Show and Tell was a pretty big deal when I was in 3rd grade at Windsor School. I don’t remember many of the things my classmates brought to school, but I’ve never forgotten a couple of things I took. Once we found a bat. I don’t remember the particulars of how it came to die–did the boys swat it to death? I do remember carefully wrapping up the tiny dark brown body in an old rag so I could take it to school. The wings were paper thin and there was a tiny little finger poking up at the bend in the top of each wing, which puzzled me. We weren’t afraid to touch it. It was cute in an eerie sort of way.
My most prized Show and Tell in 3rd grade was a mole. Dad found it and killed it. We’d never seen a mole before. Gophers, yes. We had plenty of gophers. We had dozens of gopher traps and set them regularly in the yard and in the field where they caused huge problems with the irrigation water and their underground tunnels.
A mole was a sensational find. Small and dark with very short legs ending with claws for scratching underground, it looked like a furry rat with a pointy nose and no eyes. There were eyes, but you could hardly see them and its tail was short like it had been cut off. The mole would fit in the palm of your hand if you held it. We didn’t touch this one. I took it to school in a milk carton that I’d rinsed out, but by the time Show and Tell came, the smell from old milk and a dead mole was enough to put off most of the class. We just passed the carton and everyone held their nose when they peered into the milk carton. I think Mrs. Day was happy when that Show and Tell was over and the carton was closed back up and put outside the classroom door.