Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Before school was out the next day, I got a note from Spears asking me to come to his office as soon as school was out. He had often asked for favors, usually to have me sub on my free period for some teacher who was out sick. I thought it was something of that nature or to make refreshments for some meeting he was having. His first question was," Where were you this weekend?" I wanted to ask, " Who wants to know?, but I proceeded to tell him about my activities. Then he shocked me with," The townspeople wondered who was bringing you to school early in the morning. It did not look good, and they wondered where you had spent the night".
I explained that Ted, the fellow who had helped me at the Halloween party, had stayed at the YMCA. Then he dropped the bomb. "Are you going to marry him?" as if to imply, "From what we have seen, you should."
I threw back my head and said,"As a matter of fact I am." I told him it would probably be after school would be out in June and that we would live near Fort Bragg. It was legally my notice.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Saturday, November 2, 2013
After taking a few years away from this blog, I find I am closer ninety than I had thought I would be at the end of the story. . The pause was not intended. Several things happened. We decided to go on another mission. As I read through my last posting I realized I was not in the right frame of mind to finish. Often I would lie in bed thinking of how I would write my next blog. If sleep did not come right away, I would get up, write an experience and try again to get back to sleep. When I realized I had written the same experience twice, I knew it was time to get my mind on something else, especially the learning of Spanish, since we had been called to Spain. It was our fifth mission, and I knew missionary work would be my whole life for two years.
The next post was to tell all the details of falling in love and committing to marriage in one long weekend. It is a good story, but it will be the next post after this. My soldier boy proved to be the best fiance, the best husband, father and grandfather on the planet. Maybe I should add son-in-law and brother-in-law, because my family has loved him too. We had another year in the army at Fort Bragg. Then it was graduate school at Brigham Young University and the U. of N.M. in Albuquerque making perfect grades, becoming the favorite of a world recognized professor who coached him through paleography and writing an outstanding dissertation translated from 15th century Spanish script. Ted later translated the journal of the first Europeans in our state and added to the history used today.
He has been a leader in our church serving as a bishop to students at the university and counselor to three other bishops. He has enjoyed teaching and being involved in helping others, especially young people, appreciate the heritage we have. Now that he is suffering from severe dementia, many of his former students and colleagues stop by the house to help him remember the good times they had and the influence he has been on their lives. It is a good time. We have lived in many parts of the world, taken many people in our home from all over the world to live. We have saved enough to live well. Yes, it is a good time, and we feel we have a few more good years left. I have 50 tulips left to plant today and I will get back to the story tomorrow.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
By the time I had worked at Duke University Hospital a year, in March '52, I was ready for a new challenge. I was enjoying my church work and my frtiends there more than the hospital staff. I was still president of the Relief Society and also teaching all the young women in the small branch, four of them who came regularly. A fifth, the oldest child of Dr. Reuben Hill came from Chapel Hill with her father's graduate student, Joel Moss and his wife. Joel got his doctorate in Family Science and taught at BYU where we see him often. Rueben was a pioneer in the field, and had written the college text, The Family, which we had used in college.
An announcement of a distrrict church activity to be held always brought my four regulars begging to be taken to the affair. This was a Saturday afternoon workshop to be followed by a formal dance in the evening. The venue was a beautiful new chapel about two hours away near Greensboro. I was not confident enough of my driving to do it, but they recruited a senior boy more than willing. I actually looked forward to the day because I had seen a tall, dark, handsome fellow from Colorado who had just come to Greensboro to teach in a college there. My best friend from church, Pat Dowdy, a student at Duke, had met him and was unimpressed.. He had unusually long hair on top which he would fling around when he played the piano. Pat called the virturoso The Hair, but I was not interested in anyone else, and I was interested in his new light blue convertable.
His name was Stan Kimball, and I thought he was very handsome. We talked for quite a while when a soldier from Fort Bragg brought over a friend to introduce to me. He quickly asked me if I were . interested in the dance workshop. Stan had other plans, so Ted and I joined the dance workshop, at the end of which Ted asked me if I would accompany him to the formal dance in the evening. Wanting to reconnect with Stan, I told him I would see him there, because I had borrowed formals from all my friends for my teens to wear to their first formal dance, and anticipated quite a trial getting them sorted out, pinned together and settled in a place most likely to attract a partner. Stan saw me first and we had started the first dance when Ted and his buddies arrived. A whirl or two around the floor and Ted cut in. Stan was waitng when that dance was over, bur we had barely got into the second one when Ted cut in again, Stan only tried to dance with me one more time and gave up. I couldn't believe it, such rudeness! Still he was cute, and at intermission Stan performed on the piano. I decided he was not so cute. Before the evening was over Ted had my address and asked if he could write to me. What a snow job. It was almost funny. As he walked me to my car where Harold Glasgow had the four girls fighting over who would sit in the middle in front, he told me he intended to marry me. I ended the arguement by sitting in the middle in front myself, and the girls didn't like it a bit.
Fast forward twenty years. Stan married a girl from NC, Violet Tew. He became a history professor like Ted. His mom tried hard to get him hired at BYU, but Ted was chairman of the dept. and still competetive. His mom, Vontella, was a very striking woman, dark and stately. She had impressed President Ernest Wilkinson, and after offering to work free, he brought her on board as a public relations expert. She had actually been visiting Stan and was present at the dance the night I met Ted..
The second year we were here at BYU I was president of the newcomers, a group I was helping to orient to the campus social life. I called Vontella, reminded her that we had met in Greensboro, back in '52, and asked her to speak to the group after our dinner. She began by telling them how we had met..." my son was dancing with her at a ball when she was a debutante in North Carolina!" I nearly choked thinking about my "coming out". I guess my only coming out was from the tobacco field. The best kind of coming out!!
I was not looking very hard. I had moved ten miles north of Durham to Mangum to teach in the high school, but i was still going in to Durham to work in the hospital on weekends. I was Relief Society president in my church, as well as teaching all the young women every week.
My four girls desperately wanted to go to a district festival in Winston Salem, so I broke my ties with the hospital and took them. They had never been to a formal dance before. I found formals of mine and from my old roommates and we drove the two hours Saturday morning. There were dance classes in the afternoon and other fun activities.
In the dance class I saw a guy all the girls my age had been talking about, Stan Kimball. He was a new arrival in the district, teaching at a college in Charlotte. He was tall, dark and handsome, and he came over to me and introduced himself. He said he would see me at the dance that night and left. Then Bob Leonard, a soldier I had met earlier, brought over a tall skinny fellow named Ted Warner, and introduced him. Ted asked me to join him in the dance class. He was well dressed, not at all like a soldier. His clothes, a gray wool slacks and navy cashmere sweater looked new and his shoes were expensive black, not the GI brown; I was impressed. As we danced he asked me to be his partner at the dance that night. I had been hoping to dance with Stan.
I told him about the teenagers I had to get dressed up and said I would see him there.
