Joyce and I were friends throughout the elementary grades and on through middle school and high school and we are still best friends today…
In this oral history interview at Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center, two Orlando natives, Hertieline (Caldwell) Hilley and Joyce (Bossie) Erickson, recall their school days at Grand Avenue, the forming of friendships, values, and lifelong learning.
Hear what it was like to attend historic Grand Avenue School in the City Beautiful in the 1940s and graduate from OHS in the happy times of 1951. Experience a cultural visit through time in these recollections of Orlando’s glory days when school lunch was a dime, Bible verses were memorized, and children streamed through the school classrooms to see the Christmas decorations…
Text excerpts from recording.
Well, the school basically, we went to the original school building. There were no outer buildings. And, in fact, Grand Avenue is built on the same plan as Princeton Elementary which is in the College Park area. We had an auditorium, we had a lunchroom, we just had it all…
Well, something fun that we did. I remember that we used to have the May Day celebration and it was always a nice thing to attend… Yes, for May Day we had special dresses for the May Day. And I’ll never forget our very first principal Miss Annie B. Lord….
And I also remember this, in the third grade Mrs. Steinhan’s class we had a backwards party. The girls went to the little girls room and put their dresses on backwards. The boys went and put their shirts on backwards to the little boys room. We came back and we had to eat backwards. It was just very unusual to say the least, but memorable.
At Christmas time we started I believe with the sixth grades and the sixth grades would line up and they would go through the rooms to see what all the Christmas decorations were. And then right behind them would come the fifth grades so it was just one continuous stream of students going through all the classrooms.
PTA invitations created by Miss Mullinuk’s 4th graders, view.
In fact, back then, I remember learning many verses in the Bible and when you would learn these verses then we would get a little New Testament. But, of course, you certainly could not do that today… I learned a lot then that I still remember today.
My dad served in WWII as a Seabee in the Navy. He was in Samoa and he came and talked to my class. He came to see me as a surprise and the teacher asked me if he would like to talk to the class and he did. And I was so proud of him…
And then also my uncle was in the grocery business and that was back during the war, of course this was, and you could not get bubble gum, but my uncle got bubble gum. And he’d give it to me and I sold it. I’d sell it to the kids. And I made me some money now.
The thing I notice today is when I drive to the school to do volunteer work in the library, the pecan trees are still near the school. There used to be a pecan grove right next door and I see that a lot of the pecan trees are still there…
Grand Avenue School, 1938-1939
Books, Education and Learning
What I’m really tickled to see, that the children have an interest in the books. That they really want to learn. And education is so important and reading is the basis for all of it.
Oral history interview at Grand Avenue Primary Learning Center with Orlando natives, Hertieline (Caldwell) Hilley and Joyce (Bossie) Erickson, October 22, 2013.