By Otis Griffin
When I attended Rosemark grammar school, I walked the black topped quarter of a mile. Initially Momma made me congregate with neighbors June and Ann Leek who resided three houses up the road so the older gals could protect me. Maybe she was fearful ghost Casper would swoon out of the overgrown Johnson grass ditch frightening me. Funny though, during the summer, Arvis, Lynn and I went everywhere without bodyguards, but school time required utmost surveillance.
Beloved, I didn’t need help as I had my trusty, forked slingshot neatly hidden in my shoulder strapped book satchel. (If Mrs. Ricks saw it she’d snatch my treasure and keep it until the school bell rang) Then she’d return it and make me tell my upset Momma.
My pecan, hand crafted weapon came in handy as several times I had to protect my self from enemy red stop signs just waiting to pounce on me. Accuracy was required for old Campbell pork and bean cans in the muddy ditch fixing to attack me and often a mail box was silently lying very still just waiting to catch me off guard and flog me.
Finally old enough, I straddled my prized two-wheeler, with the book satchel flopping on high handle bars and smoked ’em casings, flying low for some book learning. Thurman Tim said recess was the best class and he never did understand why we couldn’t stay outside all the time and have more fun. All of us agreed, except the mean teachers.
Being on time was never a problem when attending Rosemark grammar but when I was promoted to Bolton High ninth grade, the ship hit the sand. A brand new ball game with different rules. The sages at Mr. Ben’s store told us all summer about what happens to ‘fresh meat’ way over yonder on the other side of the new world we soon will enter.
I remember a few, deeply etched in my cranium. If Mr. Charlie, the bus driver, got mad he would stop the bus and chunk you off to hoof it home all by yo’ lonesome self. Continuing, the big ole mean boys would beat on you the entire journey. Rubbing salt in the open wound, the older occupants would tease, taunt and make us sit in the back row of the rickety, bouncy cargo hauler and us freshmen weren’t allowed to open our yapper.
Friends, can you still remember your first big, yellow school bus ride? It was a two edged sword as you welcomed the new grown up adventures you had anticipated practically all summer? However, fearful of the consequences of exiting childhood to entering the young adult world.
All of us admitted years later, we were excited, proud, confident, got the big head, but actually ‘skeeered’ to death. I sho’ was. I was shaking like a wet hound coming out of the pond thrashing around slinging muddy water.
All the kids waiting to board the bus headed to Bolton high congregated at Thompson Brothers store smack dab in the middle of downtown Rosemark. This emporium was located many decades ago where the new brick Brighton bank flourishes now. My first day we freshmen were inside the store sheepishly stepping lightly like a herd of hogs headed to slaughter at Dixie National stockyards.
Neighbor, the grownups were leaning on the counters laughing, wringing their hands, pouring it on and howling about how bad the upcoming trip was gonna’ be. If someone had walked up and gouged me from behind, I’d squalled and jumped sky high like a red necked goose shot with hot grease. I want to go home to my Momma. But I can’t and the worse is yet to come…Glory!