Romance & Royalty in the Fourth Grade

Ours were shorter and more rectangular

Ours were shorter and more rectangular

Before I write any stories about my girlfriend, (ultimately my wife), I am working my way through childhood romances.  There is one that I almost accidentally skipped so let me try to document what I remember about my fourth grade flame Kathy Dudley, and anything else worthy of mention that year.

Recess time is what I remember most about Kathy, (Mary K, but we all knew her as Kathy).  I assume everyone knows what monkey bars are – Fillmore Elementary had a decent set of them out in the grassy area of the playground.  Every nice day that we were allowed to go outside for recess, several of us from Mrs. Thackera’s class would head out there and spend the length of recess being monkeys until we heard the bell ring, signaling our return.

Kathy was a recess playtime leader, an organizer of what games would get played out that day on the monkey bars.  Her favorite game centered on King Arthur and the days of the knights – we just called it simply playing “Knights”.   Typically she would declare herself Queen and most often she would declare me as the King and Rick Grubbs would be her ‘primary’ knight.  There were no special honorific or military orders declared – she merely declared Ricky as ‘the boss knight’ and would call out names in order of rank.  Kathy and I would be perched at one end of the monkey bars and Ricky would command the other end.  I remember Marc Mathews and Dave Strode being in the pack occasionally and I’m sure there were others involved in the games, but we four are the ones I have the strongest memory of in Kathy’s ‘court’.  Perhaps I should have learned from the subtle forewarning because as in the game of Knights, in marriage I don’t have much authority as King – Kathy called the shots.

As Queen, she would declare who the fighting pairs were each day.  Sometimes she would declare knights had to fight each other.  On other days perhaps her King would have to pair off with a knight while the Queen fought a separate knight (at least she told me they were fighting…hmm).  On yet other days, the Queen would declare that the King had to fight the Queen.  Being a lover, I hated those days – I wanted only to kiss the Queen.  This was a very dysfunctional kingdom it appears because all I recall was that we all fought each other every single day.  What kingdom, (or Queendom in this case), can survive for a long period of time where everyone in the Royal Court was fighting and killing each other every day?

As it would play out, the Queendom survived for only a year.  More accurately stated, the King had to move away from one play ground that had a focus on monkey bars to another across the west side of town where the focus was on slinging foursquare and tether balls at each other in the attempt to maim and kill.  My parents told us that we were leaving our rented home on Goodman Avenue and heading to our own house on Prytania.

4th Grade Me

4th Grade Me

On the very last day of fourth grade, I had a very lengthy debate with someone as to who would get to spend more time with Kathy in fifth grade next year.  I thought this argument was with Rick, but he denies the allegation so I’m going to have to go with Marc.  My claim was that Prytania was so much closer to Park Avenue, (where the Queen lived), than my current address so naturally I was going to be able to visit Kathy every day after school and of course on the weekends.

My route began up the D St hill on Prytania - I admitted defeat at Eaton Ave

My route began up the D St hill on Prytania – I admitted defeat at Eaton Ave

I didn’t have a clue as to how long Park Avenue was. I was to find out one Saturday when I looked up Kathy’s address in the phone book, (remember those?), and proceeded to ride my bike down the D St. Hill and then turned right on Park.  She lived somewhere in the 1200-1400 range and my Park Ave trek began at the 300 block.  I think I rode as far as Eaton Avenue before I realized Kathy was out of reach.  The King had been emasculated.

Almost all of my fourth grade recess was spent with Kathy and Rick. Both are doing very well today. We’ve all three gone in very separate ways; not only in our careers but also in terms of geography, but for a short time we all loved each other dearly and treated each other like royalty.

Rick & I - we look the same 50 years later (we were big kids)

Rick & I – we look the same 50 years later (we were big kids)

3 comments on “Romance & Royalty in the Fourth Grade

  1. […] and we both liked to play kickball at recess. Ricky and I were to play together every day on the monkey bars in fourth grade (read me), but there is another coincidental connection between me, Rick and my wife which I will […]

  2. […] boy who I played Knights with on the monkey bars in fourth grade and kickball in third had introduced me to my future queen (aka ‘boss’).  As the connections […]

  3. […] Romance & Royalty in the Fourth Grade ( […]

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