Dumbest Kid in 3rd Grade Excerpt
Nearly 300 Alfred Almond Central School alumni attended the 40th annual banquet held July 22, 2000 at the K of C in Hornell, and a record amount of money was raised for the Jean Hanks Palmiter Memorial Scholarship, it has been reported by Lee A. Ryan, alumni association president. One of the incentives offered for scholarship donation of $25 or more was a copy of Robert Broughton's memoirs, The Dumbest Kid in Third Grade.
An excerpt from this book was quoted in the November 1999 issue of our newsletter. We would like to share another story regarding the new Alfred Almond Central School, as seen through the eyes of a "poor and destitute boy," as Broughton calls himself.
In a chapter entitled, "The New Deal," he relates this: "In the late thirties, the great depression was starting to ease throughout the land, except in Almond it seemed. There was, however, hope and excitement; FDR's new deal was coming to Almond and was going to help pull Almond out of the muck and misery of hard times. The news was circulating all through Al Palmer's Pool Hall. The young men who hung out there because they had nothing else to do would have good paying jobs. They could buy cars, maybe even get married and have a kid or two. They were elated.
"A large flood control dam was to be constructed in the town of Almond. The project would put a lot of people to work. Even more exciting, a new experimental school was to be built. It was to be called the Alfred-Almond Central School. It was a forerunner for what many schools would be like in the future. The school was scheduled to be finished in nineteen thirty-nine. The dam was to be built later, but was put on the shelf when the war came. The dam wasn't completed until the late forties."
"Some of my friends and I used to ride our bicycles up to the Alfred-Almond School project and watch the WPA workers who were building the school. We got a real kick out of the terrazzo workers. All of them were Italian. They never stopped working, and they never stopped yelling at each other in Italian. We figured most of the yelling were swear words..."
"When I passed through the large oak doors of the brand new Alfred-Almond Central School, I was awe struck. I don't recall, but I must have just stood there for a full moment wide-eyed, with my mouth agape. I remember thinking, 'Gee, I should have cleaned my old sneakers.' I didn't want to step foot on those shiny floors in my old dirty worn out sneakers. I thought surely someone would yell at me to take them off."
"When I was assigned my homeroom seat, I was once more awe struck. Sitting just a few feet from me was the prettiest girl I had ever laid eyes upon. Her name was Janey. Janey lived in Alfred Station. I lived in my grandmother's house in Almond. You might say the new school brought us together and graciously introduced us to each other."
"I felt uncomfortable in this new school. I had never been in a grand building such as this. We rode to school in brand new green and cream-colored school buses with shiny chrome bulldogs on the hoods indicating that they were built by the Mack Truck Company, the best money could buy. The school had surgically clean rest rooms and shiny terrazzo floors. The gym had a huge electric folding door so that it could be sectioned off, allowing the boys and girls to use it at the same time. The library had beautifully varnished woodwork and sound absorbing cork floors. The library windows faced the east to catch the morning sun. This is how I first saw the room with the sun rays flooding the room with its light. The sunlight just added to the splendor of it all."
"When I came home from school the first day at Alfred-Almond School, I realized just how primitive conditions were at my grandmother's house, with its outdoor toilet, and no running water and electricity, but at least I felt it was where I belonged. I didn't feel intimidated like I did in that palace they called the school. After attending the Almond School, and the one room school in Birdsall, the new Alfred-Almond School was overwhelming to say the least. The only thing I liked about the school was seeing Janey every day..."
If your would like to read more of The Dumbest Kid in Third Grade, contact:
321 Farnum Street
Wellsville, New York 14895
phone: (716) 593-1309