Blast From the Past,  Deep Thoughts,  Tiny Kingdom Exclusive

Flashback Friday: There Once Was A Place Which Promised Happy Hours

It didn’t just promise Happy Hours – it delivered, affording mothers throughout the Tiny Kingdom five hours of peace and giving three, four and five-year-olds days of kindergarten bliss.

Here’s the graduating class of Happy Hours kindergarten in 1973.

5yoHappy Hours

(click to enlarge)

We learned all sorts of important life skills at Happy Hours. We learned how to cut with pointy scissors, how to stop eating the jar of paste, how to go all the way across the monkey bars without stopping and not to hang on them upside-down on the days you wore a dress.

See the clock in the background? We probably couldn’t read that.  We didn’t focus so much on letters and numbers and real school stuff.  The teachers at Happy Hours wanted to make sure we knew how to share, how to get to the bathroom on time, to say please , thank you, yes ma’am and no ma’am.  That’s what everyone learned in kindergarten back then.

When you were five, Mrs. Sillaman, who owned the school, was your teacher, and she ensured you were ready to make your way in the world.  Everyone graduated  well-versed in a variety of songs and dances, including “Way Down Yonder in The Paw-Paw Patch,” “Skip To My Lou,” and the Hokey-Pokey. We memorized and recited the 100th Psalm every Thanksgiving after we’d made hand-turkeys.

There was one kid in my class who said everything like it was a question? And Mrs. Sillaman made him repeat every sentence without the inflection on the end? And even at that young age I thought I might be capable of murder?  And I cannot for the life of me remember which child that was to identify him, which is probably best for all concerned.

I remember plenty of the others, though.

I suppose everyone who moves back home experiences this– the people from your past pop up in unexpected places.  Today’s Flashback Friday has shown me just how much our lives are interwoven.

The boy on the end of the front row is Archie, and he and I went to school together through high school. You know the kid who could fix the film projector when it broke down and then grew up to be a computer genius? That’s him. He also married a gorgeous blond-haired, blue-eyed girl who was several years younger than we are. She Jazzercises with me, and has the tight ass and firm thighs that come along with that activity.

Now that I’ve complimented her I suppose it’s a convenient time to confess that I remember a certain boy-girl party in the 7th grade where Archie and I flirted and danced. I don’t think I kissed him, but I sure thought about it.  I actually had a crush on his older brother, Charles, but figured that any male from that family (and there were several) would do.

Despite growing up with brothers, Archie now has three blond, blue-eyed daughters and is hugely outnumbered in his household. Dude, I feel your pain. Sometime we need to trade: you can come to my house and play the Doorknob/Fart game with my boys and I’ll go to your house and braid hair and sprinkle glitter.

The red-head on the other end is now a judge. Happily, he’s not the judge who has a daughter that Finn decked in the face in second grade. He has a boy Finn’s age and they are great friends. He also has twin boys who look exactly like he does in this picture.

In the second row, the boy in the red and white stripes (which are probably meant to be crimson, for all the Bama fans out there) is now a successful insurance salesman with a lovely wife and children. I cannot believe I don’t have any dirt on him, as we ran in the same circles.  Thank God I showed some restraint with someone.

I’m in the middle in the blue dress, and next to me is Katie Stroud.  I played with her a lot.  Her mom looked a lot older than my mom and wore her hair piled in a bun on top of her head, and long skirts, like a German hausfrau.    I couldn’t picture her wearing the flashy bikini my mom sported.  Hairstyles aside, I thought Katie’s mom was great because she let Katie have an E-Z Bake Oven, while my mom told me I could use the real oven and be happy about it.  Katie and I probably made 1000 saucer-sized chocolate cakes at her house through the years.

John is next to her.  He played football at Alabama.  Several of my friends kissed him in high school, but I didn’t.  Today he owns Greek restaurants and sushi restaurants which both rock.  Bill and I had a wonderful dinner at his fancy sushi restaurant, Ginsei, and sat next to a guy who was wooing a Greek medical student.  She was hot, his lines were witty, the rock shrimp were luscious and we drank two bottles of wine while we eavesdropped on their date.  Space between tables is not the restaurant’s strong point.  The wooer is now engaged to someone else, which is a whole ‘nother story, but I hear that the med student is the most eligible Greek in town so she’ll be totally fine.

The first guy on the last row is Steven, and we had one date in high school.  (Just to show you the connectedness of the Tiny Kingdom, he’s now married to the sister of someone I practice law with, his mother lives around the corner, and his brother’s mother-in-law lives down the street.)

Steven and I went on a double date with his mother and Fred, her now husband.  At that point they had been dating five years or so, and my parents knew that we were at the movies with Steven’s parents.  Fred had some sort of car trouble, and I got home five minutes after curfew.  My parents were way uptight about the curfew, and I intend to be the same way.  There were no cell phones back then, and Steven had the pleasure, which he assures me he has never forgotten, of walking me to the door, where he was met by my dad, clad only in his boxers.

