Last year, I shared my very first poem with you that I wrote when I was four years old. And at that time, I told you how my granddaddy who raised me was a citrus inspector after he retired from the Air Force. Needless to say, because of his job, not to mention the numerous various types of citrus trees in our yard and the spacious orange grove next door, I grew up drinking lots of orange juice, eating lots of oranges, and even wearing lots of orange blossom perfume.
So, by the time I was in the fourth grade, it only stood to reason that I would write my report on — what else? Oranges! (Actually, we were each assigned a state, then we had to write about its most popular export. How lucky that I happened to get chosen to write about the state where I lived.)
The thing I remember most about writing this report was also the thing I loved best. (No, it wasn’t oranges.) Using my creativity to make that cover was so much fun! (The actual report, not so much.)
Back then, we didn’t have computers. Heck, we didn’t even have colored ink jet paper! So, I had to first cut a sheet of green construction paper down to the size of a sheet of notebook paper. (As you can see, I also didn’t own a paper cutter other than scissors and my little hands!)
How funny that I made the F in Florida be the state flag, and I made the O be a sun (because it’s The Sunshine State). Looking back, it’s too bad that no one made me use a ruler as a guide to get my letters even!
I have no idea why I thought it was acceptable to make the E in “flower” extend into an arrow to point to the orange blossom. I’d shoot myself in the foot before I’d ever do that now!
The map was the tricky part. As I said, we didn’t have computers back then, and we also didn’t just have a disposable atlas that I could have cut up. So, I used a sheet of carbon paper (What’s that?!), and put the brown construction paper and carbon paper behind a page in a book, then I put a sheet of tracing paper (What’s that, too?!) over the page in the book, and I traced my state (including a couple of key waterways and Lake Okeechobee). Then I cut it out, added the state capital, and voila! How fun! Not to break my arm patting myself on the back, but as you can see, my teacher thought I did a great job, too, as I got a 100 A+ for the cover.
The report (which I cited as having done my research in The World Book, volume N-O) reads as follows:
“The orange is the most important of all citrus fruit. We have two kinds of oranges. One is the sweet orange which is thought to be grown in Southern China. The other is the Seville orange, grown in America. The orange tree has dark green leaves which do not fall off with the seasons. Its flowers are white and wax like. For hundreds of years, the orange blossom has been a symbol or marriage. The orange tree can grow to be thirty feet tall, and can resist moderate cold and extreme hot temperatures. The average size orange is 3½ inches in diameter. There are almost one million acres of oranges grown in Florida, the largest orange producing state. Each tree produces between 3,000 and 4,000 oranges per season. They are a source of vitamin C and are used in foods and drinks, and in perfumes. The peel can be candied and also used as food for cattle.”
Isn’t that hilarious that this report was fewer than 160 words, yet it took me three pages to write (and it felt like it took an eternity!). I only got a 97 A on the report because I didn’t use paragraphs.
At any rate, no, Grandma didn’t save all of my reports and school work, but I think she saved this because it was about Granddaddy’s beloved oranges. (Oddly, with all the bags of citrus he used to bring home, I don’t think I can recall a time that I ever saw him actually eat an orange!)
So let’s talk: Do you ever look back on any of your old work and wonder what you were thinking? Do you know your state’s biggest export or source of income? Did you ever use tracing paper or carbon paper, or a combination thereof?