Vontella Kimball had just been appointed assistant to President Wilkinson, his social assistant. Someone said he had only met her once, and was so impressed by her he took her up on her offer to work for a dollar a year. I thought what a perfect speaker to have for the fall social. When I introduced her I told about meeting her in NC, and she began her remarks she confirmed that she had met me there when she went to visit her son, Stan, and that I was a debutante!
Well, let's see, when was it I "came out"? Must have been 1950 when I "came out" of the tobacco field!!
Vontella was only here a year. Several years later when Ted was chairman of the history department, she dropped in to tell him Stan was professor of history and was very interested in teaching at BYU. Stan married Violet Tew from NC and they lived in Illinois. He did teach one summer at BYU and we gave a party for them.
In a few days after we met I got a letter telling me he had obtained a weekend pass and wanted to come to see me. The letter had a heavy object pinned inside, his paratrooper wings. I thought they were the ones he had presented to him when he finished training, but discovered he had sent them to his mom and hurridley bought a pair for me at the PX.
In those days girls wore their boyfriend's frat pins. He had been a Bricker at BYU, and soon his mom sent his pin so I could wear it on my sweaters.
In two weeks it was Halloween. He would come on Friday afternoon and go back Monday. It became a very interesting weekend, which I will detail in my next blog. When he went back Monday we were engaged to be married!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
A week before the end of the spring quarter I went to a dance with some other girls. It was one of the famous bands of the era and I didn't care if I danced. We always saw a few servicemen at the dances. You could tell, even if they were not in uniform, because they all wore the same G I shoes.. One asked me to dance and I had a rather nice time dancing with him all evening. I must have told him where I lived, and when I was going home for the week's break, because at the end of one very hard day on the tobacco farm I decided to check out a bay tree which had large blooms. It is related to magnolia and smells heavenly. I came in from the fields with an arm full to make a bouquet for the living room and to my surprise he was there in our yard.
This would have presented a problem except that I was not afraid to tell Daddy that we were going to a movie. He was down at the pier with some fishing buddies. We just marched down there and I introduced Phil Brown to him and said, "We are going to the show!" Just like that!
Mama told me the next day he was really hurt that I didn't ask his permission. I told her I would never ask his permission. I did not want another penny from him, and he did not need to control me. I shouldn't have been so sassy, but it felt good. Phil was really handsome, like Tom Cruz, with a great personality and that same smile. With a bit more hair he could have doubled.
He is probably bald now!! He played football for Cherry Point Marine Air Station. He had a friend who was dating Lois Johnson, my friend from church. Phil had a car, so they came up to college to see us a lot that summer.
In the fall I was student teaching. I was still doing the evening clinic at the infirmary, and reading to the blind girls at night. Phil was coming up about every Saturday, but one weekend he was supposed to have a game down in South Carolina. I had responded to a letter I received from Sugar Man, my old high school boyfriend who was desperate to see me. I told him he could come up on Sunday, but when Phil's game got canceled I completely forgot about it. We sat in the parlor all afternoon where he helped me with a cut-out project I was working on. When it was time to go to church we started walking to his car and who should we meet but my old friend. I greeted him and asked what he was doing so far from home, and when he said he had come to see me, I introduced him to Phil and invited him to go to church with us. It felt good to see him stood up in such a way. I told Phil I had not seen him in three years, since he fell for Christine! Later I heard he had been drafted and wanted to apologize to me before he entered the army. I also heard he got a ticket for speeding on his way home.
This is not the end of Sugar Man. There was another correspondence about the time I became engaged to be married. There was a picture of him in his uniform, and a plea for me to begin writing him because he was going to be discharged soon. What an ego this guy had!
My letter was very short. " I am engaged to be married to Ted J. Warner on June 19th. He is also a soldier, a paratrooper stationed at Ft. Bragg. Glad your hitch is over. Good luck!"
Saturday, June 26, 2010
I was bitter for a while, and determined I would not even go home my last summer. At the end of the summer Daddy told me I could order some fabric from the sears catalog to make a couple of dresses. That was my pay for the whole summer. I don't think I even left the farm, no church, no contact with other young people other than my brothers.
At the end of my junior year I announced that I had enough credits to graduate in March, if I could go to summer school. "We need you on the farm", was met with my next announcement that my grades were high enough I could borrow the money to finish college, but if I did not go to summer school, I could not possibly graduate in June. Early graduation was made possible by taking an extra class each summer term. The home management class was usually taught in the regular semester, and no student could hold down a part time job while living in the home management house. By electing to take it first summer term, I only missed six weeks of work in the health center, which gave me my meal tickets. So, with taking an extra class each term I was able to accumulate 24 quarter hours that summer. All I had left was student teaching in the fall and a final quarter after Christmas where I picked up an extra class. I was finally independent !
There was a very short sort of romance the fall of my junior year. I had met two boys down in Tabor City where Chris and Ellen lived, brothers, Bobby and Albert (Ab) Wright. They both joined the marines and were stationed at Le Jeune right near Swansboro, so Ab took a bus one Sunday and came to spend the day. He mentioned that sometime he and Bobby would like to come up to East Carolina to a dance when a big band was playing. He wrote that four of them were going to drive up, and asked if the other girls and I would buy the tickets to save on having to buy them at the door. With expensive Tommy Dorsey tickets on our hands we learned the base was on alert and the boys couldn't come. There was nothing left to do but go early and try to unload them on someone who wanted a bargain at the door. I remember that it was very easy to get my money back, but there were lots of girls going alone so I sat on the side lines not prepared to dance at all. Immediately a very tall handsome guy asked me to dance. I was surprised because there were so many really pretty girls he might have asked. His name was Charles Lloft from New Jersey and he had just graduated from Bucknell in engineering. He had just come to Greenville to supervise the installation of a new turbine in the power plant. We hit it off immediately, and at intermission he asked me to show him around campus. As we walked by the lane leading back to the dance he showed me his new car, the very first Ford sold after the war. I was so impressed! We sat in his car and talked until the dorm had closed. I was petrified of being locked out, but Chris knew I would never be late on purpose and was waiting with the window up for me to ask her to open the back door.
We had both worked very hard to go to college. He was from a poor family, too. His mother was barely literate and he was embarrassed of her handwriting, but she wrote him every week. Before we realized how late it was, he discovered I knew nothing about his passion, football, and invited me to go to Raleigh to a game in a couple of weeks. We went to a dinner where he ate lobster and being a fish hater I ate spaghetti. I discovered that I had very little interest in football, even with a varsity player explaining it to me. He wanted to meet my family and thought it very peculiar that I would not arrange it. I knew a neighbor from Swansboro who was a student at East Carolina. I introduced him and his wife. They invited us to their apartment to play cards one evening. I didn't know how to play cards either! But I did convince him that I did have parents and that Daddy would no longer support me if he knew I was dating someone. Then Charles asked me, "What happened to the guy who stood you up the night at the dance?" Then I knew why he had asked me to dance. He felt sorry for me! I think that was our last date. He went home for his best friend's wedding the next weekend and every weekend after that he went home for something; must have met someone interesting at the wedding!
