I am now eleven years old and it feels like I’ve been in school forever. This past summer was way too short and my bare feet are now back in the stiff school shoes. My feet always hurt me and Ma says my feet never stop growing just like the rest of me.
Some things have changed, though. Hank Leach has bought the store at the head of the street and he and his family live in the old Joe Cummings house about a mile and a half north of us. Barbara goes to school with us now, but she is in another room and I don’t see her often.
We had a very strange start to the school year. Mrs. Lurvey is not teaching any more in our school, so we arrived to find a very young lady teacher behind the desk. Now I have to admit we do have some students who like to talk and perhaps behave as well as they should sometimes, but one day I looked up and our teacher was seated at her desk crying. I didn’t know what to do so we all kind of looked at each other and pretended we didn’t see her.
Monday when we came to school, there was a tall man sitting at the teacher’s desk. I have never seen a man teacher before! Do men teach school?? I never knew one to teach school, so my morning was completely confused.
He had a nice smile and said his name is Gail Weber. He wrote Mr. Weber on the board with a flourish. I guess he is going to be with us the rest of the year.
Well, this should be interesting. I wonder if he heard that a couple years ago, some boys set off some black powder in the woods behind the school. That was something!! One boy was burned and didn’t come to school for awhile and the others were not hurt, but it sure was talked about!! Maybe people think we are such horrible students, they searched til they found a man they thought could handle us. I don’t know, but I behaved last year and will this year, too!
My ear is aching again today. My left ear aches sometimes pretty bad. Dad blows cigarette smoke in it at home and puts a piece of cotton in it after to keep it warm. That does help at home, but the days at school are very long. Ma has a friend who works with her at the mill and that lady goes home every day at noon. When she goes home, she fills a hot water bottle full and sends it back to school with her son. Her name is Mrs. Corkum and her son is Carl and he always gives me the hot water bottle. Mr. Weber does not mind that I put my head on it if he is teaching the other two classes and it sure helps me get through the afternoon. I tell Carl to be sure and thank his mother for being so kind to me.
The school doctor, Dr. Boynton looked in my ear and told me to come to my Grandfather’s farm next door on Saturday as he comes every other week-end to check on him. He said to tell Ma and Dad that my tonsils should come out and something called adenoids. I told them, but they said if I wanted to go , I could. Well, now if any kid thinks that someone is going to be operating on them sooner or later, are they going to go see the doctor, even next door? Not me, I decided.
Today, however, is a special day as Mr. Weber has us studying something called bartering. He asked us each to bring something from home to barter with someone else. Maybe we have something we do not want that someone else would really want. I found a lined tablet that I had never written in. Maybe someone will like that. It turns out that Albert wants the tablet and he has an autograph book. I think some of the pages are missing, but there are several pages left and I can have my friends sign it. My mother has one from her days at Woodstock High School where she graduated in 1933, so I know that autograph books have been around for awhile! Kay is the first to sign it and then some others write in it. The boys are goofy and they write silly things in it but that is ok. I will have fun reading it when I get home.
Home! Oh, no. Someone says the bus has left . What am I going to do? I have to have the potatoes cooked, the coffee water hot and the kitchen warm by the time Ma and Dad come home. I can’t wait for the mill to blow its whistle and ride home with them to an empty cold house. I run to the mill office which is just across the road, being careful not to run in front of the Merrill Transport trucks passing through. My Uncle Dwight works in the office and maybe he will save my neck.
I am afraid Ma and Dad will be angry but I have no choice! I go in the office and there are women sitting at desks and I see my Uncle Dwight, who gets right up and comes to me. I ask him if he will give me a ride home, and I never even think that he is working on his job and maybe his boss won’t like it. He says sure I will and he takes my hand and walks me to his car. I am eleven years old but I feel like I am five years old right now. How could I miss the bus? I never have in my whole life! Uncle Dwight puts me in the car and we drive down the Greenwood road and he tells me all the way not to worry and that he will get me home on time. He pulls into our driveway and I thank him over and over. He looks at me and smiles and says, anytime you need me, Sandra. He is so nice and so handsome. I hope his boss won’t be mad that he just walked out of the office.
Sometimes being eleven and having all these chores is a mighty heavy load, I swear.