So once upon a time, I was born. And then a couple years later, my sister was born. So there were the two of us.
And from the moment we were cleaned up at the hospital until…well…it continues to this day…our father has been there with a camera, snap snap snapping away. Of course, he can’t help it; he’s a photographer.
But that’s not what this is about.
Like I said, I was born, and several years later I turned five, and that September I went to Kindergarten. I’d been to Nursery School the year before, but everyone knows that Kindergarten is the Big Time.
And, as it is in zillions of homes all over the world, parents (or one of them) dress their children in their Nice New Clothes, take out their cameras, and snap pictures of little Johnny (or, in my case, little Jaynie) on that Very Important Day.
So here’s me on my first day of Kindergarten. The camera had only recently been invented, so I’m kind of proud that I even HAVE a photo of me from way back then.
The collar was white.
And the smocking. Lots of smocking. It, too, had just been invented, and it was all the rage.
White socks, and I believe the shoes were brown, but I’m not entirely sure.
Anyway, there I am, with my Buddy Ebson white eyebrows and my single braid. I still look like that, in case you were wondering, only my teeth are bigger. And I’m taller.
So anyway, there I am, standing in the front part of our house – the business end of it – and I am fairly certain my father had been the one to tell me to cling to the newel post for dear life and to let my other hand just hang there in a relaxed way. Yeah, I’m just holding up the stairs here, don’t mind me. Hope my eyebrows aren’t causing you snow blindness. Note the "Dad, am I done yet?" smile.
Well, I survived that year and progressed from Kindergarten to the First Grade.
By then I had matured considerably. I was a Wordly Woman and had no more need of smocking.
And here I am – oh, look, I just happened to be walking through the yard this way on my way home from First Grade and my Dad just happened to be hanging out by the side of the house near the hedge with his camera, just a-waitin’ for something to happen. It’s all in the timing, you know. (The bus, by the way, dropped me off on the side of the house – to the left of where my father is when he shot this picture – and so unless I snuck all the way around the other side of the house for some reason, it is pretty unlikely that I would be showing up in the front yard like that. Just so you know.)
As you can see, I’m much more at home in the world. Gone is the smocking – I am now stylish in a medium blue striped affair, with lines that run both vertically and horizontally. Still have the white socks. And those may even be the same shoes for all I know.
But mainly you need to look closely at the lunch box. Okay, you probably can’t tell from the picture. But it’s a soft-sided kind of lunch box, with a themos. And. It’s close to the same shade of blue as there is on my dress. And. It’s a ^*(@)!*#^%!(_ lunchbox. Oops. My fingers spasmed. I meant to say, it’s a Barbie lunch box. I actually had one. So, as you can see, back then, I was cool. I was happenin’. I had wisps of hair blowing across my forehead. And I had a note in my other hand. Not sure what that was about, but it gives me a rather purposeful air, doesn’t it?
Well. After that, the depression hit and we fell on hard times. And also, two years later, my sister entered the First Grade and I became a Third Grader. But times, they were a’hard, and so we couldn’t afford new clothes. We just made do, like so many other families. Oh, and color film had just been invented, and we got a free roll after entering a contest and saying alls we wanted was some color film so we could have nice first day of school pictures that year and so people could see what color our dresses were. And my new lunch box. I was over Barbie by then.
Oh, and of course that’s not my REAL sister. Because my REAL sister is a black belt in karate and would mash me to a pulp if I posted a picture of her with fangs on the internet. That’s SOME OTHER little first grade girl that my parents bribed with a nickel because my REAL sister was down the street getting her nails and hair done. They always liked her better. They did.
You don’t believe me? Case in point – that "dress" I’m wearing.
Um…wasn’t there some sort of dress code back then that said little girls shouldn’t wear dresses that barely hide their Days of the Week undies? (And actually, we were too poor to have days of the week undies. We could only afford Tuesday.)
Yes. That "dress." I put it in quotes like that because, come on, really. It’s not a dress. I believe it used to be a dress – three years prior, when I was a shorter individual. But at this point? I think it’s something a little girl should dress her dolls in, not herself. That little girl next to me – HER parents knew how to preserve a young lady’s modesty. THAT dress is only a couple inches above the knee. My "dress" is barely an inch below my…well…my Tuesday!
I can’t even speak of my shoes. I…no…no…I can’t.
Oh, and another thing about that…that garment I am tarted up in. it’s got innocent (but properly attired) school children all over it, and rows and rows of little math problems. I don’t know why a clothing manufacturer for school-aged children would purposely design something guaranteed to get the unlucky wearer EXPELLED for cheating on her math tests. If lawyers had been invented back then, we probably could have sued the designer, but alas, there weren’t, so we couldn’t.
And thus ended my school career. I was an eight-year-old expellee with no pants. And those shoes.
Thrown out of my home, my head lowered in shame, I set out to find a job. All I had going for me were rudimentary math skills and a dopey expression on my face.
Well, those, and my killer gams, and a dream…
He took pity on me.
Bought me new clothes…new shoes…pink ears…
I was set for life.
I sent money home to the family so they could buy more color film and pay that girl with the fangs to pose in pictures as my sister so my real sister, when she became the black belt in karate that she was destined to be one day (killer gams of a different sort, eh?), she wouldn’t mash me to a pulp.
And that, dear friends, is how I became the woman I am today.