One year, we got little orange dinner buckets. I was so proud of mine. Once, I left it in the room on the last day of school and I was worried about it all summer long. When I went back for it, in the fall, it was right where I'd left it. As we got too old for them, they were passed down to the younger ones.
I loved the big biscuits Mom made for our lunches. She would fry thick slices of bologna and make sandwiches for us. The thought of them even now makes my mouth water.
The year when I thought I'd be in the third grade, Mom told me I was held back and had to go to second grade another year. I didn't question her and went to the second grade room. About six weeks later, the teacher found out that Lucille - a year behind me - was the one that didn't get promoted. I had been put in the second grade again because Mom got the kids mixed up! The people at the school decided to leave things like they were and that's why Lucille and I were in the second grade at the same time. I really can't blame Mom because she had so many kids to look out after.
Mom even made overalls for us boys. We hardly knew what it was to get store bought clothes. I remember many times when the boys had to go to bed so Mom could wash our overalls. We only had one pair each.
After I met Kathy, I really wanted to make a good impression on her and I'd make sure I looked as spiffy as possible. On days when the road was muddy, I'd leave early so I could clean my shoes in the creek after I'd walked out of the hollow.
When I dropped out of school for a year, after my sophomore year, I sent the family every penny I could and still managed to save enough to go back and finish the last two years of high school. Greeley Jr was the only one that had graduated at that time and I wanted to show Dad I could do it too. Besides, I had my heart set on being a teacher or a doctor. Little did I know then that it was an impossible dream.
I budgeted everything right down to the cost of my class ring and my cap and gown for graduation. I allowed myself ten cents a day for lunch and, when I didn't give it to the younger girls to help with their lunches, I'd buy myself a longneck Coke and a honey bun. I'd go to John and Della Mae Coleman's little dance place next to the school and watch the boys play pinball while I ate my lunch.
I often wished I could ask Kathy to have lunch with me, but I knew I couldn't afford to buy her anything. She told me after we met again that she didn't even have lunch most of the time much less lunch money.
Luther G. Eldridge©
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