The teacher in my clothing class felt sorry for me. She had become very angry with me for bringing a radio to listen to while we had a make-up session in the lab on Saturday. We didn't think she was going to be there, said she wouldn't, but when she walked in and heard that "modern" music she was shaking all over. She called me in her office and told me how much she detested it. Supervising a dance when it was her turn put her in bed for the weekend. I was very humble. The next week she called me in to give me a suitcase full of old fashioned clothes she didn't wear any more, saying she knew I could remodel them for myself. Can't remember what I did with them, but I didn't ever wear them. My friends thought it was a big insult. They liked me for myself, not my wardrobe. I really didn't have time to make them over with the three jobs I had, and all my school work.
There was one other guy who was interested in me that year. It was the strangest experience of my whole time in college. When I went to work one afternoon, Mrs. Cherry met me at the front door. Before I went in she said to wait, there was someone in there to see me, and she thought she should warn me. I did not recognize him at first. It was a distant cousin I had seen a few times at church when I was still in high school, Mr. Claude Stroud. I thought he was at least 80 then, and had a wife who looked 100 and wore an old fashioned bonnet tied under the chin.
He immediately stood, and taking me by the hand, led me to the couch in the waiting room where he proceeded to tell me about the death of his wife and his need to get married again. He had come to court me! I tried to be very emphatic in refusing his attentions, told him I had a lot of work to do, wished him well and led him to the door. The nurses could hardly believe it, and neither could I!
Friday, May 28, 2010
In my "nineteen lives" bit earlier, I told about a near drowning accident with a boy named Paul Riggs.
We corresponded the summer after HS graduation and all through our freshman year. He was a student at a 2 yr religious college, Brevard. As soon as we got home for the summer we doubled with his cousin Sonne Odum and his girlfriend to a movie, after which they left Paul and me at my house where we sat in the swing on the front porch. We found very little to talk about. After a long period of silence he asked me, "How are your daddy's crops?" I heard a stifled laugh coming from inside the living room, just under the window next to the swing. Paul didn't stay long and walked home. He had a summer job delivering ice. Each week he put a block in our box on the back porch. It was a luxury we had until I was 22 and bought Mama an electric refrigerator and gas stove with the first money I earned at Duke.
My brothers had been evesdropping on our scintillating conversation in the swing. They had laughed about it all weekend. Miss Helen got a full report, and when Paul came to the back porch with the ice, Miss Helen, around the corner of the porch and with a high voice laughingly asked, "How are your crops?" Paul's face went as red as a beet. I didn't know what to say, so I just stood there in shock. He never called again, and at Christmas he came home from Brevard for good. Bill reported having seen him downtown. He gave Bill a message for me, that he had flunked out of college. Said he thought I would be glad to hear it!
I really wanted to explain to him that it was my brothers, but I didn't know how. I was too insecure. A summer romance down the drain.
Beginning my soph year I really didn't care if I had dates. Chris was still very popular, but Ellen never dated because she had a boyfriend at home, Earl, whom she married just before graduating. One of the girls asked if I would go on a blind date one night. I wasn't anxious to go, but she said he was a very nice boy, son of a minister. I was flattered that she thought it would be a plus in my eyes. I got a quick look at him as we left, thought he was cute, but it was sheer darkness the rest of the night, Within a few minutes the driver had gone down a lane in a pine woods, stopped and said he had blankets for all of us, and a big jug of purple stuff they called Purple Jesus (half grape juice and half vodka) and paper cups.
When my date got out of the car and I didn't, he got back in, wanting to know what was wrong.
I was pretty irritated, but in the nicest way I could, I told him I had never been on a date with
anyone in such a place. I told him I couldn't remember what he looked like, and I would prefer to get acquainted in the car. "I am a pretty good conversationalist"I said, "and if you want to talk, I think that would be fun." It was, and the time went fast. I didn't want to put him down, but I certainly did not want to go out with him again. I was surprised to have him call me the next day and apologize. He asked me to a movie, promising me he did know how to show a nice girl a good time. I declined in a very nice way. There was a voice telling me something I would never have thought of, that he might get me in a position where he would force me on that blanket.
A few days later my suspicions were confirmed. A guy on campus came up to me and said, "Hey, I hear you are a pretty hot number on a blanket at a PJ party!" So he had made fun of me, after all! I didn't even respond, not a look nor a word.
Not being popular definitely has its advantages sometimes.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
With Christine being the most beautiful and most modest girl on campus, I occasionally had random dates through her boyfriends. The first month, in September, the campus newspaper featured the three most beautiful new freshmen. She was one of the three, but she never seemed aware of her unusual beauty. The second time I went home Chris and Ellen went home with me. I had told them that my home was very humble. The three of us slept in my parents' bed in the living room and my parents slept in my single bed for the one night. We went to a movie with the boy I had a crush on in high school. He had been my only date my senior year. I was senior class president, and at the senior banquet I had to give a speech. I told my dad I had to have a formal dress (true!) and an escort ( stretching a bit ). He said I could ask James Grady, a very cute guy all the girls had a crush on whose nick name was "Sugar Man".
Two senior boys asked me, but I hesitated because I honestly didn't think Daddy was going to let me go with a boy. I would have been so humiliated to have him drive me there and wait outside for the banquet to be over. S. M. had flirted with me for a year, and since he lived on the adjoining farm had even stolen a kiss once, but he knew my daddy! One day he said, "Arthur said if I could get a date with you, he would lend me his car." My dream was answered. Although Daddy said I had to be home 15 minutes after the banquet ended, I suspected that would provide enough time for some quick kisses before the last stretch where my dad would surely watch our approach to the house.
I was completely uneducated in the intimacy game. When I was probably 14 or 15 I was with a bunch of kids my age at a summer outing with my brothers when a boy I didn't even know grabbed me and bestowed my first kiss. It was not completely gross, and I admit I looked forward to the time when someone I liked would find me that attractive. I don't know if my first crush was enamored, probably wasn't, but a new student, Evelyn Jones, showed us pictures of her classmates, and when I saw the picture of of a blond curly headed boy named Wilbur Eubanks, I was bowled over. Evelyn said, "Daddy is letting me have a party for my 16th birthday, and I will invite him." At the party we played kissing games. I thought it was completely insane. A kiss should really mean something.
All of us had numbers. If your number was called you went outside behind the chimney where you were kissed, I managed to avoid all callers, including Evelyn's father ( so gross! ), by telling them I didn't play kissing games, but when Wilbur called my number, I am sure he did not even see who I was in the dark. I stood still with my arms crossed and he planted one right on my tightly closed lips and told me another number to fetch!
