Kenneth Avery is a Southern humorist with well over a thousand fans. The charm and wit in his writing span a nearly a decade.
"I need to be serious, well more serious for producing a "piece of my heart," (nod to Janis Joplin). But all of the brand-names, including New Home School; Hamilton Grammar School, 4-H Club; and the New Home School students' names I did not put them into a comical light. But a sheer, hard-cold truth to be in love in the third grade."
— Kenneth Avery
To Be Completely-Honest
(Or Should Have I Said, Incompletely-Honest?)
This is really, truly, no exaggeration intended -- Janet was my first love. Maybe I should write, my "very" first love. That one would sound (and read) more appropriate. I am giving my first "flame," a lot of respect. Because she was worthy of my third-grade mind. No jokes. How this first began, hopefully, is interesting enough to keep you glued to this piece and cause you to forget about all of the IRS and Medicare ads on TV. Why not? This is about love, true love.
In 1963, I met my real love. Not that I've hidden this from my wife, but when I did confess this, seemingly, she did not think that much of it. She merely wrinkled her nose, giggled a little, and talked of other things. Well . . .let me tell you. What is more serious in this life than True Love? I would publish a list, but I've written enough of those. Even the CIA., NFL, MLB, NBA and the good ole U.S.A. rate lower than Janet. She was my first love and I am publishing her real name. But not her last name because I know her husband and if he knew all about Janet and me, he unleash his bull-like strength on his stocky body that helped me shine on our high school football team as a halfback. Yay! Husband of Janet!
But seriously. I am telling you the truth. It really feels better than I thought. Guess that explains each time that I think of Janet, my heartbeat gets faster and my mouth grows dry.--Sure signs of pure love. But never a bad case of nausea. Even with the intensity with Janet, I never had to vomit to prove to friends that I loved her. Hopefully she knew it.
I Think That She Did Know How I Felt
because as memory serves, each time that we would meet, she would look away while I smiled. And she gave me several, I call them, "Half-Smiles," that I was excited to get and never understood until I reached 18. Life is like that. At least for me.
I started first-grade in 1961. Janet was in the fourth-grade. Love works in a mysterious way. First-grade was dangerous for me. On the first day, my third-grade class was told to head to the ball field for a game of softball. Wow! Talk about fun. It was, but only for 12 minutes. The teams chose who they wanted. I was chosen last. (e.g. "Lucas," starring Corey Haim) because I was told to play hind-catcher (an old-fashioned way to say catcher. Ball teams at 1961was infantile.
I was excited to just be on a ball team. I positioned myself behind the batter, one Charles Deline, a future buddy. He was a slugger. He didn't have to prove it because when the first pitch came tearing through the air, he "got it all,," (hit it solidly), and I didn't. I was knocked onto my back with a hundred-million stars and splashes of various colors running in my mind. I did learn in 1967 that kids in this year, did experiment with L.S.D., (the terms hundred-million stars and splashes meant that doctors and kids in '67 were so infantile about dangerous drugs.
Thank God for Mrs. Gertrude, our third-grade teacher. She was a do-it-all teacher. She read, taught, helped the girls learn to sew, and teach boys to NEVER go to the girls' outdoor toilets for face explosion for an indefinite time. No school. At least at New Home. Fact: most boys in 1961, would have almost killed to be expelled from any school. More about that later.
This is The Anthem for Every School in America When They Close or Shut-Down for The Summer or For Good.
Mrs. Ballard Was Also a Fine Doctor
but she didn't flaunt her talent. She knew exactly what to do about any health-based illness. In my case, she sat me down in front of my friends, Russell Lynch, Lomax Carrol, Billy Joe Carrol, Randal Prestridge and Rick Skinner. The girls included Joyce Terry, Donna Skinner, Becky Tice and Pat Nichols. I never knew it, but that was my first (and last) time that I was the center of attention.
Ballard whipped-out her handy Red Cross rubbing alcohol and splashed layer and layer onto my aching head that was swelling thanks again, to Charles "Babe Ruth" Deline who swung the bat and I got the big end. No problem. In weeks to come, we all became friends.
