First Brush With Higher Education

Published: Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 09:54 AM.

            We could hop the L&N freight train that came through every evening. We’d had about all of the schooling we needed anyhow. We knew better than to discuss the plan with our parents. Grown-ups have a terrible problem understanding our fears at times. They think because THEY understand that naturally it should be just as clear and simple to us. Parents are the world’s worst at remembering sometimes what being young is really like.

            Bobby and I figured “low to the ground” was best. When Miss Belle stepped down the hall to have a smoke, we’d jump out the third grade window and collect a bug, dirt or some grass to throw on Pam, Ruth Ann or Betsey. We try that next year and the dirt might be on us!

            We pooled our money and bought a can of Red Bird Imitation Vienna sausage and a box of saltine crackers out at Pat Houston’s Grocery. We didn’t worry about clothes and toothbrushes. I did think about my ball glove and my big magnet. But Bobby said we had to travel light. I told Leon we were going. I figured my folks would worry if they didn’t have some clue as to my whereabouts.

            Leon studied on our plan for a moment. “Have you guys lost you ever lovin’ minds? That ammunition plant is the most unsafe place in the world! They have an explosion or a fire about twice a month. Can you imagine a fire in a bullet factory?”

            Good grief! My life had boiled down to being blown to tiny bits in Milan or being eaten alive up on the second floor of the elementary school.

            The speed of the freight train sealed out fate. We couldn’t catch it. We had to face the monsters on high. Me and Bobby climbed those steps haltingly, but together. Miss Dinwiddie smiled at us on the very first morning and I could tell right from the start that she wasn’t going to let the creatures get us. As a matter of fact, the fourth grade was a lot like all the others, except the spelling words were longer. And we quickly learned to stomp the floor and moan as loud as we could. And we’d give no hint to the young kids in the grades below as to what was really taking place “up there”.

            They had to face their own demons, just like we did.

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