The human brain amazes me more each day of my life. I fell asleep yesterday afternoon on the sofa and when I woke up some television show was on with a main character named Joanne. Still semi-conscious and half-dazed suddenly I was back in Fayetteville, North Carolina riding the school bus with my best friend Joanne. (I can’t even remember her last name but I remember every detail of how she looked, her voice, and the friendship bond we had for four years growing up.)
From third grade through sixth grade Joanne was my seating bus partner…my protector! How quickly we forget the importance of having a best friend for a buddy partner on the bus…without one…left to the randomness of fate a school child can have a pretty miserable bus experience…teased by other children about whatever physical flaw could be emphasized making one the laughing stock of the bus.
Joanne’s and my physical flaws were comparable in judgement. I was teased and called “Bucky Beaver” because my front teeth separated and then stuck out. I would try so hard not to smile…but it just wasn’t in my nature and as soon as I did…the teasing started.
Joanne pretty blue eyes appeared too close together…from a distance crossed (though in reality they weren’t) and she had to wear these big old “coca-cola bottle” glasses that kept falling down her nose.
We were quite the pair…”Bucky Beaver and “Coke Bottle Eyes.” We would defend each other from taunts and felt like we could take on the whole world. The bad part was when one of us got sick or missed school…our security was gone…and the day went downhill rapidly.
The worst day of my life was the first day of school being bused all the way out to almost Fort Bragg (Civil rights busing had just become law) to the new Horace Sisk Junior High…no trees, flat as a pancake edifice in once what had been a cow pasture…the dreariest school you ever saw and now Joanne had moved and I was all alone with my buck teeth traveling twice the old distance as before.
One new student took pity on me and somehow I made it through that year and the next before we moved to Laurens where I started high school. Memories of too many “Bucky Beaver” comments had me issuing my final ultimatum to mother…the only way I was going to move and go to a new high school was if I had braces….“Take or leave it.” (Normally I really wasn’t that defiant…but I was desperate…I simply refused to start a new school without braces…I couldn’t face my high years as “Bucky Beaver” too.
Aunt Eva was my superhero…back then braces were very expensive and you had to wear them for years….but Eva went to bat for me…(I imagine even helping out with the expenses) so on the first day of school in Laurens, South Carolina I proudly wore my braces!
I didn’t get my braces off until the day before senior pictures…I stayed up all night to make sure my hair would be straight and not frizzy and for the first time I smiled back at the photographer…a feeling of total victory.
And strangely enough the first person I wanted to tell about this long-awaited personal victory was Joanne. Joanne with the straight as a stick hair-do (straight bangs and sides that I envied since straight hair was huge in the sixties)
I wanted to write her and thank her for being there for me when I needed a friend so badly…and that I hoped she, too, had experienced her day of overdue “reckoning”… that the coke bottle glasses were long-gone and her contacts showed off her beautiful blue eyes.
So until tomorrow….I think angels appear when we most need them in the form of little girl loyal friends who fight off childhood detractors on buses. Guardian angels who reassure each other that their time is coming…Cinderella will appear one day for each! Never give up hope.
Joanne…wherever you are today…please know how much your friendship meant to me… it made childhood so much more bearable!
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
I DID IT!!!! WITH A WHOPPING FIFTEEN DOLLARS AND 31 CENTS LEFT IN MY CHECKING ACCOUNT…I MADE IT THROUGH JANUARY TO SOCIAL SECURITY DAY PENSION
! I KNEW I COULD DO IT…ACTUALLY THE CHEST CONGESTION WITH LOTS OF YOUR SOUPS PROBABLY FILLED IN THAT LAST WEEK’S MEALS ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY….A SILVER LINING IN EVERY CLOUD!
A special shout-out to Sharon Joyce from Forest Home, AL who sent me the prettiest thank-you card with such a caring message about spreading “Kindness, love, and peace around the world.” It made my day. And the smaller card placed inside sums up the message…