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It was late October. The leaves were slowly turning colors, but the days were still sunny and warm.
I was up and at it for another day of school and could smell hot buttered toast coming from the kitchen.
I walked in to find some Merita and a bowl of Wheaties waiting for me on the white enameled table.
Momma was scurrying about to making sure I’d be at school on time. Shucks, school was only three houses up the street. I seriously doubt I would be late, but I could never convince her of that.
We went over my spelling words one last time and then made certain all my books and pencils were in my book satchel.
The Colossus of the South was coming in strong on the kitchen radio. Grady Cole was talking about farming stuff, which didn’t interest me.
The ESSO weather man made his forecast of a nice warm day without a trace of rain.
Mama was busy, but as soon as the morning war news came on, she poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down to listen.
I could tell she was worried, which was magnified when she got up and started looking at the newspaper map tacked on the back of the kitchen door that pointed out where battles were being fought.
When the Sunday newspaper came, she would take down this map of Europe and replace it with the updated version.
Suddenly, she glanced at the mantle clock and rushed me down the stairs and out the front door.
Children were already running down the sidewalk. Mr. Dave Belk was standing in the middle of the street directing traffic and casting a stern eye toward noisy students.
As I trudged off to school, I couldn’t help but think about what happened the previous afternoon.
My encounter with a neighborhood bully had come to a satisfactory climax. We rolled around on the ground a little, kicked up a little dust, got a little skinned up and messed up our school clothes a little in the process. We agreed to disagree, but our little scuffle resolved our differences. I don’t believe he’ll be picking on me anytime soon, I thought.
I noticed a car with a black trailer hitched to it parked in the school driveway.
The wheels in my mind started turning.
Could it be a magic show to be held in the auditorium this morning?
Those things usually cost a dime.
Bless Pete, I don’t recall being told to bring any money to school. I did have a couple of brownies in my britches pocket, but seeing how I had been focused on setting something straight with a bully, I was exactly 8 cents short.
The truth was, the lack of a thin dime didn’t mean very much. If it was a show, everybody would get to see it, whether they had a dime or not. Our teachers would make up the difference just like they did in the lunch room.
You know, teachers are a strange breed. They’ll make you stand in front of the whole class and recite some dumb old poem, paddle your behind when they feel like it and then pay your way to a magic show when you are broke.
Well, the magic act turned out to be a dental hygiene puppet show and a free tube of Ipana toothpaste for each of us.
It was still shaping up to be a pretty good day. Or at least, until the music teacher walked through the door.
I hate music day and having to stand up and sing out loud while everybody laughs at you.
The school office opened just before recess and I needed to get rid of those two pennies I was carrying around. Baby Ruths and Butterfingers were on sale. No one was worried about calories and balanced diets. Besides, I had a new tube of Ipana, which was “dandy for your teeth” and should fight off any cavities.
I needed the extra candy bar energy to play out on the school yard. I liked the playing part, but could do without the dirt and sweat, once we returned inside.
Why is it always “times” time after recess time? Everything was going good until all this “2x4=8” multiplication table stuff hit.
Boy, our teacher really has it in for us and is throwing wood on the fire today.
I’m just getting the hang of this nouns and verbs stuff and now, she’s adding in adverbs, prepositions and pronouns. It’s enough to mess up your mind.
I was glad when it got time for geography, which was the last study of the day.
With the war going on, our geography books were really outdated. Our textbook photographs of European cites were a whole lot different from the ones we saw at the picture show newsreels.
Oh no, there it goes.
Now she’s writing a homework assignment on the chalkboard that’s due tomorrow morning. Another fine fall afternoon adventure just fell by the wayside.
Oh well, at least I have a new tube of toothpaste.