Summer of 1960, When I Was 7....Chapter 4......I had not liked school.
This was one of the hottest summers on record. The humidity was so high that any dirt on a kid turned to mud. And, there was no relief. It was as hot inside as out, the only breath of air came from that lone fan placed in the living room window. It pulled hot air into the house. It also pulled in lots of dust from the old dirt road.
Irene would say, “Come ere Miss Melly and let me brush that hair!” My hair was curly and so frizzy it was hard to control. I didn’t mind when Irene brushed it. She wasn’t as rough as my mother when she brushed out all the tangles. Irene would just softly touch the brush to the outside edges and then pull my hair back in a ponytail. Even though Irene washed our faces and fixed our hair before our Momma came home every day, my baby sister, Patty, had a perpetual black dirt ring under her neck.
I was glad it was summer. I loved playing outside. I had not liked school. There was not one thing that I liked about it. Oh, I kind of liked when I got picked to go outside and bang the erasers on the light pole. I watched the chalk dust leave rectangles all over the pole. And sharpening pencils. I’d turn the handle and push the pencil in too hard until Mrs. Pugh would yell at me that that was enough. It seemed to me that she always yelled. She was as big and tall as a man. She’d smack a ruler loudly on her desk as she demanded attention. When we were writing, if someone was not hard at work she would throw an eraser at them. If someone was really bad, they’d get sent to the principal’s office where they would get spanked with a paddle. I was scared of Mrs. Pugh, the principal…. and the paddle.
I didn’t like getting up early either. In the winter we only had one space heater and it was in the living room. We’d all try to get the spot right in front of it to put on our dresses. We had to wear dresses; we weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. But, first we had to grab the right pair of panties. They had the days of the week written on them. I tried very hard to only wear Monday underwear on Monday. Here in the summer it didn’t seem to matter so much. I could just as well wear Monday underwear on Thursday.
During the school year, we were occasionally given a dime to buy ice cream at recess. One day my mother still found my dime in my dress pocket. I remember her asking me, “Why didn’t you get an ice cream, Marilyn?” I didn’t answer, I just stepped on one big toe and then the other, trying to see which toe could keep the other one down.
Marva Rose answered for me. “Oh, she won’t go up to the ice cream wagon, cause Mrs. Pugh is the one who sells them during her recess.”
Then my mother would say the words I remember her saying to me repeatedly, “Marilyn, you know she is not yelling at you, you’re a good girl. She’s just yelling at the bad boys.”
Our mother had a rule. We weren’t allowed to play with boys or colored kids. Not playing with the boys was easy. They played by themselves at recess, playing ball or just running around. The girls would just swing and sing. Not playing with colored kids was easy at school. There weren’t any. They had their own school. But, as my sisters and I played in our yard or we’d sit in the fig tree, Carolyn stood at the fence and watched.
to be continued......