A Young Girls Dream
What does a young girl dream of? As a father of four daughters you would think I would know the answer to this question immediately but I must confess I don't.
The young girl I am thinking of lived in a family of seven on a small farm of modest means. Like so many families they did not consider themselves poor it was just the way things were. They had enough but nothing to spare although the parents were generous to people who needed a little help like food. They grew a large garden which produced more than enough fresh vegetables for them and they canned large quantity of food for the winter months. They would slaughter a pig or beef calf and process the meat. They raised chickens to produce eggs to eat and sell as well as the chickens for food. No they did not consider themselves poor that was just the way it was. This young girl would usually get two pair of shoes a year and wore a lot of hand me down dresses as well as many many her mother sewed. Going to a beauty shop was out of the question due to the cost. Her mother fixed her own hair and taught her to fix her own. Her father was a hard worker who did a lot of different jobs but was basically a carpenter.He was a strict union man and would not take any work that was not union. During parts of her early life there was a tremendous amount of construction taking place where he could be steadily employed but he would not take the jobs because they were not union. This meant that he often was unemployed. Her parents were very active in their church and the children were expected to attend all services with the parents. All members of the family had at least one set of clothing which was their "Sunday go to meeting cloths" meaning these were the cloths they wore to church. Many members of the church were financially in the same boat as her family but many were well off with nice cars, homes, cloths and things her family did not have. She did not mind but often thought (dreamed) about how it would be to have nicer things, The same situation applied to attending school. She did not have a lot of different cloths to wear to school. No fancy dresses just plain dresses or jean like pants. She did not mind she was just happy to have what she had but sometimes she would let herself dream of having better cloths or a pair of nice shinny shoes. No she was not jealous of others it was just that it would be nice to have more cloths but she was thankful for the fact that she had clean clothes to wear. So what were her activities during the school day beside attending class? She really enjoyed recess and playing various games with the other girls. Her school was a three room school with three teachers. First and second grade was in one room. The third, fourth and fifth was in the middle room. The sixth, seventh and eighth was in the largest room in the school. The principal taught these grades and this room had a large stage for school productions. The school did not have much play equipment so they had to share. They had a couple of bats and balls but generally no gloves. Some boys brought their own glove.Typically the boys and girls did not play together. They often argued over who was spending too much time on the swings, etc. She did not show much interest in the boys in general but there was one boy she seemed to like and she enjoyed walking home from school with him especially when they were alone. On other occasions she enjoyed spending time alone with him.
Several of the years when she was in grade school were the rough years of World War II with all the restriction, shortages, rationing and these were rough on any of the families regardless of their financial condition. Many things were available no matter how much money you had. Of course things could be bought on the black market if you had the money but her family neither had the money nor believed in this sort of illegal activity. But in spite of the hard ships there were a lot of really fun times. One for example during the summer months there was a traveling motion picture show that came to her community the same night each week and set up his screen on the school property. In her community the school house was the center of community activity much more so than any of the church buildings. Most times a church would hold service in the school building on Sunday. He always had some candy and other good tasting treats that he sold.The movie always consisted the latest news reel showing the progress of the war, cartoon, continuing serialized story such as a popular comic book character as well as the main feature which was normally a cowboy story. People attending paid a small price for admission and everyone sat on the hillside on the ground to watch the screen. After it was dark this one boy she had an interest in would find his way over to sit with her. She enjoyed that and always anxiously waited to see if he would come over. She dreamed that he might hold her hand. Of course being a young boy and afraid of what the other boys might say or tease him about being sweet on this girl he was very cautious. To her joy his hand might touch hers and that was as good as holding hands. To help the war effort it seemed like every month they had a "pie supper" in the large room at the school building. The girls and ladies would bring their finest pie, cake,cookies, and other tasty deserts and they would be auctioned off to raise money for the war effort. For the amount you bid you received a savings bond or savings stamps in that amount. Husbands generally bid on and bought their wives pie, etc. with of course some friendly bidding against each other to rise more money. The grade school girls as well as the high school girls would bring items and of course there was fierce bidding. Often the men would run the bid up to hassle the boys but most of the time would stop bidding when they realized the boy might not have enough money to buy his girl friends pie. If they accidentally out bid the boy they would give the item to him. Of course our young lady in question brought cookies and hoped that a certain boy would buy them which he usually did and acted so totally surprised when he found out that the cookies were hers. Summer vacations meant a lot of play time but also a lot of work on the family farm. There was always time for a walk around the community and through the many wooded areas. It was not uncommon as years progressed that this young girl and boy met and walked more frequently. The same was true for the winters. His father had a tractor with a sled and when there was snow he would take the kids on sleigh rides around the community and she always rode on the tractor with him. To do this she almost had to sit on his lap which made it all the better for her. At other times he would use the family wagon to take the kids for hay rides.Obviously, through grade school they became more of an item perhaps more so for her because he was hesitant to be labeled as her boy friend. But for her she could see that her dreams were starting to become reality.She had her eyes set on this particular boy. In the late 1940's she graduated from grade school one year behind him and she started to high school.The high school they attended was on the campus of the University of Arkansas. It was small and did not have much sports activity or bands. They did however field a team in basket ball and played other teams more like intramural leagues and on occasion won a trophy. She was active in a school choral group. There was no bus service provided for them so the community bought an old Grey Hound bus for the community kids to ride to high school with one of the boy students the driver. This boy in question was one of the drivers ( because his experience driving the family tractor and trailer) but when he was not driving he sat with our young lady and let's just say there was some serious hand holding. Sometime before high school both families moved off the farms and into the community where the grade school was located. Amazingly they moved almost next door to each other with just one house between them. This permitted much more frequent meetings and walks along the little stream that was near their homes.
