A Not So Quite Recess
When I was growing up, my father was in the military, the United States Army to be exact, and every few years we would be transferred to a new location; to one of the many military bases in America at the time. This particular transfer landed us in Petoskey, Michigan; where I met my friend Gretchen and learned the honor of making a friend. I was a loner, a reader and I despised school, but to my surprise Gretchen was just like me; we needed each other and during our time in Petoskey, I learned to value a companion and a friendship.
On this particular day everything started out as usual; I walked the five blocks to school; loitering on the playground, while waiting for the bell to ring that would announce the beginning of my day. As usual school was boring and today was no different, at least, until the bell rang for the first recess! I rushed out of the classroom, then skidded to a sudden halt, when I observed the kids from school lining up in four rows on the playground. Oh no! I thought; I had forgotten it was shot day! One of those days required by the school system to fight an early flu-epidemic during Nineteen Sixty Two and I was very unsettled; the military is un-yielding about shot records being 'up-to-date'. I knew my shot record was 'up-to-date', because we had just been transferred to Petoskey and it was a requirement at the beginning of a new school year.
Needless to say, I got in line and after a few moments I felt a tap on my shoulder; I turn around and observe a small girl crying her eyes out. I frown...
I ask, what's wrong? The girl says; I'm afraid! I frown again, telling her there's nothing scary here! Just follow and watch me! By the way...What's your name?...I ask. Etchen...she says. What?...I say. My name is Etchen...she repeats. I don't understand what you are trying to say!...I state.
As the line moved closer to the nurse, I realized she had said her name was "Gretchen". I turned around again and patted her arm... Don't worry...I say, I'll be there too! Once my turn was finished; I asked the nurse if I could hold Gretchen's hand; the nurse nodded because she noticed Gretchen crying and probably figured it would be easier to let me stay, rather than try to convince Gretchen it wouldn't hurt.
After we were both finished with our shots, we went to the swings and just started chatting about our families and how much we hated school, realizing we both had a lot in common. I found out Gretchen lived on the same block and today is her third day of school. Her father is military and they also were recently transferred too! I thought that was pretty ironic; of all the students out on the playground, Gretchen lived near me and also walked to school too! I thought to myself...How had I never run into her before? Now, I had someone to walk to school with and talk to, too! After a while, Gretchen stated, she had to use the bathroom and took off inside, while I stayed, swinging until the first bell rang.
The first bell rang so I headed to the back of the playground where the doors were; as I was walking along the side of the building I noticed the outside lamps were huge; four feet long; scroll work on both sides the color of black gun metal and are attached to the side of the building, hanging down into a sharp edged wedge. My mind was in the clouds, thinking about my new friend Gretchen and how happy I was. Being serious for a second; I asked myself...will my head fit under those lamps?...just as someone shoved me from behind...my head hit the wedge! I was so surprised and stunned, that I just stood there shaking my head to dispel the...