It was November of 1955; an elementary school girl was writing to her older sister who was 50 miles away doing her practice teaching. Fifty miles today is traveled at the spur of the moment. My commute each day consists of about 50 miles when I consider both to and from work. It’s just not that far.
Today we talk to folks on mobile phones all over the world and can send them an email or text message that they will get almost immediately. It is mind-boggling watching all of those words flying through the air.
This was about 60 years ago and folks still wrote letters; letter writing is an art that has almost been forgotten. Folks delete many memories when they dump their email’s inbox. It is one of the reasons I enjoy writing, I hope that someday my children will read some of my silliness to their grandchildren.
My brother recently gave me a stack of letters he had found that had been written to our Mama. Most of them were from her mother, sister and our Daddy. Mama passed away in 2012.
They are simply beautiful.
This one was written by her then 10 year-old sister who was 50 miles away in another small Alabama town, but still “staying in touch.” So the little girl is my aunt and she was writing to my Mama, who was 21 at the time.
In this particular letter she began with the normal, “How are you? I am doing just fine. When are you coming home?”
The letter sounded boring, but it wasn’t. It got much, much better. As I continued to read, it was apparent that Mama’s little sister was doing better than “just fine.”
She had been “getting to third base,” and let me tell you what; third base was good.
Before we get to third base, I should note that my aunt at 10 years old was doing about average in school, but average was better than her fellow students. Does that sound familiar?
She made a 76 on her arithmetic test, but it was “better than a lot of others.” She only missed two questions on her science test, giving her an 88 on her 6-weeks test.
Now, moving on to third base…
Mama's little sister wrote,
“I still play baseball. Forest made the most home runs for the boys. He will get to choose Monday.”
Looking at the date of the letter, it was on a Friday in 1955. I suppose since Forest “got the most home runs” he got to be captain and pick for his team on the next Monday at recess. November in Alabama is a great time for baseball. The Dodgers had one month earlier won their first and only World Series while being in Brooklyn, beating the New York Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series at Yankee Stadium.
Yogi Berra’s 10 hits in 7 games and Whitey Ford’s two wins just weren’t enough to keep the cross-town Dodgers from their destiny.
My aunt went on to say that there was a new girl in her class named, “Bonnie.” Bonnie seemed nice and wanted to be my aunt’s friend. Bonnie was also very perceptive and did her part to carry out elementary school romance.
You see Bonnie made it to third base, while my aunt was playing third base and they had an extended conversation that took up most of this letter written to my Mama in 1955.
My Mama’s 10 year-old sister wrote,
“She (Bonnie) asked Forest today if he still likes me. She (Bonnie) said he said, “Oh Yes.” She told me this at third base. She is also the scorekeeper.”
Oh goodness gracious, was Bonnie ever the “scorekeeper.”
There were quite a few “She told him’s” and “He told her’s.” I had a hard time believing Forest really said “Wow” that many times, but he may very well have. Bonnie was doing her part to stoke the fire.
To read the words of a 10 year-old girl puts a lot of things in perspective. In the last paragraph alone, she went into great detail on her outfit she wore for her school picture.
“I wore my white sweater and my skirt with the ponies on it and your greenish blue scarf and white soft balls on the white roping.”
I’m not sure about the “soft balls,” I think they were like pom poms on a collar or something.
Anyway, she went on to say that when she walked up to Mrs. Jones’ desk… I stopped at this point and could see a 10 year-old girl doing some sort of runway modeling job with skirt ponies galloping in mid-air, helping her float her way to the teacher’s desk at the front of the room.
Of course, Bonnie was watching this, taking notes, keeping score and waiting for Forest’ reaction; it was her job.
Bonnie told her that she heard Forest say out loud, “Wow.”
She was sure he said it!
I’m sure Forest’ mouth drooped open real wide when he said it. He could have been just looking at the ponies galloping in mid-air, but according to Bonnie it was the real deal.
My aunt at 10, saved the best line of her letter for last, she knew what she was doing. She had her eyes on Forest and according to Bonnie; Forest had his eyes on my aunt.
The last line of the letter read, “I think Sally likes him (Forest), but she’s not going to have him.”
Doggone it Forest, I’m much older now, but I still want to know, I need to know, what was your secret?
James Dean and Frank Sinatra may have been big deals in 1955, but it sounded like Forest owned the playground.
My aunt included a “PS” for Mama to please bring the typewriter home. I suppose she wanted to write poems about Forest.
I think “getting to third base” probably meant something different on an elementary school playground in 1955 Alabama.
Honestly, I think I would like to “get there.” All I can say is, “Wow.”
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