . . . Though I grew up in a small rural community, I was pretty miserable in school, especially middle school. I did just fine, had a solid church youth group, but my parents were a mess. We made it through though, didn't we? And we're better for it!

Betty Hechtman said...

Crochet Goddess, I'll put your name in the hat with the others.

Betty Hechtman said...

Jane, I am sure it was hard on the teachers, too.

Ann H. said...

Yours is definitely a story of triumph over some really adverse conditions. You were very lucky to have such a wonderful support system - I wish the same for so many of our public school students today. Thanks for sharing your story.

Betty Hechtman said...

Stitched with Love, go that you made it okay even with your school misery and difficulties with your parents.

Betty Hechtman said...

Ann, I think it is harder for kids today. They are so distracted with texting on phones and listening to I pods. It's no wonder they can't concentrate.