As a child my birthday always felt more like a curse instead of something to look forward to each year. Other than my mother, how could anyone be excited by the hallmark of that day? Public schools always went back in session the day after Labor Day. That meant many times the first day of school fell on my birthday, September 5th. My very first day of school when I entered kindergarten at Vine Street Elementary School was much more memorable than any of the others because of the events that unfolded. My birthday had been the day before, so this special day as I began my educational journey remains etched in infamy as being showcased by the fancy footwork of an awkward 5 year old klutz.
My next older brother is 4 years older than I am. He had been
delegated the responsibility to walk me to and from school until I got old
enough to either walk by myself or in a group with my friends. Since we
went to the same school, it shouldn't have been that big of a deal to him, but
anything involving siblings has a funny way of becoming complicated and
drama-filled. His biggest issue was having to deal with the
shame of walking his kid sister to school. Oh, the horrible things
our families cast upon us, but like I always say, "what doesn't kill us,
only makes us stronger". I'm sure my brother is a much
better person today for having had to deal with all the responsibilities
of being an older brother to a pain in the ass like me.
We both were decked out in our fine new first day of school apparel
as we left home that day. The journey up Walter Street seemed
like such an arduous trek for a five year old child. The route
contained two hills, Little Walter and Big Walter, crossing a sometimes busy Third
Street and navigating Vine Street to arrive safely at school. As
we walked down Little Walter, I discovered many other children doing
exactly the same thing we were doing. All the older brothers and sisters
were walking just ahead of their younger siblings prompting them to
stop being so slow.
As I walked I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing or where I was
going. Before my brother noticed and could redirect my focus, I fell face first into a
rather large pothole in the sidewalk. It all happened so fast that I
didn't even have time to put my hands out to help break my fall. BAM! My nose
and forehead took the full impact of my fall. As my brother helped me up and
took me home, he bitched at me the whole way there. I had blood and tears running
down my face, but to hear him tell it, you would have thought I had planned
the whole thing out just to embarrass him and to make him late for
school. Contrary to popular belief, I may have always had a devious
streak in me, but not that devious!
Our family doctor, Dr. Dearborn looked me all over and patched me up.
My nose wasn't broken, but I had two black eyes and my forehead had
been split open. My face was a mess for awhile and that was no way
for a shy, little girl to start school, but I developed a great poker
face at a young age so no one knew just how deeply that fall had hurt me. I
like to say I learned to watch where I was walking, but that skill was developed at a much older age. The only real lasting effect
from my fall was the daily ridicule I endured from my brother as we walked to
school. I was so glad when the city finally patched that hole and my
brother stopped tormenting me. We laugh about it now, but I often
wondered if any of my brothers ever realized how inferior to them
I grew up feeling.