Half Sessions

by Bill Newman

While attending Hawthorne Avenue School, a grade school we had what were called "half sessions". This was something that only grade schools could take advantage of. A grade school was a school that started with kindergarten and went through the eighth grade.

If the weather was bad, meaning it was raining or snowing hard before lunch time then the principal wrote out a directive calling the day a "half session". This meant that after we left school for the lunch hour, usually 11:30 to 12:30 we did not have to return for the afternoon session.

From 11 A.M. on, each time the door to the classroom opened we would all cross our fingers. We were awaiting a monitor bearing the precious message, "half session". There was truly praying in school. The mean teachers would make us wait till 11:29 to give us the good or bad news. The nice teachers would tell us at once if the news was good. I believe the teachers prayed as hard as the students.

It seems to me that more than half the time the weather cleared up by noon. When that was the case we were free to treat the balance of the day as a holiday. If it had been raining and continued, as by some unknown signal most everyone met at the Hawthorne movie house. Sometimes the theater changed its program to accommodate the "half sessioners". If it were snowing and continued -- well what could be better.

For me the movie was further than the school so it always seem like a joke to have a half session and go to the movies. I wonder if schools in other cities had half sessions and if they were named for the street they were on as many of the movie houses were.

It should be noted that there were no such things as school busses. Everyone walked to school or got there through whatever arrangements their parents made.


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