A is for .... A's in Arithmetic and Agave!

Ya know, starting school has sure changed since 1953-54.  The rules are all different...well in the State of Texas anyway.  Back then you had to be Six years old before September 1st and had to have your small pox vaccination that left a big ole scab then a quarter size scar...mine ended up as dime size on my shoulder even though they poked my upper arm.  Some kids had to wear a plastic cup over their scab...I didn't...maybe that's why it ended up on my shoulder.  Anyway, back then there was no Pre-School....nope, you turned Six...waited til September 1st and went straight to Real-School starting with First Grade. 

 Here's what I knew about the Letter A....Nothin'!  At least I don't rememer knowing anything about the Alphabet and I surely don't remember knowing that 1+1=2 was called Arithmetic.  But as you can see by my First Grade Report Card, I did learn about Arithmetic, and was pretty good at 1+1=2 with All A's. 

Well, that was a looooong time ago, and I'm sure the first thing I learned about the Letter A was APPLE.  However, we don't grow Apples much in West Texas, so when I think of the Letter A today....It's gotta be Agave.

Chiefly Mexican, agaves grow in the southern and western United States...TEXAS... and in central and tropical South America. They are succulents with a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each ending generally in a sharp point. Along with plants from the related genus Yucca, various Agave species are popular ornamental plants.

Agave grows slowly to flower only once. During flowering, a tall stem or "mast" grows from the center of the leaf rosette and bears a large number of shortly tubular flowers. After development of fruit, the original plant dies, but suckers are frequently produced from the base of the stem, which become new plants.

It is a common misconception that agaves are cacti. They are not related to cacti, nor are they closely related to Aloe whose leaves are similar in appearance.
Agave species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species.

Primarily known for its integral role in the production of tequila, agave juice is becoming popular in Western kitchens for its healthy properties as a diet food and a natural sweetener. Made from the core of the agave plant, agave juice--which is poisonous when raw--is processed by heat and enzymes into agave nectar. Read more: What Is Agave Cactus Juice?

Photos by CollectInTexas Gal copyright 2010

One species of the Agave is the Century Plant

Century Plants bloom only once in their life, the blooming spike is so large and grows so fast that it saps all the resources of the plant, which then dies, leaving a tall wooden seed stalk. The plant is called the "century plant" because of this "once a century" bloom (actually the plant lives an average of 25 years). It was also an important plant to indigenous people, being used for medicines, fiber, needles, and food. The stalk is often used as an ornamental decoration in desert landscaping or as a Christmas Tree.

I'm really happy I learned my ABC's in 1953-54 in the First Grade so that I am well prepared for participating in ...

Jenny Matlock
...I'm even happier that I learned Arithmetic so I knew that the
 Letter A was #1 and the place to Start
Round 2 of Alphabet Thursday with Jenny


  1. What a neat post, so much info packed in here, a history lesson a science lesson all so well written that I read each word and I too am glad you learned your ABC's when you turned six and ran off to school.

  2. Anonymous9/23/2010

    How interesting. I always held the misconception that the agave was a cactus. Guess I better brush up on my A's!

  3. wow! I really know nothing about agave until now. thanks for the info and what a cute pic.

  4. G'morn CTG ~ Oh, the memories of starting school ... yup! Love the pics.

    Very interesting on the plants as had not heard of them before.

    Have a lovely day ~
    TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

  5. Lovely photos...great info.

    Beautiful blog! I'll be back for a better look after class!

  6. Always interesting to read your posts. And I liked remembering back to first grade in the "old" days...smallpox vaccination scab included!


  7. Sue, I so enjoyed this post! As a Texas girl, I too remember my small pox vacination. Scar is still there on my arm! Starting school at age 6 was considered the developmentary appropriate age when a child was ready to read. It puzzles me why our current society pushes for children to be reading in kindergarten and sometimes pre-K now. I could write reams about all of this, but I won't. Suffice it to say I feel young children need to have time to just be children, playing creatively together.
    There is an entire generation of us out there that didn't start school till we were 6.
    ~ Sarah

  8. I just LOVE your 50's school photos! Oh those good old days when getting a new pencil box was the most exciting thing in the world! A = AWESOME!!!

