Some residents of small Southern town can be so cruel
Last week I was talking to a friend who has two young daughters. She told me about a poorly attended birthday party one of her girls had been invited to. It reminded me of another birthday party when I was in third grade.
Living in a small southern town we did not have many new families, so anyone was met with a great deal of nosy interest and not open arms. That year a new girl, named Victoria entered our class. She went by the name Vicki and had the distinction of being the tallest in the class as well as possessing a sturdy build. Stand by Vicki and the bad boys didn’t dare pull your pigtails or untie the sash on your dress. I was delighted Vicki was in my Red Bird reading group.
My bestest friend in the whole wide world was in the Blue Bird group, which of course was the best. She and my sister all through school were members of the Blue Bird group The name changed with each grade, but we all knew, it was still The Blue Birds. I kind of felt sorry for them because they never knew the thrill of being sent up to the top group and relief to be sent back to the Red Birds.
In early November Vicki brought invitations for the whole class to her birthday party, and handed them out. Small southern towns had some very firm rules. There were acceptable streets to live on, and then there was across the railroad tracks. On the other side there were three nice brick homes. It really didn’t matter how nice they were, they were definitely in the wrong place.
In the first brick house lived a couple with grown children. In the second house was a couple from England with two daughters. They were forgiven for living where they did. If they couldn’t figure out which side of the road to drive on, how could they be expected to know which side of the tracks to live? The third house was Vicki’s.
I couldn’t wait to get home, and share the invitation with my family. They had heard about Vicki every night at supper. I must admit I would get a little carried away with my stories. I think they knew she didn’t have a magic cape and could fly, but they had to admit she had been a good influence on me. Since Vicki came into my life I had only gone to the principal’s office two or three times a week, instead of my usual five.
The day of the party arrived and mother picked up my bestest friend in the whole wide world, and we headed for Vicki’s. Jane, another classmate, was already there, so we three guests sat down in the living room and time passed ever so slowly. It was finally suggested, we go and see Vicki’s bedroom, so off we trooped to her room. Vicki’s father was in the Navy and they had traveled everywhere. She had dolls from all sorts of foreign places, even California. We trooped back to the living room and sat. Vicki’s mother suggested we play a game. To my delight, she was almost as much fun as my mother at a party. We had a wonderful time. Then we were invited to the dining room. The table could barely hold all the food. They had clearly been expecting a whole class, not just three girls.
Miss Norway, our beloved third grade teacher, my mother, my bestest friend in the whole wide world’s mother and Jane’s mother arrived in time for the cake,and this became the perfect party, I thought. But, I don’t think Vicki’s parents agreed with me. They moved away from our town during the Christmas holidays.
I hope all of Vicki’s birthdays have been joyous, and I hope that from time to time she remembered a Red Bird friend who made her laugh. For me, I started my daily visits to the principal, and put up with the bad boys pulling my pigtails and yanking the sash on my dress.
Brenda Loyd Allred grew up in Summerville when it was a very small town. She now lives at Franke at Seaside with her husband Les.