It is a fine summer day with a little breeze coming through the birches behind Miss Hobbs’ big house. I am perched on a five rung step-ladder and washing windows. I don’t like the job, but it has provided me the opportunity to get out and breathe in the beautiful fresh air. After a morning of dragging blankets from the moth balled chest and hanging them on the clothes line, it is like a drink of cool water! I haven’t counted how many windows I’ve washed, but Miss Hobbs said to just go at it and get as many done as I can before it is time for the walk home. She has a friend visiting from New York City, so the problems of her fading roses and other woes have taken a back seat this week. Her gentleman friend is hearing impaired and sometimes his speech is difficult to understand, but once you see him smile, that takes second seat. He is an older man and very nice to me. Not long ago, he came wandering by and stopped to chat a minute . When he was to leave, he handed me a five dollar bill all folded up and said in a hushed voice, “Take this, you earn it.” I was so stunned, I said thank you and put it in my pocket. He smiled and patted my shoulder and away he went. I think maybe Miss Hobbs is a bit intimidating to him as well!
One thing good is that I can participate in my favorite pastime and that is thinking and letting my mind wander as I wash and dry the tiny panes of glass. I am confused whether I am happy to be going to a new school or if I should be a little scared. All I have known is the Locke Mills school and its three rooms. I am not used to being around a lot of kids and some a lot older than me. I am only thirteen and I know some of the kids are at least five years older than me in the new school.
I have a lot of memories with the old school. Some are good and some not so good. My own cousin, Colby Martin, chased me around that school with a snake in his hands. I was about eight years old, I think, and I screamed and screamed because I was and still am terrified of snakes. I ran to the teacher and she assured me he would not be allowed to put the snake on me.
Again, when I was quite small, I came around the school house one noon and Leslie Roberts had thrown a football and it hit me square in the nose. Oh, how the blood gushed. I didn’t know he was around the corner and I am sure he was surprised to see where the football landed. The teacher held my face over the wash basin in the hall and cleaned me up pretty good.
Oh, Lord, I hope there are teachers with a sense of humor in the new school. I am going to try my best to not let my humor get me in trouble. One of the worst moments was when I was in fifth grade and a teacher did not like teaching hygiene to begin with ( I suspect) and when I topped it off with a smart remark, I found myself suspended in mid air by my hair. She actually pulled me out of my seat by my hair!! It hurts me to even think of it now. You can bet after that, I had my mouth closed when I was sitting near her!!!
When I was sick with the old fashioned measles, Rex came home from school with the prettiest box. It was decorated with beautiful crepe paper and all the kids had brought something from home to put in it to make me feel better. It was called a “Sunshine Box”. I was beginning to recover and in the box were some horehound drops. They tasted pretty good, so I kept eating them since my parents were still at work. By the time they got home, I was sick in good shape. Ma sputtered to me and took the drops away and told me how wrong that was to eat all those. I know now she was scared because she thought I was almost well and there I was, retching away. Rex and I always took something from home to contribute to the “Sunshine Box” when one of the kids was sick for a long time.
Now I am going to a school that is so grown up, there won’t be Sunshine Boxes or Valentine Boxes or anything else fun, probably. I don’t know if I am going to like it or not.
I remember when the State Police came! I was in the fourth grade and they took our finger prints and one great tall man was taking notes. He noted I had a mole on the side of my face. I wanted to tell him that Grammy Martin says that is a beauty spot , but I was afraid of him, with that uniform and all. I could see Ma’s face if they put those handcuffs on me and dragged me out the front door for being smart mouthed!
And the school doctor! Will the new school have its own doctor? I doubt it. Dr. Boynton comes every once in awhile to check up on our health. I was not too keen on standing in line in the hallway for our smallpox vaccination. I think I was about nine years old and since everyone else in front of me got it and didn’t say anything, I figured I could do it. Well, let me tell you, I went home with that little round thing on my upper arm and I still have the imprint of it to this day. That took quite awhile to heal and we took little booklets of information home so our parents could read on how to treat it and how long it would take to heal.
Miss Hobbs has her head out the upstairs window to tell me it is four o’clock and time for me to walk home. How a woman can speak that clearly with a cigarette in the corner of her mouth is beyond me! I wonder how she teaches school all day without it.
Enough thinking for one day. I have washed all the windows downstairs on the backside of the house. I’ll grab the step ladder, put it in her “rec” room and head up the road for the walk home. Bet when I get to the top of the mountain and see that house, I will start thinking about the days of Vacation Bible School a few years ago and how much fun I had staying at Winnie Hanscom’s for a week and walking up every day and making new friends. Before I know it, I will be down the other side of the mountain.
It’s a good afternoon for walking and especially with a five dollar tip in my pocket!!
** I recently asked my cousin, Colby, if he remembered chasing me with the snake. He replied ( with glee, I am sure) that indeed he did. He also mentioned a secret way that he and others got into the school basement…I didn’t dare ask about that.