After that night I managed to avoid parties. Boys avoided me pretty much, too. I was excited to see S.M. when Chris and Ellen came home with me that fall. The next week Chris got a letter from S.M. (James Grady) telling her he had fallen completely head over heels in love with her and wanted to come to see her at college immediately. She never answered his letter, and when i saw him about a year later he was very sheepish. That was not the end of Sugar Man, nor Wilbur who showed up at the end of my senior year in high school. He was a new member of the Church and at a big dance in Wilmington he did not seem to remember ever having seen me before. I did not let him know I was Evelyn Jones friend or classmate, and neither of us ever mentioned the party. I am sure he did not remember the kissing game. Wilbur was a very gifted pianist, untrained, but a fine classical artist who ended up with his own radio program every Sunday afternboon when he played requests. He always played a piece for me, Doris,the cute freshman girl at East Carolina. He went to Atlantic Christian College, and occasionally took a bus to see me on weekends to take me to a special dance. We were good friends, but not the kissing kind. We both enjoyed our church connection and there was no apology needed when he showed up at a conference with a fiance. Se la vie!!
James didn't show up again until my senior year at East Carolina. That was very interesting. Many boys in between. but I knew I was waiting for somebody really special.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I also got a lecture about our room. Ellen and Chris had gone to the Baptist Church, so there was nobody there. The door was unlocked, and they went in to look around. The beds were unmade and on the desk was a copy of God's Little Acre. I convinced them it wasn't mine. I wouldn't waste my money on trash. What was also true but unspoken - we had all read it and were about to take it back to the girls next door.
Joe's mom continued to pressure me. When I graduated he was still there finishing his masters. Two years later I was married and he was teaching in Pinehurst. His mother was still living with him and we all became good friends, because we comprised almost half the membership in the Rockingham Branch, and we got into the habit of picking them up every Sunday for church. Joe still didn't have a car.
Twenty years after we left Southern Pines we had a call from a BYU student who said she was Joe's daughter. She came to visit us, and when her parents came we had them all to dinner. I heard that her parents divorced. I wonder whatever happened to Debbie Sue.
In March of 1947 a fashion show in Paris by The House Of Dior rocked the world with a collection they called The New Look. Women have always been slaves to fashion, and at that time dress hems were measured to the bend of the knee in back. The two I made to take to college were that short. Not being an avid newspaper and magazine reader, and being totally absorbed with farm work all summer, I missed all the fuss. There was a big dance for the freshmen and friends, like Big Sisters, etc., and I went, because it was not a date affair. There I saw my big sister for the first time since our escapade in the rain the Sunday I arrived. She and a friend were wearing the most amazing black dresses, a little longer in the back and reaching to within eight inches of the floor. Very slinky! They both wore very sheer black stockings and very high heel patent leather pumps. All of these features were new. Stockings had always been flesh colored. Nylons, which were introduced a year before the war had not been available for five years. I turned 16 during the war and started wearing shoes with some heel and stockings made of rayon which made your legs look like glass. Silk stockings, which had been available, and very expensive, were made in the orient. We could get nothing from Asia, spices like black pepper and cinnamon, even rubber for auto tires, we just did without. I have never even owned a pair of silk stockings. The ones we did have had seams up the back, a pain to keep straight.
The first weeks of that first quarter had everyone speculating about how long it would take the fashion industry and our students to catch up with the rest of the world. Every day we saw a few more girls wearing long dresses. Articles in the school paper were polarized. Some girls were quoted saying they would never ever wear the dresses that long. Articles and pictures from the wire affirmed that they were, all over the world. Although the polls showed that men hated them, and most girls agreed they hid their best feature, before Thanksgiving the majority of girls on our campus wore them. Chris could afford to buy longer dresses, and she gave me the ones she didn't want, which came down long enough for me.
Seriously, I would not have returned after Christmas if all I had were short skirts. Only one girl defied fashion, the girl with the prettiest legs on campus, always tanned and strutting in front of the college band in her little twirly drum majorette's costume. Helen showed up after Thanksgiving in her same short skirts. It drew protests from the other girls, an article in the school paper with a little chiding and a challenge to "get in step", which she did.
One of my favorite displays in the dress collection of the V&A in London is the the one on THE NEW LOOK showing many of the dresses I remember and wore for ten years. When hems started to rise, they came up with a vengeance until in the seventies skirts barely hid the underwear. Pants had not become fashionable for school and work until the late seventies.
I was not interested in having a boyfriend that first year, but there was a single guy in church, Joe Jenkins, hardly a boy, as he was a veteran who had served in the Navy and was around 30. His mother persuaded me to go out with him, so we went to a drive-in movie with another couple. He held my hand the whole time and actually sound like he was panting. It was such a strange sound. Perhaps he had a respiratory problem. It was a miserable night. I could not bear the thoughts of going with him again. On Sunday he walked me home from church. I could not think of a way to avoid it, and he kept grabbing my hand until I just decided to endure it for three blocks.
My parents had decided to drive up to see how I was getting along. They had been to my room, waited a while, and decided I must be in church since my sentence had been lifted, so they parked out on the street and watched me walk by their car holding hands with Joe. They saw me go into my dorm and the scene which followed was not pretty!
Friday, May 7, 2010
Daddy was one smart cookie. He figured out that if he signed it, I could leave any time I wanted, as long as I signed out properly saying where I would be visiting. Neither of us realized his signature was required even to go home for the weekend!
At the end of the six weeks I picked up an "Off Campus Permit" from the dean's secretary, filled it out, stuck it in my mirror (instead of returning it immediately to the office) and did not think
about it again until Saturday morning when I was on the bus going home. I had told them in my letter what time the bus would deliver me to Deep Run.
The moment I remembered my permit was still stuck in the mirror, I must have let out a moan and looked in agony, because the girl sitting beside me on the bus asked me what was wrong. When I explained my dilemma she said it was very serious. I could get expelled! She had been chairman of the womens' judiciary the year before, and knew how the trial worked for girls who broke the rules. She suggested that we ask the bus driver to stop at the next gas station so we could use the phone. I talked to Miss Morton, who gave me a stern warning. I was instructed to have my father bring me to her office Sunday night to varify that I had been with my parents all weekend, and as a little parting news she informed me that I did not even have permission to leave campus. My dad had not returned the form, written a note giving his permission for me to leave - nothing!
It was a miserable weekend. Sunday night Daddy assured Miss Morton that I was with them from the time I stepped off the bus. She explained to him that every time I went home he would have to write a letter giving his permission, and that he should trust me to have a general permit like all other students. Daddy relented, signed the darn permit and when he left her office, she asked me to stay while she made me feel bad by telling me that I had caused a whole lot of trouble by being absent minded, but she felt that it would probably be my last quarter, "because as irresponsible as you are, I won't have to worry about you another year!"
