Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rich!

Riches come from all directions and in all times.  What made me feel rich in my youth was how many colored neckerchiefs I owned to dress my dolls in, and how many little glass horses and Black Stallion books I had. When Daddy gave me a real horse when I was nine, I felt like the richest girl in the world.  All of my dreams had come true.
In high school I felt rich because I had a BFF for the school year, Christa, and a BFF for the summer, Eileen.  I felt rich because I had a Public Library with what seemed like all the books in the world.  Those books made me feel truly rich because they could carry a poor little girl from Slab City N.Y. to all the places on earth, through whatever historical time I choose.  Some of my favorite books in that day were Pearl S. Buck novels. I think I read them all. China, that far off land, fascinated me.  I did however, also read Lady Chatterley's Lover, and Payton Place. I had a vociferous appetite to read and learn about everything
I was very slow in beginning to read.  Mr. Gant in fourth grade was the one who taught me to read.  My first real book was "Polly Kent Rides West".  I remember the title because it was such a momentous achievement for me and my family.  It was finally decided that, other evidence to the contrary, I wasn't a total dingbat and was in fact teachable. I guess that was a richness of another kind. 
I felt really rich when I graduated from high school and Daddy gave me a car. Granted it was a 1950 Chevy in 1961 and cost only $50.00, but I was in Hog heaven.  I drove it all summer, but of course it reverted back to Dad when I went to college in the fall of 1961.  In the beginning, the first two weeks, at Geneseo, I felt awesome.  I was living away from home, I loved the campus and my new roommate, and I felt the world was wide open. Unfortunately that didn't last.  I had carried myself along to college with me, and I had a very poor self image.  I felt poor, ugly and dumb and my grades and social activities reflected that. I pledged for 4 sororities but was chosen by none.  I didn't have the clothes or spending money the others had so I worked in the cafeteria on the breakfast shift.  I started skipping classes and drinking at the kegs.  My grades were lousy but I hung on the first semester.   I had only chosen my major, speech therapy, because it wasn't offered in any of the Potsdam area colleges.  So I found I hated the beginning speech classes, and the teachers who taught them.  I was crazy, boy crazy by this time, but no nice boys were interested.  I did hold to my standards, however, so was mainly dateless my first semester.  I had one interesting episode of potential date rape with a beefy young lad from the next town over.  When I told him my father was a Deputy Sheriff in Potsdam, and if anything happened to me my Dad would hunt him down and kill him; he promptly backed off.  I got out of the car and started to walk back to the dormitories, a distance of about 6 miles, but my date pulled up beside me and reluctantly said he would drive me back.  All the way back he sang a take off on the song "Your the Reason I don't sleep at night"  but substituted the word screw. Some things you never forget!
The second semester I discover a romantic interest in the drama club, a young man named Berry.  He looked a little ape like, long arms and very hairy, but he had a certain charisma and was one of the most popular upper class men at Geneseo.  I fell for him hard but he barely knew of my existence.  I volunteered for everything surrounding the theater group.  Stage painting, makeup, costumes, lighting, you name it.  All to just be around my hero.  My grades fell like an avalanche and I was flunked out my second semester.  I went home to tears and desperation on the part of my mother, and a certain grim acceptance from my father.  There was a rainbow and silver lining to all this, however.  I was able to finally embark on my richest and most cherished dream.  I left with my friend Christa, and her Mom, to New York City. 
My riches were just beginning.