Wednesday, September 14, 2011

School Days

My brother, Michael Gene (Mike), wasn't particularly thrilled with having a baby sister but he was however totally devoted to his big brother Butch. Mike wouldn't allow Mom and Dad to leave him with any other baby sitter. He was Butch's shadow and idolized him. Mike was also a pretty baby, so pretty in fact that he won a baby contest only to be disqualified when they discovered he was a boy. It seems he won in the girl's category due in no small part to the beautiful long curls my mother did not have the heart to cut.
People often mistook Mike and I for twins since we were so close in age. We were however opposite in looks and personality. Mike had dark brown hair and brown eyes. He had dark complexion where I was fair and blue eyed. When we were little I was very passive and Mike was as stubborn as a goat. When he was about four years old the decision was made that he would begin sleeping in his own bed and Butch would move out into the newly converted garage bedroom. Well, this didn't settle well with Mike and for three nights he was put to bed at which time he would promptly get up and go to Mom and Dad's room to announce he wasn't sleeping in that bed. After all attempts to put him back in his own bed had failed he was told he could sit on the end of their bed but he would not be allowed to sleep there. Every time he would start to nod off Mom would nudge him awake with her foot. This went on for three nights before he finally surrendered from exhaustion.

There were never too many rules imposed upon Mike and I, maybe because we were the babies and maybe because our parents were more relaxed with us. But mom did have one big rule and that was that we were to play in the back yard only. This wasn't a real big problem since we had a swing set (which Mike was great at swinging higher and higher until he could turn the whole thing over) and we had a great dog named Rusty. But the rule did present a problem when the Howdy Doody ice cream truck came dinging its' way down the street. It was impossible to reach through the fence all the way to the curb. Sometimes when we were able to attract the attention of the "big kids" on the block they would take our dimes and make our ice cream purchase for us. One of those "big kids" was Bobby Cohen. He was the big brother of, now country and western singer, Vince Gill. Vince was just a baby at that time but they lived just a few doors away.

Even though Mike and I didn't have many interests in common and we seldom played together, I wasn't thrilled when he started going to school. Our house wasn't far from the grade school, which was just on the other side of the university’s intramural field. If I stood on the top of the swing set in the back yard I could see the school. Every day I would watch Mike as he crossed the field
on his way to school and I would watch again at 3:00 pm for his return. I wasn't sure what this school business was all about but I knew I didn't like being left out of it. 

Then in October Mike took me to school with him to attend his Halloween party. We walked across the intramural field along with other kids dressed in assorted ghoulish costumes. I followed Mike down the school sidewalk to the very last classroom with the big, blue door. Inside were rows of tiny desks and chairs. I was very impressed when my brother directed me to his assigned place in the room. The teacher brought a little chair and placed it next to my brother’s. Then a wonderful thing happened, out of nowhere, mothers showed up with huge assortments of cookies. There were orange pumpkins, chocolate witches and vanilla ghosts. I thought this school thing was pretty cool and I could hardly wait until it was my turn to go.

       All summer I eagerly waited for the first day of school. My visit in October had convinced me this was the place to be. Finally the day arrived but I wondered why Mike wasn't sharing my enthusiasm as we neared our classroom doors. Then I went inside, there were the same rows of little desks, the same little chairs, but wait, NO COOKIES! I wondered if it was too late to reconsider this school thing. Unfortunately, it was!


Arkansas Patti said...

Ah that first day of school, it leaves such an impression, sometimes for what is not there.
Neat story.

kenju said...

I don't even remember my first day of school, but I do remember that we had a cloak room, and a boy kissed me on the cheek in that cloakroom! His name was Rob Lawson.