Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mumps And Rag Ties In My Hair

My horror of a school picture happened in second grade. I was in Mrs. Hendricks class and I had learned to love school by this time, especially our library days. All of us would line up and walk silently down the hall to the library.
Our class was at the beginning of the hallway and we had to walk all the way down this long corridor past the Principle's office, past the 5th grade Mrs Hendricks, and out of the doors to a covered walkway to the Library and the High School. It seemed like we marched a mile back then. We were all tiny and we had to be quiet, which amazingly we were able to do. It was my very favorite thing to do but soon we were going to do my very least favorite thing to do, the school picture.
I had given my parents the required paperwork to let them know when our photographs were going to be taken and I guess my Mother stayed home just for this occasion. She called me into the kitchen where I saw strips of a white stiff cotton fabric beside the sink. I did not know what she planned but I did not like the looks of it. I saw scissors, strips, another bit of cloth off to the side and my mind was saying, "what now?"
The experience of the chickens was fresh in my mind but we were not outside with the animals so I felt relatively safe on that quarter, but still I did not know what Mama had in mind. She told me to get up on a chair, the one I washed dishes standing on, and said, " hold still." I really wasn't moving much because I had an overactive imagination for 7 and I did not know what those strips were going to be used for.
I climbed up on the chair and sat down. Mama picked up one of the strips and turned on the water. Oh lordy, now what.. lol. She put the strip of cloth underneath the water and got it good and wet and then wrung it out a bit. Then she took a bit of my hair and started rolling it up with the strip of fabric. Over and over until she got it up tight against the head and then she tied a knot in the fabric to hold it in place. She did that over and over til my head looked lik an old rag mattress and then she tied that big piece of cloth on my head like a handerchief to hold the water in tight, I guess or to keep me from pulling those awful things out.
She sent me to bed to sleep. I still remember that night, trying desperately to find a comfortable spot on my head to sleep. But I had those knots all over. I tried to pull enough of them to one side to have a place to lay my head but she had done a good job of tying my hair up so there was not much rest that night.
I have neglected to mention that I had mumps too, both sides swollen out so that it was noticeable, but Mama was not going to let me stay home and miss my picture. In the morning, she took down my hair which was curled and frizzed in all direction and tried to spritz it into behaving to go to school. She finally got it in manageable curls and put me in my dress for the day. I remember begging her to let me stay home. I was so sick but she was going to have her school picture or else. As Earline mentioned pictures were a rare commodity and she was going to have one of me that day.
I got on the bus with a raging fever and sickly looking eyes and went to school. I tried to smile when the photograher pointed the camera at me but I could only manage a sickly grimace. Mama got her picture that day and I went to school looking like a curly mess.
Years later I got the picture from the old black purse and I almost tore it completly up but I restrained and I still have it today. The one I am sharing today is a copy of the original which has two chunks torn out of it where I was going to end this memory, but refrained.
Today, I am glad that I have the photo and the reminder and my perspective has changed. Mama was trying to make me pretty and what she thought was pretty, was curly hair and mine was straight as a board.
This was not the last time that Mama tried to make my hair curly and when I was 9, I had to revisit these awful feelings again in the form of a having my beautiful long hair cut short and permed. I never quite got over that one either and the memory of that one stays in my book. I forgave Mama and Daddy for all that for, that is the beauty of time , the ability to forgive big things and let God take care of it.
Gloria Peacock Kimmel 10/28/2015

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