My dad was unforgiving, Steven and I were horrified, and his mom and Fred were in the driveway waiting on Steven, either laughing or making out.  I should ask her.

The next guy, Brad, was your typical Bad Boy.  Not the sexy kind of Bad Boy, just Bad.  We carpooled with Brad.  His mom had pale skin and blonde hair and the look on her face when we picked him up for school was one of pure relief.  I sympathized; that’s the look I had on my face when we dropped him off.  He kicked girls and teachers, threw tantrums, refused to color when it was time to color and he was the worst dancing partner.

I couldn’t remember the name of the next girl, but Paige, in white, says her name was Arden Ripple.  My God!  What an awesome name!  It’s my personal belief that she changed her name to Angelina Jolie and became obsessed with children, but if not, I hope the real Arden Ripple will let us know what she’s been up to.

Paige gets the award for least changed, despite birthing five boys.  Oddly, she looks even more like herself today in the 3 year-old class picture than she does here.  Sigh.

The boy in the brown and white stripes is Lee and he has a great recollection of the Happy Hours gang.  In fact, he wrote that he painted the tree on the far right and Archie did the apple tree next to his, which he felt was inferior.  He knows that a girl created the tree on the left hand side and remembers thinking it was awful.  Archie commented that the girls were totally responsible for painting all the bunnies.

The boy in blue is named Duvergne.  You pronounce it “Doo-vern.”  Clearly that’s a French name, but I remember my mom insisting it was Spanish.  Whatever.  Foreign languages were not her thing.  In 6th grade all the kids in the Tiny Kingdom take ballroom dancing lessons at Steeple Arts.  I did it, our parents did it, and Finn did,too, though Bill was unsure when he would ever use them, as he grew up in Auburn and has never had to do an impromptu foxtrot himself.

Duvergne has not lost his love of the dance; he was one of the ballroom aids during Finn’s class.  When I told Finn that I’d known Duvergne for 35 years he about fainted, because I’d been telling him I was thirty for quite a while.

Here we are at four:


(click to enlarge)

I’m in the middle again, with pink and white.  The boy in blue by my knee was named Blair, and he had the longest eyelashes ever.  I’m sitting next to Dana Goldblatt, who has disappeared.  It’s a shame, because I went to her house after school a lot.

Dana told me that if we touched the tips of our tongues together a fairy would appear and we could boss her around.  We tried it several times but we never got a fairy.  You might think it’s gross to touch your tongue to someone else’s, but the great thing about Dana was that she was also a big fan of eating Gleem toothpaste, so the tongue-touching was a minty experience.  Generally we’d get home, have a snack, eat some Gleem (I didn’t swallow), go outside and touch tongues, and spend the rest of the afternoon on the swings.

Here we are at three:


(click to enlarge)

Archie’s on the second row, and he’s whooped. Paige, John, Russell, me and Katie make up a happy back row. It looks like we couldn’t draw trees, but we were able to cut out Easter Eggs with our safety scissors at that young age.  Even then we were headed for great things.

I’m not sure how the girl in the green and red in the middle row got to be in this class.  Kathryn lived behind us, and her mom was in my mom’s wedding.  I know for a fact that she was only two-and-a-half.  She must have been a toilet-trained prodigy to have been at Happy Hours.

My family did a lot with her family.  They had a poodle named Celia, and Kathryn had two little brothers who were always climbing on furniture and bleeding.  I thought they were gross.  I was too young to see an omen when it was right in front of me.

To her right is Allen, in the Peter Pan collar.  We carpooled with him, too, and he was always late.  Their maid would walk him out to the car with his lunchbox and make sure he got in the Chrysler safely.  In high school, his sister and I were hookers.  I don’t mean the kind of girl who sleeps with an older married man with children, hoping he’ll buy her a fancy new Lexus.  We were Dorians together, on the dance team, and we hooked arms when it was time for us to do high kicks.   I’d go to her house to change between the football game and the party afterward, and one time Allen walked by the room where we were changing and saw me in nothing but my fishnets and my bra.  I screamed, he screamed, and we didn’t talk again for years.

I’m sure if I sat here longer I could bore you with more kindergarten tales, but really I’d like to encourage the other graduates of Happy Hours to click on “comments” and let us know where you are and what you remember.  In particular, if you know what a paw-paw is and why you put it in the basket, please chime in.


Join in with your own Flashback Friday! Directions are here.


  • Jane

    Oh my gosh, that is hilarious – the stories you remember. And I love the whole thing; the small town where everyone knows everyone, the great manners and kids in The Jungle would do well to learn those aspects of life before worrying about test scores and which gang to join. Great post!