The next night I showed up at the women's court. My friend from the bus went with me as a witness. I fully expected to be suspended, at least. The sentence was "campused" meaning I could only be in my room, in class , the dining hall, or the library for six weeks.
I went to Lavina's room to tell her the news. On the day she had helped me register we noticed in the catalog that a new Director of Physical Education had been hired by the name of Dr. Nephi Moroni Jorgensen from Rigby, Idaho. We were so delighted that we called to see if we could go to visit them. As far as we knew, we were the only Mormons on campus. They welcomed us warmly, invited us to dinner and used our services occasionally to tend their four children.
Soon a branch of the church was organized in the city with Dr. Jorgensen as branch president and a handful of other members plus quite a few investigators who had read about it in the Greenville paper. Of course, I was not even allowed to go to church during the six weeks of my sentence!
The Jorgensens remain good friends, and it was my pleasure to provide a home for their oldest daughter when she became a freshman at BYU. Our house had an apartment on the side which we gave to her and two friends who stayed rent free all summer.
A final note. At the end of the first quarter at East Carolina, with those six weeks of nothing to do but study, my grades were very high. I made the Dean's List. When Miss Morton was ready to record our grades I went in alone and proudly presented my report card. She looked very surprised. It was the first time she had seen me since she had called me down to berate me again a couple of weeks after the incident with my dad. She just wanted me to know how lucky I was to still be there. As you would expect, the whole dorm had become aware of my predicament, and another girl left without signing out. These are Miss Morton's exact words, "She thought she could get away with it, too. She got caught, and is now expelled! See what you have caused!"
We learned later she was pregnant and wanted to go home, anyway. She used me to justify her spending the weekend with her boyfriend.
Miss Morton could not hide her surprise at my near perfect grades. I must have has a look of superiority when I confidently let her know, "I'll be here next year!" Which I was, and long after she retired in the spring, and made all the freshmen happy.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
I hurried to find a pay phone and called the principal of my high school. He could not believe my dad had left me with no money. He said he would drive out to the farm and give him the message, and if he didn't have the money, not to worry. Mr Munn said he would lend me the money.
I must explain that I knew my dad had the money. It was MY money. My brothers and I could not believe him when he said the year before that he was going to let each if us have a plot of tobacco that we were responsible for. The harvested leaves were kept in separate corners of the barn, prepared for market, and we were there to collect our dough when it was sold. We each had several hundred dollars. I saved all of mine, but was afraid to take it with me. Mr. Munn
told him where I would be all afternoon, and as I left the big meeting in the assembly hall, there they stood, Daddy with his hand outstretched to give me the big bills. I rushed over to the finance office and paid so I could register the next day.
I had no spending money, but no real need for any. Freshmen were not allowed to go home the first six weeks, so I knew I could get some when I did go home. Before the six weeks ended I had figured out a few things and felt like I was going to make it. I had paid for ten coupon books for meals, but could see that I would not eat that much. I had a job in the infirmary which paid for the meals and housing. I met a veteran at church, a student who would buy the meal tickets I couldn't use. The nurses at the infirmary liked me, and often invited me to eat with them. I used the sewing machine there and made myself a couple of new dresses. I had money for my bus ticket to go home after six weeks. I was on a roll!
I knew he meant what he said, and I was not going to have my dreams shattered by disobeying him. After sitting there a while, seeing no other students about, I was surprised to see a beautiful girl approaching, asking my name. The dean must have told her I was there, and she announced that she was my "Big Sister". The YWCA had a program to help incoming freshmen. I moved over and she sat on my locker and answered a few questions I had. Then she suggested we walk over to the student center where she could show me my mailbox, where to get my meals and other aspects of student life. We hung around a bit while she talked to several students checking their mail.
Suddenly the skies darkened and a downpour commenced. Fifteen minutes later it showed no signs of letting up. Two guys had driven up to the building in a cute Model A Ford coupe. They dashed into the post office and recognized my friend. Seeing that we were stranded, they suggested we get into the car and be driven across campus to our dorm. It was a squeeze, but better than getting soaking wet. I prayed that Daddy had not forgotten something and was returning with another bit of sage advice. It was a chance I had to take, because I would have looked like the biggest idiot in the world to have done anything else. No, I had no guilt feelings. It really hurt to not be trusted. My behavior was not deserving of that distrust. I knew where I was going, and nothing short of disaster was going to stop me.
I went back to my room, lay down on my bed and cried as I remembered Mama's face as she looked when they left me. I was determined to never disappoint her. I fell asleep, and when I woke the storm was over and my roommate, the Belle of Hobsville, entered with her parents laden down with designer clothes. The next few days were traumatic for many reasons.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
As I have related in other posts, my health was great. I worked like a man, even before I was a teenager. My grades were getting me on the honor roll, but during my first year of high school I suddenly had trouble remembering things, and my grades took a drastic slide. I worried about it so much I could not go to sleep at night. My parents said I had a "wild" look in my eyes. My teachers noticed a change in my personality. I was "giddy", almost out of control. Recently there was a child in our neighborhood who was a "crack baby". Her mother had been a drug user. Watching her behavior reminded me of how I must have appeared during the brief period.
On Saturday of the week my parents asked, "What in the world is wrong with you?" I said I had not been to sleep in three nights, and they whisked me off to the doctor. The diagnosis was hook worms, and I was confined to bed. It was a common ailment in the south where children went barefoot on soil accessible to dogs infected with the disease.
With two weeks of bed rest, raw egg milkshakes and other blood building potions to fight the anemia I was ready to go back to school. On the first day back, it appeared school was not quite ready for me. Mrs. Munn, the principal's wife and English teacher for all grades asked me to leave the room while she talked to the class. She called me back in, and gave me a book all the class had signed. It was a mystery to me. Why did I need to be out of the room for them to sign the book? The mystery became very clear that afternoon when I was riding the school bus home. A little second grader stared at me, and close to my face, whispered, " Are you still crazy?"
So, that was why Mrs. Munn wanted me out, to explain to the class how I should be treated. I was devastated! At home I cried buckets, didn't want to ever go back to that school. If I could just go to another school, start all over, I knew I could be the best student there. Luckily I fell asleep, and the next morning realized it was impossible to go to another school. I would just go back, watch every word I said to anyone, study hard, and hope they would forget my short time out of control.
None of the students ever asked me about my illness. In a college English class assigned to write a brief story about a high school experience, I wrote about it, trying to describe how I felt when there was no consolation except my faithful cat whose purr, as she slept on my stomach, quieted my fears. I got an A on the paper. Actually, I made up that part. Everyone knew Miss Davenport had several cats, and I suspected it was her soft spot, so I took advantage of it! After my experience with dogs, I wanted nothing to do with any animals, and I never went barefoot again.
The rest of my high school experience could not have been better. I was president of the senior class. I kept talking college, and in September of 1947 it really happened. There was never any question where I was going. East Carolina was only an hour's drive, but it had never occurred to us to just drive up there and look around.
