It was a cold winter’s day and the big yellow school bus pulled up in front of my Grandmamma and Granddads house. I could smell the bus fumes mixed with the fresh mud as the soft rain continued to fall. I watched that old bus for a long time as it went down the country road. It had one more stop, a little rich girl named Ginger Landers who lived about half mile down the road. Her parents went to church with my grandparents in Pixley, California. She took great pride in sticking her tongue out at me. My Grandmamma would say, ‘Don’t pay any attention to her, that tongue will break off one day.” I lived with my grandparents north of town in a large white farmhouse with a screed in back porch. It was Friday and no one was home and the back door was locked. So I sat on the back steps and then went into the barn where I could dry out. I got scared, I really felt afraid, but I really do not know why? Maybe too much time had gone by, but I found myself out in the field of mud crying, and thinking I should run to the Landers house. So I did, and no one was there either. Confused, scared and worried, I ran back home just in time for my grandparents to drive up. I was safe and warm in no time, Grandmama said that they were sorry that I was alone. It could be because I was only 5 years old.
My Aunt Sweetie (Lily Ellen) and I would sleep out on the porch on hot nights. We would wait for the soft breeze that came long after the sun went down. I loved that we could lie on our back and see the stars. Sweetie knew where the big dipper and all the other signs in the dark sky. My grandparents (Ethel and Albert) gave all their children and grandchildren nicknames. I am Doll
(Mary Ellen). Sleeping on the porch was nice because we had no air conditioning; I think Sweetie wanted to be a boy. She played baseball and hung out with the boys more than girls. She always wore either a baseball hat or a green beanie. I loved that beanie; she had charms and buttons of all types on the beanie. She would get stuff out of the cracker jacks box and pin it to that beanie then give me the cracker jacks sometimes. Aunt Sweetie also had wonderful dolls that she never played with. She had Cuppie dolls and baby dolls in all sizes, and I could not touch them. Ones and awhile she would take me to the hall closet and let me look at them. No touching!!!! I wanted to be her for a long time. She was a true tomboy. And I thought she was so pretty.
School was hard for me. I didn’t like Church school. It seemed like everyone but me lived with their parents, and they were rich. I was poor and knew it, only because the clothes they wore were much nicer than mine. And to make things worse, I was the only redhead in this school. Add to that I was really thin, skinny really. So there was lots of name calling.. There have always been Bullies in school. I was not good about food. I disliked most everything. But I loved catsup sandwiches; kids called them blood sandwiches. So often I would not eat at all until I got home, fearing that someone would say something. Because they did.
I was scared of so many things, cars, the bus, dogs, and teachers. I was afraid of the dark and I was lonely. I don’t remember any friends in Christian school. Not until 2nd grade.
Merle was a good friend, she had long blonde hair. I loved her hair. We ate lunch together every day. I remember after a rain she and I jumped puddles in the school yard. You know the puddles that you could see the blue sky with fluffy white clouds in. No one made fun of me any longer; I was one of the first kids picked for all sports. Baseball, races, I could out run any boy in school.
I was living in southern California by the second grade with my parents. My sister Sharon was born in Long Beach, and we lived on Signal Hill. She was like having a live baby doll. I remember Mama hanging her diapers on the clothes line. Kids from the apartment played a lot under that clothes line because it was round. My Dad worked hard but there was never enough money. So I continued to want nice clothes like the others girls wore. But clothes were hard to come by. I think the hardest part for me was shoes. At the start of school I got a new pair of Oxfords, they were always a little too big so that I would not grow out of them too soon. I had the worst blisters from them every year. Band-Aids did not help. So often there was blood on my socks. In a short time my shoes would started to smile, that mint they had to go to the shoe repair man. My Mama called him by his first name…and it was like we were going to see a friend. Children do some really strange things sometimes. I would take my socks off and put the socks in my lunch sack and pretend that I had pretty shoes. My legs where so thin, this must have looked just awful. Then put my socks back on walking home from school. I would have given just about anything for a pair of Mary Jane’s.
I was not a good student…although no one would have known that I had a condition in the 50’s, but today we call it ADD. I was always thinking about something else, looking out the window, or worried about what was going on at home. Just a messed up little girl. I felt stupid, but had no way of sharing this. It was hard being me. I remember teachers saying to me, your test scores are really good, you should be getting your work done and having better grades. Okay!
I found these pages I had written years ago. So thought I would share this today. If you open enough boxes, you may be surprised at what you find.