Now more about my first and real love, Janet, who by the way, was in the crowd who was concerned about my accident. Guess that this was the first time that she had ever witnessed a "home run" and my head was the ball. It still hurts even today.
But I never talked to Janet about "that" dumb accident. The truth is I had never played baseball because my parents and I had just bought a black and white Philco TV and with the outside antenna, the clearest show on the set was Saturday baseball, with commentator, Dizzy Dean, famous for his slang, "There ya' go, pardner. . ." He also had his own line of charcoal, but I won't comment about that. This is about Janet, my girl. Not about Dean or his charcoal.
From The Days of Red Cross Rubbing Alcohol
I began to grow spiritually as well as mentally. Now that I look back, guess that the bash on my head knocked something loose--giving me something in myself that I could use in future days. And no. I am not comparing this to Spider-Man, Iron-Man, or The Hulk. In a lot of ways, I wish that I had been given "those" tools.
Here I was in the third-grade. The best part of every two weeks was when our Marion Co., 4-H agent would visit us to share the latest helpful projects and teach us more things about health and how to treat others as well as animals. And sitting in the back was Janet, who was taking-in every bit of the agent's lectures. But I confess. I secretly wanted her to at least glance my way because I was sitting two or three desks in front of her. If she did glance and I missed it, I am the most-ignorant for missing it.
With the school year now waning, I knew that unless I said something meaningful, I would lose her and her long, brunette hair that I loved so much, so speak nothing about her gorgeous green eyes, tan complexion and soft voice. Now you say that third-grade guy cannot fall in love?
Actually this love thing had affected me so much that I would take down our Sears-Roebuck catalog and cut-out the brunette girl (models) who favorited Janet then place the pictures in a clean, glass jar along with a coupe of my feelings that I had written on paper. Then buried the jar in a place where no one would ever find it.
Then, the tragedy of tragedies happened: my parents and I moved to a new place near Hamilton, Ala., (my hometown), and I knew that my school days at New Home School, located in rural northwest Alabama, Marion County, was over. And I knew that I was felling the truth.
But . . .at Hamilton Grammar School, my new school, I had passed from New Home School to the fourth-grade. Things for us rural kids were rough. We were scored and made fun of almost daily. And the teachers were no better. I spent my time looking for Janet because I heard someone tell me tat New Home had shut-down because the State of Alabama Dept. of Education did not accredit the smaller schools like New Home, and there we were. Make it or escape.
In three years, we entered the fourth-grade at Hamilton High School at the high school addition to the building and I was in Junior High School. What a difference between the "Grade of Death" where we had served. The teachers were actually civil. Even a few of the "city kids, " but not all of them. They tried to run us out, but they failed miserably.
Then, (wouldn't you know it?) on "that" day, I forget what day it was because it didn't matter. I was walking toward our library and had one wall to take another direction at hall's end. Then as I turned, it was similar to MGM or Paramount films releasing their gems of drama, I looked and she looked. What? I first thought that I had died. I looked again. Then she smiled. Not just "a" smile, but "that" smile -- the one that I had fell in love with at New Home. And her gorgeous brunette hair had not changed, nor did anything else.
In years go come, I was blessed to work at our local newspaper and there, my boss said that I could write a column every two weeks and I loved it. I never knew at the time if Janet was still around or not. But I give God the thanks for His guidance in taking me to this job. One of my first columns was about Janet.
And how I knew that I was first in love with her. I said. Each time that I would see her, I would get really sick to my stomach. Yes, it was true love.
. . .and I've yet to recover.
The Epilog About Janet:
"After we graduated (years apart), I lost her for some reason, but that old fire was still in my heart. But read above about the column that my boss said to do about New Home School, well I was attending one of our New Home School Reunions and she walked up to me and said thanks for the column. I really appreciate it. I almost fainted. But in those few swift moments meant the world to me."
— Kenneth Avery
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