  9. I didn't know anything about the agave. Thanks for the lesson.

  10. I love your photo! This was a super A-WESOME post!

    I'm giving you an "A"!


  11. It so fun that you have your old report cards and school pictures! What a fun way to start alphabee thursdays!

    Thanks for the sweet comment!

  12. I too remember the small pox vaccination. Also remember waiting in line for other vaccinations when the county health nurse came. Took me years to get over the fear of needles (sometimes that fear comes back - Like when my youngest son was in the hospital and needed a morphine drip. I passed out while they were putting in the IV. Nurses banned me from viewing any more medical procedures!)

    Love your report card. I have mine somewhere and it reflects a "conduct" grade that wasn't an "A". Seems that even then I enjoyed visiting with my friends a little too much. I think today it would be called "networking"!

    As usualy your post is wonderful.

  13. Well this is definitely the most educational of all the alphabe-Thursday posts I've read tonight. Love the Christmas pic enormously!!

  14. I started school in the 60's and I, too, remember that nasty shot I got in the shoulder with the scar to prove it.

    Thank you for the education on Agave. I knew it was used for tequila and I knew that recently you can find Agave syrup/juice in most stores but I didn't know that it had to be chemically altered for human consumption.

  15. This post was SO interesting. I have a friend who uses agave as her main sweetener, and I had no idea what that was. Thanks for the mini-education today. :-)

    p.s. I always wished I went to school in the fifties. Now that I know about the scar, I'm not so sure.

  16. Hi Sue, I never know what I will see when I visit you. This is certainly unexpected and totally interesting. I was an October baby and waited a whole year before I could go to school. I pestered my mom to teach me to read and when I started school I was way ahead of the kids in my class. Thanks mom!!! I never had any trouble making 'A's' My mom was the best teacher. Smile. We didn't have paper to spare so I wrote on the edges of the newspaper. How simple life was back then. I never gave a thought to writing on the newspaper. Kids today need 'everything NOW' my grands included.

    Now for the 'A'gave plant. Who knew about this? Not me. Very interesting Sue. I did know about the century plant. Thanks for the info, I enjoyed learning about the uses of the agave plant.
    Hugs, Jeanne

  17. Now I learned something that I didn't know!! I spent about 10 years in Texas growing up but we were between Galveston and Houston. I didn't know about agave plants! Nor the Century Plant!

    I loved your report card and picture. I will say school is very different now than it was when I started Kindergarten at age 5!

    Thanks for sharing the letter A!!

  18. Wow, Smarty! What I remember about MY first report cards: lacks self discipline. WHAT was THAT all about? Maybe the teachers thought I looked bored. You were a cute little girl. Have a peachy weekend, Sue!

  19. Things were the same up here, way-back-when, and I have the smallpox vaccination scar to show for it.
    Agave - all new to me, so thank you for the interesting post!

  20. oh i love your report card. it looks in perfect condition. and a's too for a little girl. go you!

  21. What a nifty blog. And what a beautiful smile you have! AND where did you get that sunface in your header? I adore that.

  22. Hi Sue!

    Welcome to Alphabe-Thursday! And what a wonderful job you did on this post to welcome us to your blog.

    I love the architectural elements of agave in the landscape. When I used to visit the ancient towns in Mexico, I was always intriqued with the fields of them there.

    What a darling child you were...you are still gorgeous, though. I guess good genetics must run in your family.

    And your mention of the small pox vaccinations made me admire, yet again, the large scar that still resides on my upper arm.

    Thank you for linking.

    Visiting your blog was an absolutely joy!


  23. As I read about Agave, I was wondering why I knew that plant...then I made the tequila connection.....I liked this post...your pictures on your blog are wonderful too!

  24. Hey sister girl, I usually come to your blog as with most these days and think "I just want to pop in and say Hi because I'm missing you", but when I get here, I have the hardest time leaving cause you TEACH me stuff! And it don't even hurt!


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