I had not bought any new clothes, but I had made a couple of dresses. Everything I owned, including my blanket, fit in a small footlocker. My Aunt Ruth helped me pack. She told me later that she went home and cried, thinking of how little I had, and how I would feel around girls in the dorm. Mama and Daddy drove me up to Cotten Hall, helped me find my room. Daddy gave me a last minute warning, "If I ever hear of your being in a car with boys, you will be coming home!"
What did he mean? Didn't he know I was too homely for any boys to want to take me for a ride? I went up to my room, sat on my foot locker in the hall way, and waited for my new world.
My next blog will be about riding in a car with boys.
In the meantime, tomorrow we leave on a great adventure. Tomorrow night we will be in a hotel in New York where we will meet our three daughters, their husbands and the last child in each family. All the other grandchildren are in university and feeling very left out. It seems too perfect to be true, a dream spring break, two weeks on the Mediterranean and a few days for us down in North Carolina where they have postponed Aunt Ruth's ninetieth birthday party until we can be there.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Last night I only had an hour or so to get down the one in the series about segregation in the south. Our friends came for us as I was finishing it, and I hit a wrong button throwing it into a place I didn't think I could retrieve. Thinking it would be better if I did it over this morning, I was typing away when Paige called. "Grandma" she asked, "are you having trouble with your blog?" She was able to see I had written it, but I had not saved it, so I thought it was gone. Now, several hours later, I see that it is published. If you can stand to read both, tell me if I improved it at all.
My husband read it and reminded me that he could remember the very incident which confirmed to him that I was no longer prejudiced. It was soon after we came to BYU, at a basketball game where we were playing Wyoming. They had a black player on their team, and two ignorant Cougar fan sitting several rows down from us kept yelling, "Get that n____ out of there." Now, that was the worst word you could say when we were growing up!
I took it as long as I could. Then, I stood up, parted the people in front of me who were sitting on the bleachers, and worked my way down several bleacher rows to where they sat. I put a hand on each of their shoulders, and amid the shouting, used my loudest, most affirmative voice to say, "You shut up! I grew up in the South, and we never called them that name. It is the rudest thing you can do!"
I went back to my seat and they didn't make another sound. I will consider that my repentance!
In second grade we moved to a farm next door to a black family with a daughter about my age. Going to meet the bus, I always saw her in the yard. I stopped one day to talk to her. We didn't talk about school. It was just understood that blacks did not go to school. Her name was Charity. She invited me into the house to see her picture. It was not just a picture of Charity in the 8 by 10 frame, but a picture of three girls who looked exactly alike, same dressses, same poses, standing side by side. Her mother explained that Charity was born with identical sisters, Faith and Hope, who died in infancy. The mother cried and told me how each year they had a new picture taken to honor her lost sisters. The family's home was as clean as mine, and the parents' bed, and in addition to being nicer and fluffier than my parents had a satin spread. The beds in my house were only covered with homemade quilts.
I went home that day with a new reference point, and was excited to tell my parents of the experience. Not all blacks were dirty and smelled bad. Mama didn't chastise me for going in the house, but had me understand that I must come straight home after that. I still think about Charity, and wonder if she ever got a chance to learn to read.
By the time I was out of college and was on the other side of the desk, there were black schools. I had an occasion to visit one when I was teaching in Southern Pines. It was a new red brick school, and as I slowly passed the boy's locker room, I detected not just a stronger smell than the one in my school, but a different smell altogether. I got to know the black administrators and cooperated with them on occasion. They had to fight for everything they got. Truthfully, as I have taught many black students since that year, many of which became favorites of mine, I have never had any who did not appear clean.
The year that I taught in Southern Pines was 1954, the year the US Supreme Court favored Brown over The Board of Education. People immediately could see a new confidence on the faces of all the blacks in the community. There was much talk of desegregation, but in our last faculty meeting, where it was the hot topic for two hours, our superintendent assured us that we would never have to assimilate black students in our schools. He had the right to regulate districts, and if he had to put each house of black people in a different school districts, he could do it, even if his county had several hundred districts with one house in each. Later, they not only integrated, but had to spend a lot of money busing students all over to make sure the color was balanced in each school. It gave rise to more prejudice than ever, and the establishment of great numbers of small elite private schools without the financial backing to support programs like music, arts and others the larger public schools offerred.
We occasionally hired black women to help pick cotton, but during our hardest season we "swapped work" with four other families to harvest the tobacco, a very labor intensive work lasting six or seven weeks in July and August. One summer Uncle Jim hired a young black fellow to live with them, sleeping in a shed, and eating after all the white people had finished.
He was a jovial, very talented guy we discovered when he asked permission to play the piano in their living room. He played by ear, ragtime, and anything you could hum. One day we finished early, and Uncle Jim asked all the men if any would like to go into town to see a wild west movie. Only two men accepted, so Uncle Jim asked Joe if he wanted to go. He quickly accepted. The other men left to clean up, but Joe only washed his hands and was ready. When asked if he was going to take a bath, he answered that he had powdered.
I thought about Joe fifty years later when I was teaching at a university in China and one of my students asked me why westerners smell so bad. She had encountered an American athlete after a soccer game. I discovered that Chinese people not only have very litttle body hair, but no sweat glands at all, and that deodorant is not even sold in China. Should they choose not to bathe for a week or so, they may have the same odor of dead skin that all humans have, especially old people who think that since they sit around all the time and don't feel dirty there is no need to bathe.
The stigma of immorality was the worst image of blacks. We felt justified in sending them to "de backa de bus". One weekend during WW ll my cousin Helen and another friend and I took a bus trip. I was left behind them with an empty seat beside mine. A man entered with his wife and asked me if I would move to the seat behind mine, beside a black woman, so he and his wife
might sit beside each other. I simply said "No" and turned toward the window.
I had never heard anything like the scolding that man gave me, but I continued to sit there looking out the window, afraid he would try to remove me bodily.
My next act of defiance came many years later when I was a staff dietitian at Duke University Hospital. There I was in constant close contact with many black people, since most of the workers in the kitchen and the wards were from the black community and colleges. I had to watch those who operated dangerous machinery in case they came to work slightly inebriated and sliced off a finger. Charles came a little tipsy occasionally and juiced two crates of oranges for the private patients. Should he not show up at all, I had to juice them myself. The black nurses, maids, and all other workers ate in the basement together where their rest rooms were located. One day I saw a lovely black registered nurse in the upstairs bathroom and reminded her that she was to use the one downstairs. She met my stare, but remained aloof and calmly walked out.
I felt justified because each month all medical staff and food handlers had blood drawn to test for venereal diseases. We always had to fire a few blacks who had syphilis, but never a white person. I had a fear of a toilet seat that could be contaminated. The prejudices stayed with me a long time, I am ashamed to say, even after I came out west with my husband to go to school. That summer I found myself with a large group of students playing a game where we all held hands in a circle. There was a black boy in the group, and when it became necessary for me to hold hands with the black student, I dropped out of the game.
