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Memoirs

Boyfriends

I had a lot of boyfriends in elementary school. You weren’t “cool” if you weren’t “going” with someone.  Chasing each other on the playground and writing notes to each other was basically the extent of the relationship. We dared not hold hands or exchange kisses for fear of cooties. Boys and girls weren’t supposed to like each other, after all. 

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I remember a few, and I’ll just give their initials so they won’t die of embarrassment if by some weird chance they were to read this. I remember liking a boy in preschool who rode on the bus with me, all giggles and bouncing in the back seat from bumps in the road. That’s really all I remember about him, except in later grades we never really talked to each other. Our interests diverged, I suppose, as did our group of friends. MD played tuba in the band as I recall, and I played flute. In high school he became a goat-roper (cowboy) while I was just a nerd.

My first (or maybe second) grade boyfriend was actually in my swimming class in the summer. It’s hard to recall anything except that we chased each other on the playground during recess. I don’t think that relationship lasted very long. Go figure. Two seven-year-olds.  He did come by my workplace while I was in college and ask me if I was interested in sharing an apartment! There was also another boy that pestered me so much everyone thought he was my boyfriend but he wasn’t.  He was pretty much the class goof-off.  Sadly, JW passed away at a young age.

The next beau I recall is DC in fourth grade. I do remember writing notes with him, notes that consisted of “Do you like me? Check yes or no.” If he checked yes, then you were going together. He sat behind me in class and was a Cub Scout. He wore the cool blue shirt and gold scarf to school one day a week. I seem to remember he smiled a lot. Probably still does.  I do know he is still married to his high school sweetheart and has a beautiful family.

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That’s pretty much it. I guess there really weren’t a lot. I don’t recall any boyfriends in fifth or sixth grade. My parents never had to worry about setting a dating age for me, because no one ever asked me until I was a junior in high school. That’s me, number one nerd. I was too smart for boys to like me. 

That’s okay, though. I wound up with the best of the bunch.  JC and I have been together over 40 years, and I don’t have to chase him around the playground.

How about you?  Did you have boyfriends or girlfriends in elementary school?

Stay safe and well.


XOXO
Categories
Memoirs

Funerals are Weird

Maybe no one has dared to utter those words, at least in print or publicly, but there they are.  Don’t you agree?  Here in the U.S., we have certain customs we follow when someone dies.  I’m sure they all, like Christmas traditions, have their origins and seem reasonable to most, but nowadays you have to wonder.  Should the usual traditions and customs be followed during a pandemic?

Because they’re not.  Many are not holding traditional funerals; many are holding memorial services, and many times the service is held weeks or even months after the death.  Fewer people are attending funeral services these days, for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and those who do attend wear masks.

My father-in-law recently passed away, and my mother-in-law honored his wishes by having him cremated, but she decided at the last minute to donate his body to science, in hopes that research into dementia like his could help someone in the future.  An honorable and noble decision, in my opinion.  She filled out the proper paperwork, the university picked up the remains, and ashes may be returned to her when the work at the university medical school is complete.  

So there was no need for a casket, no need for viewing, no need for graveside service, no need for interment.   Most of the immediate family attended the simple memorial service with a handful of friends and relatives, and there were two speakers and a couple of songs, and the service was over.

Family received the guests and then convened at my mother-in-law’s home where we visited for awhile and then left.  It was odd.  No food was brought to the house, no food was served after the service, and no flowers were delivered.

Still, I believe my father-in-law was honored, and my mother-in-law was provided closure after months and months of caregiving.  This pared-down version of a funeral seemed to make more sense to me.  Maybe the traditions of visitation, viewing the body in a casket, and going to the cemetery help to provide closure for many, but this simple memorial service was a good substitute.  

Goodbye, Jerry. We love you. May you rest in peace with God.


Have you attended a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic?  Please share your experience.  I would love to hear about it.