What did she think about school? Well she was an average student who applied herself reasonably well to her studies but one of her high school teachers thought she could do better. You ask what were her dreams. I think the following story that she wrote Nov. 30, 1950 for her English 4B class perhaps says a lot about what some of her dreams were. this story is quoted as follows:
"A Light On Maple Street"
"It was while I was walking down the street, the sun had gone down and the purple of dusk was turning to the dark of night."
"As I passed the house I saw a light come on in the living room. It was a cheerful light that, somehow, seemed warmer than any of the lights in the neighboring windows. I often walk down Maple Street and every time I saw that light in the window I felt the same glow of satisfaction. It meant that all was well within."
"It so happened I knew who was in the house. I could picture the mother, who had put her children to bed and had settled herself for an evening of sewing or reading."
"And as I walked on, thinking how happy that home must be together with the people in it. I turned the corner and walked slowly home."
Her teacher gave her an A over A and wrote the following comment on her paper. "Why don't you do this more often. Good."
Her dream -- how good it would be to live in a happy home such as this with her own family around her. She was not thinking that her own home and family were not happy but that was what she wished/dreamed for herself in the future. I know this because she told told me this one time when I asked her about the story she had written. Out of the many items she wrote in school it is significant that she kept this story for all the years. She wanted a husband, her own home and children. She wanted a family around her. Her family. The thoughts expressed in the school work above reveal to me a young girl who has some very deep thoughts and expressed them, very well. Thoughts that were her dreams for the future.
Throughout high school and summer vacations she and this boys were always seen together. The fact that they lived next door to each other made it so simple for him to just walk next door where she would be sitting on the front porch steps and see if she wanted to go for a walk and find a nice quiet spot to sit and talk. Between his junior and senior year their community school was finally incorporated with the Fayetteville school system so they changed high schools. This further meant that bus service was furnished. Since he was already driving the community school bus the school administration saw to it that he was licensed to drive one of their buses. As it turned out it was not a bus she rode. She started participating in band and marching band which always practiced after school so after he finished his bus run he took his bus home where he was permitted to park it and drove his family car back to get her and bring her home. This permitted much more freedom to stop off at a local drive in for a burger and coke, go to the drive in movie, or just drive around. She loved this arrangement and of course there was the times to park on the hillside under the moon and "talk". In the spring of his senior year he tried out for the track team and made it doing well enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Arkansas. During her high school senior year and his college freshman year he continued to drive the high school bus and she her high school activities and him his track practice after school. She then added an occasional part time job and the routine of him picking her up from practice or work continued and by this time they were seldom seen apart.
During all these periods together invariably these talks would turn to the future and dreams they both had. His dream of becoming a career United States Air Force Office now was clear that he was in Air Force ROTC in college and she was in complete agreement. She shared his dreams of traveling to see wonderful places and these dreams seemed more possible now than ever before. In fact it seemed now that her dream was to be with him wherever he was and do things with him whatever they were. Their dreams had merged. Although never stated specifically it was just always understood that they would get married someday as they were not interested in anyone else. That day came November 1, 1952 when I started helping the dreams of this little girl become true when she became my wife. I am eternally grateful to her and to God for giving me the opportunity to help her dreams here on earth come true.
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