A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

First Hour
by Rosemary Eskridge (Jan 2011)

         Eight O’clock, Tuesday morning’s seventh grade science did not start like other Tuesday mornings of the Spring Semester in Mrs. E’s class. In fact no morning had ever started the same way whether it was Tuesday or any other day of the week.

        Langston University had delivered baby goats to have in our classroom. The instructors from Langston had also brought goat sausage and goat’s milk. We were making goat milk ice cream and goat milk cheese. A few weeks before Langston’s instructors had set up an incubator with eggs that were expected to hatch this week.

        The eggs were checked and some pecking had gotten pretty serious. One chick was just getting his head through the shell. The whole class was full of energy and excitement. The goat milk was mixed with sugar, eggs and a little salt. The mixture was poured in the ice cream freezer. The temperature of the milk was recorded and all other data from the living organisms in the room.

        Talking to the class, Mrs. E. was facing the East Wall of our second floor classroom which had eight windows that stretched from the ceiling to nearly the floor. Suddenly the windows bowed inward and a loud explosion was heard. Everything became deathly quiet. A large cloud of smoke just a mile away could be seen from our second story windows. Mrs. E. said quietly, “That can’t be good”. A few minutes later, the intercom blurted and the Principal announced the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building just a little less than one mile away. The Murrah Building was at 6th and Walker; We were in the Classen School of Advanced Studies at 16th and Classen Boulevard.

        The kids and teachers were scared, eight hundred and fifty students and ninety-eight faculty members all wanted to use the few telephones found in the building. Everyone knew someone’s parents or family that worked downtown. The students cried, asked to go to the bath room, wanted to go find their friends or siblings in other classrooms. What would happen next? So many questions, yet, no answers. In the middle of all the chaos, more baby chicks started hatching and the ice cream finished making. The baby goats were allowed to wander in the classroom and were hugged by everyone. Kids were distracted one minute by the baby chickens being hatched and were crying the next minute. The principal said to let the kids go where ever they asked as long as they were orderly. Our room was the refuge. Everyone had heard about the hatching baby chicks. They came to see the 200 gallon aquarium filled with fish. They came to see the three baby goats who loved all the attention. Students sampled the goat milk ice cream which was associated with gasps and chokes and finally, “That’s really good.” A day of chaos, a day of emerging life, a day of unanswered questions. That’s how it was, 9:01 AM. Tuesday, April 19, 1995.

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