Valentine Protocol, Penmanship, and Pride

I wish my artwork was (is) this good.

I wish my artwork was (is) this good.

When I was a little girl, I loved February:  Valentine’s Day is in February.  So was my birthday; that’s a story for another day.

My whole class got ready for Valentine’s Day for weeks.  Everyone brought a shoebox to school, and we decorated it with crêpe paper flowers and hearts. I had lots of shoe-boxes to pick from on account of everyone getting new hard sole shoes at Baldy’s shoe store way back in September, special for school starting.

Art stuff was hard for me.  I got paste all stuck in my hair and all over my clothes.  I liked to taste paste, too.  The smell got all up in my nose and begged my fingers to put some in my mouth. Yummy.  Teacher said it was no good and would make me sick, but it never did.  Not even a little bit.

Mom brought home little store-bought cards in big bags from the grocery store, and I printed MY name on the back.  Then I got to choose which card went to each student in my class.  I had two Bettys in my class and two Lindas.  I’ve heard about kids being sore or sad that they didn’t receive a card on Valentine’s Day.   I gave a card to everyone, and I got one from everyone, too. That’s just mean to leave someone out.  Who  got which card was the tricky part.  I wanted to make sure I express my love for that certain someone in just the right way.  Should Frankie’s say “Be Mine” or “Forever Yours”?  And what if Frankie’s to me just said, “Friends”?  What if he gave me the ‘teacher’ card that came in every box?  That would be the worst ’cause that meant he never even thought about which card he gave me.

I almost flunked out of Kindergarten ’cause I went haywire on my writing.  Valentine’s Day saved me.  All year, up until I had to get my cards ready for the party, I wrote my name  wrong.   Mom talked about my printing to everyone who would listen:   all my aunts, Grandma Z, and even Betty’s and Nancy’s moms.

Mom said, “Why do you write your name like you’re looking in a mirror?”IMG_2812

I looked at my name, clear as day, just the way it was supposed to be.  What in the world was she talking about?  I wrote just like everybody else.

Mom said I had to get my name right or I might not go to First Grade.  She never said that to me; I just heard Continue reading

Mrs. Brown, Can’t Get Me Down

When I was a little girl it was important to be nice. Captain Kangaroo told me the magic words: “Abracadabra, Please and Thank you.” If I forgot, Mom or Dad reminded me, “Now what are the magic words?”

DSC00428In Kindergarten, I had a bunch of teachers, one at a time, most of the names I forgot, but I remember Mrs. Brown. She was mean.

Deanna had Mrs. Markley, she was just like a grandma, so nice. For some reason Mrs. Markley was out of school when I got to Kindergarten, I never figured out why; I thought maybe she died, ’cause teachers lived in the school, so if she wasn’t there, she must have died. But the next year, Mrs. Markley was back; all the rest of the kids in my family had Mrs. Markley. Maybe she just went on a long vacation the year I was in Kindergarten.

The new teacher, Mrs. Brown was not nice. She was nothing like a grandma.  Mrs. Brown was mean.

Mrs. Brown told me I had to drink white milk, no chocolate milk, even if that’s what Mom wrote down for me to order. “We don’t need to bother Mr. Rex with all these special orders.” Mrs. Brown told the class. Mr Rex always smiled when he delivered the milk. He was Continue reading

Rules? Whose rules?

When I was a little girl, playtime I had was pretty much unsupervised.  I could roam the fields, walk over to my friend Betty’s house, or play ball at Mike’s with his brother and sister, and the rest of the neighborhood kids.  I dared to go down Terry Lane with Nancy and Dougie, and built villages in the brush with Tommy and Bonita.  Of course we had rules.  Some got handed out by parents, some were rules of the games, some we made up by ourselves.

“Walk on the left side of the road,” Mom said.  “So you can see what’s coming.” Continue reading

Who Rules the Roost?

I just read a great article in The New Yorker:   Spoiled Rotten, by Elizabeth Kolbert. “Why do kids rule the roost?”  

 Oh my, that question would never even be thought of when I was a little girl.  Not in my family, anyways.  Kids were there to make things easier on the adults. Even Little Kids helped out as much as they could.

Big Kids had jobs:  mowing lawn, washing dishes, setting table, dustGirls carrying water, Angleseying, sweeping, helping with the Little Kids.  When a Little Kid lost something, which was just about every day, everybody jumped up and looked for it.  Nobody wanted to see

Continue reading

Just Like Dad

When I was a little girl, I really, really wanted to be like dad.  Perhaps it was because dads went off to work.  Perhaps it was because dads, are, well dads are tougher than moms.   Anyways, my dad was a challenge to me.  I always did like a challenge.

Nobody at school ever asked, “What does your Mom do?”  Everybody knew.  Moms are moms; that’s what they do.  Moms do stuff that make home homey:  washing and folding laundry; sewing clothes; weeding gardens and canning vegetables; giving out jobs to kids; and making sure everybody minds their Ps and Qs and has good manners.  Moms are there for kids.

Dads were different.  Dads went off and did stuff nobody saw, only heard about.  My best-friend-blood-sister Connie’s dad was a principal at a High School.  My best-friend-from-the-bus, Betty’s dad worked in the Shop making Buicks.  My friend Eddie’s dad was a farmer.  My dad fixed people’s phones.  That was the best job in the whole wide world.  For one thing, everybody needs a phone, and for another thing, my dad got to meet all kinds of interesting people and see right inside their houses and their lives.  AND my dad was a farmer, too.  He got to spend a Continue reading