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Teacher’s Pet

When I was in second grade, my friends told me I was the teacher’s pet. I didn’t really think of myself as such, but I was the one Mrs. Russell chose to keep in during recess at the end of the day to help her with projects such as putting up bulletin boards, cutting out things, cleaning erasers, or doing errands for her.  



That’s me in the circle and Mrs. Russell with the tall hair standing.

 You can see the book characters on the wall. 

That year we had recess after lunch, and then a quiet time where we would rest our heads on our desks and listen to the teacher read to us.  My favorite book that she read was The Wizard of Oz.  She had put characters from the book on the wall and I would study them every day.  I was so enamored with the story and so eager to know what happened next that I persuaded my parents to buy me a copy of the book. Soon I found myself the proud owner of the Whitman version of the book which I believe I read in one weekend.


Another thing I remember about reading in elementary school was the SRA reading kit.  SRA stands for Science Research Associates.  During SRA time, we would go to the SRA box on the counter in the classroom, pick a folded card with a reading selection and then we would be tested over the reading.  If we scored high enough on the reading test, we could advance to the next color.  If not, we had to select another story in the same color.  Being kind of an overachiever, I would rush through the reading, take the test, and see if I could advance faster than anyone else.  I was in the top reading group, after all.


Back in the 60’s we were all divided into reading groups based on our abilities.  Though the groups were named benignly after birds or colors, there was no doubt in our minds which group was the smartest, which was the middle, and which was the slowest.  And since there were no classroom teacher aides, we were expected to work on an assignment at our desks while the teacher had a reading group at a table in the back of the room.  No one misbehaved during that group time because no one wanted to be the recipient of a swing from the teacher’s paddle or a visit to the principal’s office.  There was real fear in those days.  I think it had something to do with the fact that you would catch it at home as well.


So  I was smart.  Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.  The girl who followed the rules.  The girl who got to stay in from recess and help the teacher.   Teacher’s pet.  What about you?  Were you the teacher’s pet?  

XOXO


Categories
Memoirs

Open Season for Wasps

When the weather turns warm here in the South the wasps come out.  Here in East Texas we have black wasps, black-winged red wasps, all-red red wasps, yellow and black guinea wasps (we call them yellow jackets), dirt daubers, cicada killers (hornets), bumblebees, wood borers, and honeybees.  We’ve been blessed with quite a variety of stinging, flying insects, and I bet there are a few I haven’t even mentioned. 

Red wasp


You’re mostly safe if you just leave them alone but sometimes paths cross and it can lead to a painful encounter.  Such was the case when I was about six years old.  It was a windy day at the Moseley house and Mama and us four kids were outside by the back door step.  A red wasp landed in Mama’s hair and she shook her head to make it go away.  She was holding my baby sister so that’s about all she could do.  The wasp, angry as red wasps tend to be, saw me and decided–if a bug with only a wad of nerves for a brain can decide–to come after me. 

“Run!” Mama cried, and I ran.  I ran the length of the back of the house and turned the corner.  That’s when I made the fateful decision to stop and turn around.  That evil wasp popped me on the forehead and again on the thumb.  I guess I tried to brush it off my forehead.  I still have the scar where it punctured my forehead.  

You see, the wind carries these insects where they don’t intend to fly, and I believe it makes them madder than usual.  How would you feel if you were headed to Colorado on vacation and a big gust of wind carried you to New York instead?  If there’s a reason to feel sorry for a wasp, then the fact that they have very little control over their destination in windy weather could be it.

Guinea wasp

I didn’t just get one wasp sting during my childhood.  Oh no.  I could count on getting at least one per summer.  There’s the time I was riding my bicycle uphill on the blacktop road and my foot slipped off the pedal.  As I dragged my leg, skinning my knee all the way down to the tops of my toes, my bike and I landed on the side of the road in a blackberry vine patch.  If losing my top layer of skin wasn’t enough, I disturbed a wasp nest and suffered the consequences.  I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to limp the 40 yards (which seemed like a million) back to the house where I thought I would surely die before Mama applied her baking soda paste on the stings and merthiolate on my wounds.  I managed to survive.