I feel so embarrassed to admit these things. I hope I have been forgiven. One of my dear friends, Ana Claudia, a beautiful Nigerian girl who worked with me in the Madrid Temple, has probably the darkest skin of anyone I have seen, but is the most beautiful. If she ever comes to this country, I sincerely hope she will find it a welcoming place every where she goes.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
There were many black families in Lenoir County and the whole state for that matter, and I had regular contact with them. It never occurred to me to ask where, or if they went to school. I knew where the Negro churches were, and maybe there were grammar school classes held in those buildings. If any of them were literate, I was unaware of it. I might have been one of the first children to ride a school bus to a modern school. The black children were totally ignored.
In second grade we moved into a tobacco farming neighborhood 15 miles from a town. I walked by a house where a nice black family lived to catch the bus. A girl about my age was always in the yard, so in the afternoon I would stop and talk with her. Charity was the only child in the family. She invited me into her house to meet her parents where I was fascinated to see a large picture in an ornate gold frame of Charity and two other girls looking exactly like her, same pose. same dress, same height. Her mother must have seen the look of wonder on my face, because she explained that when Charity was born, she had given birth to two other girls at the same time who looked exactly like her. She named the other girls Faith and Hope. It was evident that they all still suffered from the loss of the girls who died shortly after their birth. Each year on Charity's birthday they took her to a photographer who took a picture in triplicate to replace the one they had looked at all year. I thought it was the sweetest thing. I was also impressed at how clean the house was. The parents slept on a bed flufffier than any we had, and it was covered with a satin bedspread instead of a homemade quilt like all of our beds.
I could not wait to tell my parents of the experience, and I looked forward to visiting with my new friend often, but I was quickly aprised that it would not be appropriate, nor allowed. I was not told to be rude, just say nothing, but hurry home. It wasn't that I didn't know of the taboo. Comments heard around all the whites left an image of dirty conditions, "don't care" attitudes, and as I grew older, immorality in addition to the slovenliness. I still think about Charity a lot.
We sometimes went into town to hire day workers when the cotton was ready to pick, but for tobacco harvesting we swapped work with other farmers in the neighborhood, going to a different farm each day of the week, except the day our tobacco was being harvested. That six or seven week period in July and August was the most intense labor I have ever been exposed to.
Uncle Jim occasionally had a black boy about twenty stay with them, sleeping outside under some sort of shelter. After the day's work was done he was sometimes allowed to come inside the house and play their piano. He played by ear, and we had never heard anyone better. Of course he always ate after the family had finished. Only the men talked with him. It would have been very improper for me to have entered the conversation.
One evening we finished early, and Uncle Jim asked if any of the men would like to go into town to a wild west movie. The women were not invited, and only three men were going, so he invited the black boy, asking him how soon he could be ready. He answered that he was ready. "Aren't you going to take a bath?", my uncle asked.
"I powders", he replied. Maybe that was the reason black people had a strong odor different from whites, I thought..
Later, in my teaching career, I had an occasion to visit a new modern red brick high school in the city where I taught. Passing the boy's locker room, it definitely was much different from the one in my school. I am sure we ate about the same diet (soul food is still my favorite). many years later when was teaching in a prestigious Chinese university, I was amused when a student asked me why westerners smell so bad. Later I learned Chinese have almost no body hair and no sweat glands. Deodorant was not even sold there, as unless they neglected to bathe for days on end, they had no problem, even with physical exercise.
The black students I have taught, some of whom became favorites of mine, have always been immaculate. My attitude changed when I moved from the south, but the two events I mentioned earlier occurred in high school and in my first job.
My cousin and I went on a bus trip. There was another cousin with us who was closer her age, so I ended up in a seat alone. A couple got on the bus to find that only two seats were left, the one beside me, and one directly behind me beside a black woman. The man asked if I would move back beside the black woman so he could sit with his wife. I refused, without any explanation. He needed no explanation. Everyone knew blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. I simply said "No", and let it go at that. He sailed into me with a lecture I will never forget. Of course all the white people were on my side. They were proud of me!
There were no black students at my college, but when I graduated and started work at Duke University, I was thrown into the 50/50 ratio of employees. Nearly all of the cooks I supervised were black, and as they had a reputation for having a pretty wild life, I had to watch them carefully when they were using machinery that could cut off an arm. Charles, a very handsome man, came in very early to juice two crates of fresh oranges, usually smelling like alcohol. I was always relieved to see him come in. If he didn't make it, the job fell to me.
The blacks had their own dining room, their own bathroom, all in the basement, and a lower quality in every way. Occasionally I had to go in there to retrieve a worker. The conversation was always base, and I was convinced they had a very loose morality. I was glad all food handlers were required to have blood drawn each month or so for a Wasserman test which detects venereal disease. Each time we had to fire several. Many were students from the Negro college in Durham. I was glad they did not use our bathrooms. One day I saw a very pretty black registered nurse, so clean and neat, using our bathroom. I asked her if she were aware that she was supposed to use the one downstairs. I shall never forget the look she gave me, not exactly superior, but certainly not submissive. She did not change her facial expression, just stared me in the eyes , threw her shoulders back and walked out.
Two years later I was teaching in Southern Pines High School when, at the end of the year the US Supreme Court favored Brown versus the Board of Education. The final faculty meeting was devoted to all the rumors about the local attitudes of the blacks. Nobody was afraid, but the blacks on the street were euphoric. They fully expected to be able to enroll in our school the next year. Our superintendent just laughed as he assured us that he had full jurisdiction, and if he had to put each home with blacks in a different zone, he could still tell them where they had to go to school. I left the next month, and never knew how he handled it, but all schools eventually were mixed, black and white evenly. With a costly busing system and many private schools sprang up all over the south.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
My early memories of myself I will describe as skinny, with orangy red hair and dark (almost black) freckles all over my neck and arms. I inherited my dad's complexion, his full lips and nice teeth that were dazzling white and perfect. Smiling a lot showed off my only good feature. The entire family of seven uncles, three aunts and dozens of cousins were aware of how I hated the freckles, and occasionally someone suggested a cure or at least a remedy. I tried them all. Somehow my mother came up with a few dollars to send away for a jar of Stillman's freckle cream. She said if it even lightened them just a little, she would consider ordering more. Reluctantly, I had to admit they were darker, if anything. Looking back now. I realize some of the remedies were so ridiculous they were just having fun thinking them up, like getting up before daylight in summer and bathing my face in dew from the grapevine leaves. The most absurd one, my Uncle Marvin offered. He suggested I eat a chicken foot while sitting on the floor behind the door while everyone else ate the good pieces of chicken. Mama always threw away the feet, but she boiled one for me. I gnawed on the thing the whole dinner hour, and I can testify there was not one morsel of food to be found on it. At age six I decided I was just stuck with the freckles and gave up. In high school pancake makeup was all the rage, and , although they still showed through, I felt they were a little lighter. When I was a freshman in college, I looked in the mirror one day to find they had gone completely.
