Wednesday, April 5
Herington, Kansas, was a peaceful little town of tree-lined streets and stay-at-home mothers when I entered kindergarten in 1951. I loved school, but a terror named Steve took great delight in pulling chairs from under students as they were attempting to seat themselves. He would push their faces into the water at the drinking fountain. Steve was unbelievably creative in causing chaos in the classroom, not to mention the playground, where he would trip students and pick fights.
My grandfather walked to school with me for the first few days. Finally, my mother deemed me sufficiently responsible to make the three-block walk by myself.
I had walked independently to and from school for more than a month, when one beautiful fall day as I was walking home, Steve and Mike (another kindergarten classmate) tackled me with no provocation. I’m not certain about Mike’s motivation, but maybe it was because I had hit him pretty hard when he tried to kiss me.
After Mike had a good hold on me, Steve picked up rocks the size of eggs and began throwing them at me. He missed, but my mother came running up the hill from two blocks away. Steve didn’t even see her until she had a vise-like grip on his upper arm. From experience, I can attest to her grip strength, no doubt developed in her youth from milking cows on her parent’s farm. Mike escaped her fury, but Steve didn’t. After asking him to point out his house, she literally dragged him to the door.
Mother had taken the rocks as evidence and presented them to Steve’s mother, describing the scene she had just witnessed. Steve’s mother responded, and I kid you not, “Steve’s dad has always taught him to act like a man.” She considered Steve’s violent behavior as “acting like a man.” In not so very many shouted words, my mother attempted to educate Steve’s mother about “acting like a man.”
The mystery: As Mother was hanging laundry on the backyard clothesline, she had a premonition. Although I was not late, she was worried about me and ran two blocks to witness the incident. Was this divine intervention? I would like to believe so.
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