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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Charlie as a small boy was so bashful he would hide behind his mother’s skirt when company came.

His two sisters who were one and two years older than him and were almost as bad as he, but since they had out grown the skirt of their mom they would run and hide in the woods out behind the house.

In those days the roads were rough and the cars rattled loudly to give out a warning when some was coming.  The girls would watch from behind the big old cedar tree to see who it was. The dogs kept company at bay until someone from inside the house called them off so by the time they were let in the house they had a good look at them to decide if they were someone they wanted to see.

Ma didn’t care if the girls hid out cause they were usually dirty from walking barefoot in the dust that swirled up as they passed through it. 

To say ma didn’t care wasn’t exactly true. When the social worker came she wanted to see all the kids and since ma got paid by the head she had to round them up.  The lady would give each a quick checkup to see if we had T.B. or lice.  If anyone had lice it usually meant everyone did.

Charlie wondered why the lady would look down the shirt of the girls cause there wasn’t anything to see or at least he never saw anything when they were taking a bath.

Another thing that made him wonder was she never looked down ma’s dress after checking her head.  The social worker carried several cases of Blue Ointment and nit combs. They used nit combs whether they had lice or not until people started to make fun of anyone who carried one. Then it became one of the as needed items.

The blue ointment was very effective for killing lice except that long term use gave you mercury poisoning.

This particular time my uncle, (Uncle was what ma said to call them) came out with a robe almost on and said hello to the social worker. The lady quickly turned away for he was unclad and unpleasant to look at.

Ma quickly shoved him back into the bedroom and went in and gave him a talking to. The lady asked Charlie who that was.  He said, “That’s one of my uncles.”

“Do you have many uncles?”

“Yes I have more than anyone, a new one most every night.”

Ma came back and asked, “Are we clean, no lice?”

The worker said, ‘Yes, everyone is clean. I will see you in a month or so.”

As soon as the woman was out of sight ma sent my new uncle down the road and said don’t come back here no mo.

Charlie had to go to school for the first time this year. He missed last year for he was sick. His sisters helped him learn his letters and numbers. He was fascinated with them.

You could put two of the same ones together and they would become another number and take one away and again you would have a different one. He spent a lot of his time making new numbers and then changing them. For him it was almost like magic.

Then they taught him the alphabet. When he discovered what you could do with the letters he was amazed, you could line them up and spell your name. While he was a year behind he was anxious to start school the next year.

Halfway through the semester the teacher moved him up to the second grade for he understood all the subjects. Charlie was still shy and wouldn’t have anything to do with the other kids and they left him alone.

Once in a while one of his classmates would ask him how to solve a class problem and he would show them and then withdraw again. He especially avoided contact with girls as much as possible.  He wouldn’t answer them if they asked him something which wasn’t very often.

The more his sisters got on him about it the worse he got. One of his sisters, Bess heard someone call Charlie an introvert and she asked the teacher what an introvert was and she asked where she heard that word.

Bess said she heard two teachers talking and they said Charlie was the perfect example of an Introvert. When Bess told Charlie he was an introvert he began to cry and said; “I am not.”

Later he asked what an introvert was and Bess told him, “I don’t know for sure but I don’t think it is good.”

Charlie said, “Do you think it is a disease of some kind?”

Bess said, “I don’t know but it probably is.”

There was a big dictionary one of the uncles had forgotten and Charlie decided to look the word up with the help of Lucy the oldest of his sisters. They found the word and it said, “Opposite of extrovert.”

Charlie said, “I don’t know what an extrovert is but I ain’t that.”

Lucy said, “Don’t let it worry you as will outgrow it as you get older, you know like baby teeth.”

Charlie said, “Yeah, you’re probably right but to make sure the next time the social worker comes I will ask her for she knows about everything.”

One of the uncles came back a second and third time which was unusual. Their ma said, “We’re going to get married. Not legal like but just with the parson saying words we agree to. Don’t tell the social worker you have a new dad or she will have to stop our dole.

After the wedding Mr Jones moved into Ma’s bedroom and slept there. He was a nice man and didn’t drink whiskey or anything.

Shortly after marrying Ma he got a job and brought in much needed money. It was new and different to have a couple of pennies to spend on candy each payday. He took the family to the picture show to see the cowboys “shoot em up” movies each week which was fun.

It was like we had become rich all the sudden. One week he told Ma to buy the girls a new dress and some shoes. After that they started calling him Papa and that pleased him to no end. Charlie didn’t want to call him papa so he called him what his friends called him, Jonesy.  Now Jonesy liked to fish and he started taking Charlie with him and sometimes he went with him to sit around the stove at the general store and listen to the men talk about things Charlie never heard of.

This was pretty much the way things went over the next three or four years. Hanging around with Jonesy and his friends Charlie began to talk some. He would ask the men a question about what they were talking about and learned quite a bit.

After some time Charlie became comfortable conversing with the men folks but the only women he would talk to was his sisters, his ma, Aunt Jane and the teacher in a limited way.

By the time Charlie was in the seventh grade he still was handicapped by lack of communication skills due mainly to being in mixed crowds. There was something about females that caused him to clam up.

His teachers decided to take his problem head on and try to cure him of this foolishness. They first talked to his sisters and got a lot of information.

What stood out was his lack of social skills such as knowing how to dance and flirt. They enlisted his sisters to help in that area for they were among the most popular girls in school.

Then he was enrolled in a speech writing class. Following that it was memorizing famous speeches and giving them to an assembly at school. After a bit he did well in this controlled atmosphere.

Finally he was out on a debating team and this was where he began to have trouble. Having his thoughts challenged was almost overwhelming. There was a girl on the debate team that took interest in him and began to challenge everything he said.

This went on until one day he became angry and came out of his shell and the two of them went at it. At the end he not only held his own but some said he bested her.

This was something he had never done and he felt a little foolish doing it. Afterward he and this girl, Misty had a talk about how the debate went and how it could have been improved. She told him he could become a good debater if he tried.

From then on he paid more attention to what was going on in the debates his team were in and tried to analyze where they were losing.

By the end of the term he and Misty were quite friendly. But then the real test came. There was a dance coming up and Misty let him know she would be there and expected him to be there also.

Charlie was in a state of frustration. He wanted to go to the dance and yet he didn’t. His sisters had taught him all the dance steps and they said he could dance very well but there was this feeling he was going to make a fool out of himself.

These kind of thoughts went on until the night of the dance.

His sisters laid out his best duds and said get dressed or we will dress you. He finally got ready and made it to the doings.  Since it wasn’t a date night most everyone came by themselves.  He saw Misty talking to some guys but when she saw Charlie she came over and said, “Are you ready to show what you got?”

That just about sent him home for he wasn’t ready for that kind of talk. She grabbed his hand and said, “Let’s dance.”

After the first couple of steps he was dancing just like his sisters taught him. After the third dance he decided to try some of the fancy steps he had been taught and they went off just fine. The rest of the evening went well.

Several other girls asked him to dance and that felt pretty good to him it was just like he had blended in and he wasn’t hiding behind ma’s skirt anymore.

He walked Misty home and said he enjoyed being with her. He said, “I know this wasn’t a real date but maybe if you want we could go on a date to the movies.”

She said, “That would be alright, you call me and we will go.”

Charley was feeling pretty good walking home, he thought to himself, “I was going on my first date but there was one other thing that bothers me and that was; I never have kissed a girl before and I felt I needed to know how before I did.

This was troublesome and Charley wasn’t sure what to do.

His thoughts continued, “Now my sisters taught me how to dance, so maybe - - -.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us here at Tell me a Story.


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