High school was a trying time, but socially it was better than grade school. I was friends with everyone in my class, close friends with some, and through 4-H club in the neighborhood I had very good times. The hard work of growing tobacco left little time for play, but during the school year I loved every day of school. All grades were in the same building. If a teacher didn't show up for a lower grade, I was sometime asked to substitute. The only criticism I ever got from the teachers was for talking too much. One of my teachers told me how fortunate I was to have red hair, because, she said a person with red hair already has a personality. People remember you!
Then, I felt a little better about the hair. My figure was OK, but again I failed to get my mother's looks. Instead of small hips and ample bust, I got just the opposite. The top was easy to fix, and since I weighed only a hundred pounds, the hips were not a great problem. About the time I went to college strapless gowns came in style. Only the girls who could support the strapless bras could wear a strapless gown. About the time the freckles disappeared I figured out a way around that. I worked in the health center, college infirmary, where they kept adhesive tape of all widths on hand. One roll was as wide as my hand, used to tape cracked ribs of the football players.
I borrowed a strapless bra from a friend. Before putting it on, I took a piece of tape about 8" long and taped each bust toward the center, crossing the tape in front. Such cleavage!. Then, to keep the whole bra from falling down, my friend taped it all the way around. With a couple of pairs of old nylons stuffed in the sides I looked like Marilyn Monroe, and I could do the jitterbug with not a care in the world! Getting the tape off after the dance was awful.
In high school I felt very secure, not pretty, but smart. In college, I had little time to socialize. I had enough dates to develop conversation skills. I do not recall any guys ever telling me I was attractive. The styles always seemed to be for girls with thin hips, so I began to wear a tight Playtex rubber girdle to make me look thinner. In summer it was miserable. One day in September I was helping in the infirmary with the athlete's physicals, getting their height,
weight, and temperature. Thinking there was a lull in my duties, I stepped behind a screen to pull the girdle loose a bit to let some air in when it slipped out of my fingers with a loud pop. When I emerged from behind the screen, there stood the last of the guys, laughing. "I can't believe you are wearing one of those horrible torture instruments", he said. "If you had on a red skirt, you'd look like a thermometer, anyway!"
With a life void of complements, I have always felt so lucky to have a soldier boy fall so completely in love with me when I was 23. I had not begun to feel like an old maid, yet, but I was seriously considering moving out west where the pickin's were better. Elder Alma Sonne, a church authority at one of the conferences was a good friend of Dr. Brockbank, state supt. of education. He was going to speak with his friend about a job for me in Salt Lake. He even said I would easily find the right husband with my good looks. Maybe I was better looking than I thought, and had only met shy boys in college. Still the memory of the remark made by one of the boys in my high school could bring me back to earth. He said, "If you were as pretty as your mother, I would take you out!"
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The first day I went all the way to the back of the bus and sat in the very last seat. The next stop picked up two boys who sat beside me and pestered me all the way to school. They made fun of my red hair, holding their hands up to it to see if it burned. My clothing amused them. My mother was not aware of the latest fashions for school children. My underwear was longer than my dress and could be pulled up by the elastic on the legs. The boys pulled the legs down and delighted in popping the elastic. I cried all the way to school.
One day the driver noticed them tormenting me and the next morning he told me to sit in the seat right behind him. That was my special seat. It told me that he liked me better than all the other kids. I was afraid if I told Daddy about the boys he would make me quit school. I had heard that teachers would spank you if you misbehaved. Daddy said that if I got a spanking at school, he would give me one when I got home. The first stupid thing I did was tell him about the whack I got on the bottom when I was day dreaming at the end of the line coming back to the class room after recess. The other children marched in while I stood there looking behind at the clouds. I remember the teacher with her arms crossed, standing alone in the door waiting for me to wake up. As I ran past her, she whacked my bottom and suggested I should try to be at the head of the line after that, which I did.
My teacher was Miss Florence Worthington, ancient, very experienced. She had introduced me to the class that first day and presented me with a brand new yellow box of crayons. I had never used crayons before. The other children had been in school a week or two and had already broken most of their crayons. Miss Florence said, "Now, Doris is going to keep all of her crayons just like they are, and not break a one." I was sure I could, and I did for quite a long time, but one day the blue one snapped because I was bearing down too hard. I carefully put it back in the box to look unbroken, and I never used it again.
Every day was a new adventure. I knew how to draw all the numbers, but what a thrill it was to learn that the number 8 could be made easier than drawing two zeros. I went home and swirled eights all over the house.
The most exciting thing happened one day. A new student moved into our class. His name was William, but when Miss Florence had finished introducing him and telling us that he was from Florida where oranges grow, he asked if she could call him Bill and have all of us do the same, since everyone had always called him that. I was so impressed! Seeing oranges grow, having a nick name! That was so neat! I waited until the class was quiet and working away, and I quietly crept up to Miss Florence's desk and asked her if she would have all the pupils call me Maybelle, since that was what everyone had always called me.
I shall never forget the smile on her face when she very wisely said, "We will see." I knew she didn't believe me and that I was not going to get the attention I was seeking.
Shyness was never a problem with me. I knew I was not as fashionable as the others. I wanted pretty clothes, and a lunch made of store bought bread and bologna instead of the hot sweet potatoes Mama had put in my pockets to keep my hands warm on the way to school. One day I saw a pretty embroidered handkerchief in the bushes. Every day I watched to see if anyone had claimed it. One day I found a stick to reach it, but it was too short. An older girl asked what I was doing, getting my arms all scratched. She helped me get the handkerchief, which I took home and washed and kept in my treasures for many years. The older girl was a senior, I think. She asked if I wanted to eat my lunch with her and her friends, so until summer I sat with three older girls and listened to them talk about the most interesting things, mostly boyfriends.
Not having friends at school must not have worried me. I decided early on that I was smarter than most of them, because I could finish my work first and it was always right. Who needed friends? None of them lived near me, so there was no chance to play after school or in summer.
During Christmas vacation when I was in Miss Sessions' second grade we moved back to Lenoir County. Our class had drawn names, the first time I had ever heard of a Christmas party. A boy got my name and gave me an automatic pencil with replaceable lead. I treasured it for many years. Once I thought had lost it. Everyone helped me look for it. It definitely was not in the house, and I had not taken it to school. I decided to pray really hard to know where else to look, and felt impressed to look under the house. There was dry sand under there, and the house was built up on stilts about 18 inches high, big round tree posts. It was easy to get under there, and sure enough, there was my pencil in the sand, and a hole just the size of the pencil in the floor above it. The pencil could not have fallen through. Someone had pushed it. Who didn't like me?