Two Little Girls – An Essay

TWO LITTLE GIRLS – Another Essay

By Donna Jean McDunn Author

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Mine was great. All three of our daughters and their families came, so it was a busy four-day weekend. Our oldest grandson celebrated his 13th birthday on November 7th. (That gives us three teenage grandkids with five more to go.) He lives to far away so we weren’t able to celebrate with him on that day and while they were visiting, he enjoyed another birthday party with us.

We also attended a party for my husband’s brother’s 70th birthday and a surprise birthday party our son-in-law planned for our youngest daughter. By the time the weekend ended, I needed another four days to recuperate.

I’m sorry I haven’t posted since November. I’ve been busy editing my novel Nightmares. As soon as all the editing is done, I will share an excerpt of the story here. I just finished working with the content editor who suggested I consider turning the book into a series based on the characters in the book, so I have begun a new story I have tentatively named Visions. I’m still waiting to hear from the line editor and get her opinion of the idea.

I’m also working on another story I began for a writing course a few months ago. The course has ended, but the writing goes on and I really want to finish it. It is tentatively named The Rose Stalker. It is geared to a much older reader than my Nightmares books and is a romance/mystery about a stalker who leaves roses.

Now I would like to share with you an essay I wrote in 2008. It’s not very long, just under 650 words. It’s about something that happened in my childhood that has always bothered me. It still does whenever I think about it and that year, I thought about it a lot, just as I have during this one. Some of the words I used for descriptions may not be politically correct today and I don’t wish to offend anyone, but in the 1950’s these terms were accurate. It’s called:


I grew up in a small town in Iowa during the 1950’s. During those early years of my life, I remember seeing only two people of African American decent at my school. It happened when I was in the third grade.

The teacher had just let us outside for recess. It was early spring and I had on my blue winter coat I’d gotten for Christmas. The day had turned out so sunny and warm; I felt I no longer needed it. So, like several other kids, I took my coat off and threw it on top of a pile of coats already lying on the ground.

My friends and I ran to the jungle gym to play. When I happened to look in the direction of my coat, I saw two African American girls. I naturally assumed they were sisters and the older one was holding my blue coat.

“Hey, this can’t be mine,” I heard the girl say to the younger one as she slipped it on. She held her arms out in front of her. “Look, it’s to small.”

Concerned I was about to lose my coat to a stranger, I jumped off the jungle gym and ran to her. “I think that’s my coat.”

Looking down at the pile still on the ground, I could see the arm of a blue coat just like mine. I pulled it out and slipped it on. The sleeves hung down past my fingertips. “Maybe this one is yours.”

We exchanged coats, giggling about the mix up, until her younger sister poked her in the ribs. “Come on. We’re going to get into trouble.”

“Thanks,” the older one said to me and the two girls ran toward the school.

I wanted to talk to them and find out if they were sisters, where they came from and why I hadn’t I seen them before. I didn’t even know their names. Why did they leave in such a hurry?

I watched as they ran to a door, the rest of us weren’t supposed to use, but before going inside, the older girl turned and smiled in my direction.

I wondered where they were going. Recess had just started.

I rejoined my friends on the jungle gym. “Who are those girls,” I asked my friend, Mary. “I’ve never seen them before.”

“I don’t know their names,” she said. “I heard they go to school upstairs.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Upstairs? Why?”

She stared at me like I must be really dumb. “Because they’re Negro.”

I was eight years old at the time, but even I could see sending those two girls upstairs was wrong.  I knew about prejudice and the riots happening in other parts of the country. I just never expected to see it in my town.

Several years ago, the upstairs in the school had been condemned and considered unsafe for anyone. I had heard rumors that there were bats up there, too. If it was unsafe for us, how could anyone make two little girls use it as a classroom? Did they even have a teacher?

I never saw either of the girls after that day, not in the hallways or during recess or even after school. I asked about them everyday for a long time, but no one seemed to know if they moved away or what happened to them.

I’d like to think situations like that don’t happen in this country today, but I know I’d only be deceiving myself. Even so I still have hope for us and I pray the girls are still alive and well and see how things have changed. It only took forty-nine years! The sad part is we have only just begun to make real progress.

As always, I would love to hear your opinions and thoughts, so please leave a comment.

My short story Trapped, included in the anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012 will be released, according to the Amazon site, on December 7, 2012. The book went to press November 29th. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. The publisher, Buddhapuss Ink is located in New Jersey and there was a delay thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

My young adult paranormal/mystery will be released in May 2013, but can be viewed on MuseItUp Publishing’s website: Nightmares

Other places I can be found:

Facebook Author Page 
Facebook Profile Page 

MusePub_Readers : MuseItUp Publishing Readers Group

I’m also on Twitter.

Other Places to view my short stories:

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

A Reason To Live

Saving Katie

Pack Leader

The Golden Stallion

Gus’ Big Adventure



5 responses to “Two Little Girls – An Essay

  1. It sounds like November was a very busy month for you!

    I loved your story – how sad that this happened to these two little girls and I wonder why you saw them that day and never again 😦 I wonder what happened to them. This is very haunting…

    • Welcome Dianne, yes November was very busy. I’m glad you liked the story and you’re right, it is very haunting. I’ve thought about them often. I wish someone could have answered my questions back then, but none of my friends could. I should have asked a teacher, but I was way to shy and they probably wouldn’t have answered me anyway. Like I said in the essay, I like to think they are alive today and their lives have changed for the better. I also wish I could have known their names.

  2. Hi Donna,

    Segregation also existed in my school. I grew up in the 50’s too and in south TX. They had a separate school for the black kids on the other side of town. In fact all the colored people lived on the other side of the railroad tracks and had to be back over there by sundown.

    The first time the Negroes were allowed in the white schools, I was a senior in high school. A couple of them came to our school, but most stayed at the black school. I imagine it was very uncomfortable for the ones who ventured out into white society. they still hung out together and didn’t talk much to white folks and vice versa.

    Of course I could never understand why they were all separated from the rest of us in the first place, but that’s just how things were back in the 1950’s, especially in the south. Many people still looked at them as slaves because previous generations of households down there did have slaves. That kind of mentality was passed down to future generations.

    My brothers and sisters were brought up with an open mind and I don’t think any of us prejudiced today. Things have changed since then, but I’m sure there are still parts of town where they congregate in their own little communities but for the most part they are integrated into society as the whole world has become more tolerant of other races. However, I’m sure some discrimination still goes on and may always go on. Maybe it will be less that way once the older people die off.


    • Hi Sunni, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and you are right, prejudice is something that get’s passed down to the next generation and may never completely stop. But I do think it happens less now because kids are taught to think for themselves.

      I can understand why it took longer for things to calm down in the south, but not here in Iowa. The first black person I ever saw was a man who used to stop by in the summer to buy iron from my dad. They would talk outside for a long time after they finished with business. I don’t know where he lived for sure, but I think he lived in Council Bluffs or across the river in Omaha Nebraska, thirty miles away. There weren’t any black people living in our small town until much later. When I was in high school in the 1960’s, we had an exchange student and he was black. He was a very nice kid and everyone liked him. I don’t know if he felt out of place being the only one, but now there are several families living in town and their kids attend school where they are supposed too.

      It’s just that those two little girls have always bothered me and I wish I could have made things turn out different and writing about them is my way of speaking out about fairness for all.

  3. such things should not happen anywhere, but in most of the countries it still happens under one pretext or other- its a very very disgraceful thing to humanity.

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