Tag Archives: 1950’s

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:

TWO LITTLE GIRLS

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 
LinkedIn

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

 

 

The Good Old Days

That’s me holding the chicken and my brother Jerry sitting beside me. Notice the pump behind me. We didn’t have running water in our house. The pump is where we got our water.

The Good Old Days

By Author Donna Jean McDunn

I grew up in Iowa during the 1950’s and 60’s. Things were simpler. We didn’t own a TV until I was seven and no one had ever heard of a personal computer or a cell phone. Those were things of fiction back then.

We spent a lot of time outside playing. My older brother, Jerry always wanted to play cowboys or army and of course I was always on the losing side. I didn’t mind. I admit I was a tomboy growing up. I played with worms, snakes, frogs, and toads, climbed trees and jumped off of buildings.

We used his toy trucks to build roads in the dirt around our mom’s flowers and when we tired of that, we’d go find some crawdads for fishing in the crawdad hole. (The crawdad hole is gone now. There’s a McDonalds sitting where it used to be.)

Our older sister, Joyce was always taking pictures of us. I hardly ever posed for a picture without some kind of animal or my baby brother, Mike or one of my nephews, Danny and Tommy with me.

Me and my baby brother Michael

We’d stay outside until dark and then catch lightening bugs (some people call them fireflies). We would put them in jars so we could turn the lights off and watch them blink off and on.

Whatever my big brother, Jerry and the neighbor boys did, I followed, but because he was three years older than me, he got to do things I couldn’t; like ride his bike to the park three blocks away. Oh, I had my tricycle, but I wasn’t allowed to go that far on it.

That’s me, I’m the girl in the picture. Jerry is getting on his bike to ride to school and the other two boys were neighbors. It was the first day of school and I was so wanting to ride my bike to school, but all I had was a tricycle that was too small for me. I was SO jealous!

I wanted a real two-wheeled bike.

When he wasn’t riding his bike, sometimes I would lean it against something so I could get on it and sit on the seat, but my legs weren’t long enough to reach the pedals and push them all the way down to make it move.

Sometimes Jerry would push the bike while I sat on it. But he grew tired of that pretty fast, so then I’d push the bike myself and stand on the pedal and coast  like it was a giant scooter.

But the best times were when he’d give me a ride around the block. I’d sit sidesaddle on the bar, being careful to keep my feet from touching the spokes in the front tire and we’d sail down the road with the wind in our hair.

The first summer I discovered I could push the bike and coast along on it, I couldn’t reach the pedals while sitting on the seat. By the following year, I had grown enough that I could push the pedal down, but my toes didn’t quite reach the lowest point and the ground was still a long way from the bottom of my foot.

If you’ve ever seen one of those old boy’s bikes, then you know size matters when it comes to touching the ground with the bar in the middle, especially when you want to get off.

One day Jerry found me with his bike,  coasting along as I stood on the pedal. He watched me for a minute and I was waiting for him to tell me to get off it, but instead he said, “I bet you could ride that thing if someone helped you. I’ll hold it, you get on.”

As soon as I was seated, he started pushing. He ran along the side and then he gave it a huge shove and yelled, ”Pedal.” So I did, but actually pedaling and sitting on the bike were way different and since my legs weren’t quite long enough yet to reach the pedal with my entire foot as it dropped toward the ground, I had to catch it as it came back up and then push the pedal down again.

But I rode that bike all the way to the end of the block. I wasn’t allowed to go past the corner by myself and that’s when I realized I didn’t know how to turn around and I couldn’t push the pedal back far enough for the brake to stop the bike, so I stopped pedaling.

Jerry yelled, “Turn the handlebars into the grass.”

I could hear him running toward me and did what he said, but the bike had slowed so much, it wasn’t going to make it to the grass and I didn’t think he’d get there in time to keep the bike and me from ending up in the gravel.

I was right. I think every exposed piece of skin was torn off, but did that keep me from riding whenever I could get someone to give me a shove?

No Way!

A year later and I was finally able to ride the bike with no help and the year after that, I got my own two wheeled (girl’s) bike.

How about you? What’s some of your fondest memories of growing up?

As always, I love comments and appreciate your opinions or questions. If you leave your blog or website address, I’ll visit, comment and follow. If you’d rather be found on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, I will like, be friends, follow, or Tweet.

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It’s been said that writing is a lonely business and that’s true, but if we writers and readers continue to support one another, then we are no longer alone.