School Field Trips (part of my Blowing on Embers series)
When we moved up here on the diagonal, our children attended a school far out in the county. Field trip time rolled around, and I was surprised to overhear some of the students saying they were planning to “lay out” that day. A field trip to town not only held no interest for them; they were a little overwhelmed by it. For some, visits to downtown were rare and intimidating, it seemed.
Not for me. Back in my school days in Florence, South Carolina, everyone I knew shared my enthusiasm for our annual field trip. It took place in the spring and was the highlight of the school year. I think we may have seen it as a sort of rite of passage. We’d made it through (almost) another year in the classroom.
My first field trips occurred when I was a student at Briggs Elementary. Some school board shuffling meant I spent the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at Tans Bay, so much further out in the county that I’d never heard of it. Field trips were a staple at both schools. When the big day came, the air was electric with anticipation.
Below are pictures taken of my third, fourth, and fifth grade field trips.
That’s right! Every single field trip was exactly the same. Year in and year out.
It went like this:
- Put home-packed lunch (mine was always my mom’s terrific egg salad sandwich and a small bag of potato chips) in the large cooler filled with dry ice. Do not touch the ice!
- Tour Coble Dairy; select a half-pint carton of white or chocolate milk; return to bus.
- Tour Merita Bakery; pick up a cinnamon roll two-pack and a Pepsi; pose for official field trip photo on steps of bakery; return to bus.
- Hop off bus at Timrod Park; retrieve lunch from cooler, watching in fascination as the dry ice forms fog when it transforms from solid to gaseous state (remember not to touch!); eat lunch and play on playground; return to bus.
- Disembark charter bus back at school and board yellow school buses for home.
For some reason I cannot fathom, we were always accompanied by a police officer—he was the same year after year, too. Our county was small and peaceful. We students were certainly not rabble rousers. Nonetheless, we had police protection. Not that we minded. We girls thought he was the cat’s pajamas. Tall, uniformed, dark wavy hair. He scared us a little, but we couldn’t help but flirt in our grade-school way. (You can see him sitting in the lower left of the middle picture with holster hanging from his hip, and standing, upper right, in third picture.)
Florence must not have been much of a happening place in the middle of the last century. But it sure seems like the school system could have come up with a little field trip variety.