Friday, July 8, 2011

4 women who made a big impression on me as a little kid

Baseball Playing Gayne: In the early seventies, there were no organized sports in Philo for young girls. And a girl had never asked to be allowed to play Little League baseball. I’m guessing that her parents talked it out with the folks in charge beforehand, because when we gathered for our first practice one year, Gayne showed up and acted as if she had every right in the world to be there. We laughed about it a little bit, but I don’t remember anyone giving her any grief. It had never occurred to us that a girl would ever want to play on a real team. We were only 8 or 9 years old, so it wasn’t like there was a huge talent difference between Gayne and us boys. The next year, a couple more girls played. Years later, they added softball. Gayne broke the gender barrier in Philo sports.

Craig’s mom: One day during recess, we were playing buck-buck on the school playground. We weren’t supposed to be playing because the nuns said it was too dangerous. Craig lived about a block away, and during lunch that day, his mom walked down to drop off his lunch. It was 30+ years ago, but I still remember her walking up wearing an orange tank top with no bra underneath. Every boy just stood there and stared while she and Craig talked along the side of the road. You would have thought we were all staring at a naked woman.

Mizz Whats-her-name: When I was in 3rd grade, I was pulled out of my regular classroom to work on the pronunciation of my N’s and S’s with the speech teacher. For part of the year, the teacher’s name was Ms. Something. The unusual thing about this is that NO ONE had ever been called “Mizz” before. It was always Mrs. or Miss. I remember her taking a few minutes to give us a mini lesson in women’s lib and to explain what being called “Mizz Such-and-such” meant. It was like she had invented a new word or something. I couldn’t wait to go home and tell mom about it.

Next door neighbor Tammy: One day when I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was playing in the lot next door with some neighbor kids, including Tammy, who was probably 5 years older than me. The lot included a garden full of sweet corn. I had to go pee, so I walked over to the corn. Tammy told me that I had to try to run around the entire corn “field” *while* I was peeing. I don’t remember her daring me to do it – she just told me matter-of-factly that I had to. I did it, and I remember getting pee all over me, including in my mouth. I started crying and Tammy told me that if I told anyone what happened, that she would kill me. I kept my mouth shut, which is what I should have done while I was peeing. I was scared of not only Tammy, but of her whole family. More than once, her dad told me the story of how he got shot in the mouth during "the war". The bullet knocked out all his 4 front teeth and lodged in the back of this throat. Tammy's older brother Mike went to Vietnam. When he came back, he had a tattoo and an earing. He was the first guy I had ever seen with an earing. It freaked me out.

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