    Jane’s last blog post..In A Nutshell

  • MamaD4

    Does Happy Hours still exist? I went to a great nursery school for a couple of years, but I don’t recall ever taking a class photo. This was in 1977-ish and yeah, we spent a lot of time just playing, goofing around eating popsicles. There was one strange boy in my class who was a little younger than me and thought he was the Incredible Hulk…he would randomly change from himself into the Hulk and chase all the girls around. I still think of it when I see his picture in our high school annual.

    If the school still exists, I’m wondering if it’s still called Happy Hours, because all I could think of was having a cocktail while I read this…

  • Sir Nottaguy-Imadad

    FYI- A paw-paw is a fruit that looks like a small pear and taste like a tennis shoe (at least the one that my FIL brought to us).You put them in a basket because you are gathering them to eat, or to send them to Indonesia to make shoes from. Some people like them, I’m not one of them.
    I love looking back at the class pictures better than just looking at my school pictures because everybody looks silly, not just me.

  • Brandy Poole

    I had a teacher in junior high who’s mission in life was to stop students from saying everything like it was a question. I can still hear him say, “You gotta be confident in what you say. Now, try again.” If you continued putting question marks at the end of every sentence, he would make you copy entries out of the encyclopedia as punishment, which is why I am quite knowledgeable about penguins, bald eagles and Clara Barton – founder of the Red Cross.

    Brandy Poole’s last blog post..Flashback Friday: There once was …

  • Tootsie

    Um, I’m pretty sure that I went to Happy Hours while we were living right outside the Tiny Kingdom – Old Leeds. I need to check with my mom. We have a picture somewhere that is remarkably similar to yours, circa 1978-9. What I remember is that there was a boy in my four year old class who couldn’t wipe himself and I was very disdainful of that. And whenever my little brother caught sight of me on the playground, he would throw a fit and I had to come inside and sit with him. And there was a kid in my class named Jeremy, but I called him Germy. Good times.

    Tootsie’s last blog post..anyhoodle

  • paige priestley

    This was so funny!! I always thought her name was Ms. Cinnamon. My boys never understood why our old school is now a home! It always seemed to me that the playground was so huge! Katie must have been the Martha Stewart back then…I made several fabulous treats with that easy bake oven. I remember her mom’s hair too!

  • Laura

    This is absolutely the most fun read ever! I love it! How hilarious!!!! Dana and Gleem toothpaste!? Kathryn’s brothers (an omen), etc., this is too funny!
    Were any of these people in our 1st grade class (Mrs. Ennis)?? Love to know what happened to each and every one of them! (Laura grew up to teach French and later became a children’s librarian)…

  • Rebecca

    Love it! It’s such a shame so much is asked of preschool and kindergarten children now (it’s one reason I left teaching). Kindergarten is supposed to be about blocks, learning to tie your shoes, and knowing your address.

    Thanks so much for many a smile as I recalled my kindergarten & preschool days!

    Love the stories – you have a great memory!

    As always – thanks for hosting :)!

    Rebecca’s last blog post..Flashback Friday: There Once Was…

  • Lee

    Great stuff! Actually, I thought the tree on the far left was by far the superior tree but since a girl drew it, it wouldn’t be a fair comparison to Archie’s or my drawing.

    I also remember the huge playground. I loved the see-saw. I do remember one exercise where we you had to match colors – i.e. a red truck and a red house.

    This brought me to tears because I thought you had to pick which colors looked good with each other. Everytime I tried to pick out something to wear, my mom would say that “didn’t match.”

    Also, when you got to go home, the teacher would stand by the window and look for your number. Anne and I rode together in car number 8.

  • Jessica

    It is funny what everyone remembers. I absolutely loved this and laughed as I read. I remember in Tennessee when I was in 1st grade the kid who would eat crayons and the quiet african-american boy with glasses who sat in the back quietly who I later saw at his home when mom delivered groceries. I will never forget that house. I met my first best friend Kaye in the first grade who I kept in touch with after I moved to IN until 8th grade. Thanks for the memories.

  • kelly mason wood

    Ha! I knew it was just a matter of time until our parent’s beloved Happy Hours was revisited. I point to the building ( now a home) often as I pass with my kiddies. I am the sullen child in the front row of the 1973 photo wearing the blue dress. Along with “Captain Kerr” or Katherine Strickland , I was one of the terrified 2 year olds in the bunch!

  • bhaukohl

    Happy Hours, indeed. Do you recall the “pit” at the very back of the playground where we were allowed at recess to dig using one of the thirty or so army surplus shovels? It still strikes me as odd that day-labor-prep was part of the HH curriculum.

  • Mindy

    Wow! Why is it that I can’t remember the name of the person that I met at a meeting an hour ago ( really), but I can identify everyone in these pictures, even the ones I haven’t seen in 20 years? This was so much fun, and I loved your stories! You ALMOST make me miss the tiny kingdom.

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