Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
From Start to Finish
I honestly-think that this piece needs to have a beginning because if I didn’t unearth the nostalgic beginning, then you would NOT understand the beginning much less the end. Fair enough?
It was 1963. Early October. Fall. God took a day off to do some painting—and what a Superior job that He did by designing the gorgeous landscapes, trees, and other forms of life. I remember being happy. I was in the third grade. I had attended (this) country school, New Home, for the second time. In 1961, I began at this proverbial rural school due to my birthday not falling to coincide with the County School System’s Start and Stop School Schedule.
That was fine. I spent my days wasting time, playing with my dogs, “Baby Dog,“Ballie,” and “Gray Bones,” who by the way, was NOT a dog, but a mule. She was not even a gasoline-burning tractor, but a strong, obedient animal that helped to give my dad a lot of corn and cotton by her tough work ethic.
But I digress. These few thoughts do NOT have one thing to do with my main topic: Third-Grave Love With an Older Woman. You can laugh if you like, but I lived it. Was it fun? No. Sickening. But I will have to explain.
The Verb I Should
say besides “Sickening,” also begins with an “S,” and the word is Struggling. If any of you guys are reading this hub then you are relating to my every word. This, my friends, is not a fairy-tale, but real life. And real life really doesn’t have handsome prince’s riding white stallions to go into the dangerous woods to rescue gorgeous blond damsels. No. Real life does have pretty blondes, but also redheads and oh, those beautiful brunettes. And I really do NOT want the blondes or redheads to be peeved at me. I love you too. Did I say that already?
I was quite-settled-down into the third grade at New Home School, which did have two rooms and was held-down by this man and wife tag team teachers, Mr. and Mrs. L.J. Ballard. Mrs. Gertrude Ballard taught first through third grades and Mr. L.J. Ballard taught fourth through the sixth grade and served as the school principal. He was tough. So tough that I would put him with any Marine drill sergeant on the block. I’ve witnessed the time when we, the classes in Mrs. Ballard’s room would be in a big way of talking, and Mr. Ballard would walk into the room .. .DEAD SILENCE. Should I say more?
I was sitting my desk and writing sentences (for practice), an easy assignment given my Mrs. Ballard—and I do NOT say this in a braggart way, but sentences and I were made for each other.
But I’m digressing again. Sorry.
All I remember is getting a great view of this gorgeous brunette with long brunette hair and it kinda swung back and forth as she walked. It was love at first sight if there ever was a case of instant attraction. I would name her here, but I think that would be a bit much. But I will say that the adjective that I chose, “gorgeous,” did not do her justice. She was more beautiful. Plus, she was an older woman, as it were. She was in the fourth grade and well on her way to being a drop-dead, Blue Ribbon-winning Brunette that just walked by my desk on her way to Mr. Ballard’s room.
I remember it well. As she walked by, it was like she was walking in slow motion. And a 40-piece orchestra was hitting each note by some musical piece by one of The Masters, Ludwig Van Beethoven, if I have remembered (this) life-changing moment the way it really happened.
There was a huge lump that formed in my throat. It could have been that I swallowed my pencil as I had this habit of placing my No. 2 pencil to the right side of my mouth while I was looking over my sentence work. It was not the pencil, but I had a good notion as what it was: L-O-V-E! Not Puppy Love. Not a Serious Crush, but LOVE, PURE LOVE! I thought that I was going to die!
But as she slowly opened the two wooden doors that led to Mr. Ballard’s room, this Rural Goddess looked back at me and smiled. And that was it. I was never the same after that. I had to chalk this one down for this beautiful girl have super peripheral vision. That had to be and I was so happy that the day was not over because our lunch time was coming and I knew right then and there that I just had to somehow walk over her (if she wasn’t with her girlfriends) and say hi to her.
Needless to Say This
gorgeous creation of young girlhood and I never got the chance to talk. Oh, she and I did manage a wave of our hands while we were at recess, but that was it. And when I say, “it,” I mean it. End of story.
That was October 1963 and my family and I moved yet again, and this was so my dad could take work as a machinist in a nearby town because the crop produce prices had declined to such a point that no farm owner could afford the work that my dad and others provided. I did not get to attend New Home anymore. Where we moved was not in (that) school’s School System, so at daylight, I had to get ready to meet the Hamilton (Ala.) School Bus when it ran past my sister’s house which was a long way from our house.
By now, I was in the fourth grade and my heart was set on this gorgeous brunette. No other thought process, no matter how good or rich, was as good as she was. So I endured the fourth grade as best I could and then “that” day, Nov. 23, 1963, came around and the rest of the fourth grade students (me included) were on the playground when up ran Tommy Nix, one of the few friends I had.
Then he delivered what was arguably THE worst news that I, or anyone else would ever hear: “Teacher in there said that Kennedy’s been killed!”
From that moment on, none of our lives were ever the same. It was a time of mourning for my teacher, (a) Mrs. Rosa Bolling and the rest of the faculty and student body. But there was that almost-silent thought about my pretty brunette at New Home. If only November 23, had not been created.
30 Years Later
I was working at the Journal Record, our local newspaper, I’ve mentioned this business several times. In the weekly-edition, I had written a column about this Brunette Angel and NO, I did not mention her name. But I mentioned the day when she walked by my desk and my life as a kid ended. And my life as a heart-broken guy started.
Now. I was at the New Home School Reunion that we, the remaining students, were having. I was just standing around sipping some Dr. Pepper when SHE walked toward me. My heart kicked into high gear. My throat felt like I had swallowed a spoonful of sand. My hands were sweaty. What should I do, I thought? And at this juncture, running even at my age, was not out of the question.
The gorgeous brunette and yes, her husband were standing within a foot of my face. The two nodded and spoke.
And just like it was 30 years ago when she first walked by my desk, then looked back to enter Mr. Ballard’s room . . .she smiled. And to make this moment even more savored: she said that she had enjoyed the column that had appeared in the paper and said, almost silently, you were talking about me. Thank you, she said still smiling.
Take it from me. Days like this, even 30 years ago, are moments to be treasured.
March 26, 2019___________________________________________