Around here you have to check under porch swings, deck chairs, ride-on toys, kids’ swings, tractor fenders and seats, house eaves, propane tank lids, wheelbarrows, and outdoor grills before using them from spring through fall.  I got popped a couple of years ago by an angry wasp because I dared reach over its hidden nest to turn the outdoor faucet off after watering plants.  


Did I mention grabbing a loaf of bread in the grocery store and being rewarded by a honeybee sting in that tender skin between my thumb and forefinger?  It hurt for literally HOURS.  I was wearing a skirt and the silly thing tried to fly under it as well!  

I will do everything in my power to keep from being stung, and when the grandkids are here, I will do even more.  I don’t want to pass on to them my legacy of getting stung every summer.  After all, for wasps and bees, this time of year is open season on humans.  I won’t even mention the new scourge on mankind. . .murder hornets?  Really?  

What about you?  Got a bee or wasp sting story?

Stay safe!

XOXO

Categories
Memoirs

Walking Ten Miles in the Snow–well, not quite!

Although I didn’t have to walk to school ten miles in the snow, I grew up in a time when kids weren’t as pampered as they seem to be these days.  How so?

For one thing, I rode the bus to school every day from first grade through twelfth grade with very few exceptions. My kids didn’t have to because I was a teacher and they rode with me so they never had to experience the hot, crowded, bumpy, long ride that I suffered.  If school started at 8:00, I was picked up at 6:45.  If school got out at 3:00, I didn’t get home until almost 4:30.  There was no air conditioning and there were no safety belts. Kids of all grades mixed together and bullying wasn’t unheard of.  Thank goodness I usually had good bus drivers who kept an eye on us, and if we felt threatened we could sit close to the front near the driver.

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I did get to go school clothes shopping, but I also wore hand-me-downs from cousins. The clothes my mother got me before school started had to last all year–there was no mid-year shopping. One pair of shoes served me all year unless I outgrew them.

We did get new things for Christmas, but we chose to ask for toys rather than clothing.  Imagine a kid asking for toys over clothes!

When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, patterned hosiery was popular.  I wanted some so badly. Finally my parents bought me a pair but they were thigh-high and I didn’t realize they needed garters to hold them up. I didn’t have garters, so when I wore those stockings to school I couldn’t keep them up. I remember pulling on those things the whole day long. I doubt if I ever worn them again.
I wonder if that was my mother’s intention all along? Hm . . .

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We also played outside on the playground during recess unless it was raining.  No matter how cold it was, we were sent outside for twenty or thirty minutes to play. I remember standing against the building near the teachers so that the bitter north wind would be blocked. Girls were not allowed to wear pants when I was in elementary school, so our little legs froze, even with knee socks. I’m sure my coat had a hood, but it wasn’t fashionable to use it so I didn’t. 

The playground equipment consisted of huge metal swingsets with large chains holding canvas u-shaped seats. You could swing really high in those swings but you certainly did not want to walk in front of anyone on the downswing. You’d get clobbered.  We also had metal monkey bars, steel merry-go-round, steel johnny-strikes, metal horizontal ladder, and tall sheet metal slide.  All this was situated on hard dirt. No mulch or recycled rubber for us. 

These are johnny strikes.  What kid hater invented these?  I was scared to death of them!
Johnny did get struck many times!
You can also see the tall slide and huge swings in the photo.

I guess our survival from kid to adult was not a priority back then, but I managed, in spite of the lack of air conditioning in our schools, cars, and homes, and in spite of carrying metal lunchboxes and walking in front of school buses with big front ends.  Today’s safety measures are great: I would imagine there are far fewer emergency room visits, but then kids back in my day pretty much suffered through their injuries unless they were deemed life threatening. 

Sometimes I wish kids of today had to suffer a little more discomfort. But wait, not my grandkids. . .

Hope you’re staying safe, well, and sane. . .

XOXO