The bell marking the end of the school day is ringing. We are all sitting at our desks ready to bolt as fast as we can walk through campus, on the sidewalk… no running . . . past the water fountains . . . no running . . . under the awnings . . . no running . . . past Mr. Guzman swinging his paddle . . . no running . . . through the dragonfly filled playground . . . no running . . . over the bridge crosswalk . . . now, RUN!!!! Get home and make sure the permission slip gets on and stays on the dining room table for Mom to see when she gets home from night classes. The teacher wanted everyone to remember to get our permission slips signed so we could all go to the Zoo this Friday. This year it was 4th grade and Mrs. Lisaukis had a way of making everything exciting and fun. Her enthusiasm was contagious. From landscaping our classroom with beautiful, big tropical plants and flowers to teaching everyone how to dance folkloric style dance for Charro Days . . . but I digress.
It is Spring and Easter is in the air, but more important is getting to get to the Zoo. This was no ordinary field trip, it was the field trip of all field trips . . . we were going to walk, yes walk from J.T. Canales Elementary all the way to the world-renowned Gladys Porter Zoo. Thinking back to this I swear we walked for miles and miles and realized later it was a 1.2-mile walk. But that walk was much more than a stroll. It took teachers in unison wanting to chaperone gaggles of 4th and 5th graders, working with volunteer parents like Mrs. Garza (Isabel’s Mom) and Mr. Trevino (Ruben’s Dad that looked like Tony Orlando some days and Sonny Bono other days), and staying in the good graces of our school principal Mr. Villarreal and his vice-principals, Mr. Perez and Mr. Guzman. Together, they all worked to keep us safe, in control and for the most part, happy.
The anticipation would start to build around Easter with talks about the upcoming field trip, next would be the passing out of permission slips to all the students and constant reminders to everyone to get those permission slips back, signed or risk being left behind to sit in the library with Ms. Bebon, our librarian all day long, returning books to the shelves and helping her keep our library organized and orderly. Permission slips were required and we were also asked to invite our parents to join us. With our rowdy bunch of J.T. Canales Bulldogs, the more adults helping all of us stay focused, the better. We were told to dress accordingly: shorts were allowed, wear caps, good walking “tenny” shoes, pack a good lunch with lots of snacks and bring change for beverages. Ice chests and ice always seem to magically appear on this day and our magicians were parents and teachers planning together.
Continue reading about Rosie’s childhood Zoo adventure in the next issue. Manguera Memories is a series of short stories that will be published in a book this year with proceeds benefiting La Prensa Texas. Read past stories at