When I was about ten years old, my parents purchased a larger house about two miles away on Victor Drive. It wasn’t a large house by any stretch of the imagination, maybe twelve hundred square feet at the most. In my memory, it was a white cottage with green shutters. In addition to an extra bedroom, the house had a dining room which was paneled in warm knotty pine and had two built-in corner china cabinets. The sun filtered through the dining room windows and reflected against the pine, casting a warm glow on the large round antique dining table. That table was the scene for so many family meals and special times…(also the scene where Sharon and I would occasionally – well, okay, frequently – get sent from the table for uncontrollable giggling.)
I remember that we moved in the winter after my first semester of the fourth grade. Strange how certain pictures stick in your mind. Sixty years later and I can still remember Mama, my sisters, Sharon and I sitting in the sun coming in those dining room windows eating our lunch. The gas heat must not have been turned on yet because I remember we were cold. We must have been there to clean in preparation for moving or we had just moved in. The memories are fuzzy after all this time.
There was a large back yard with trees and plenty of room for Mama’s vegetable garden. Mama and Daddy planted apple, peach and pear trees for a small orchard as well. Mama was an incredible Southern cook, and with the bounty from those trees, she made the most delicious jams and preserves I have ever tasted to this day. Those pear preserves on one of her homemade biscuits was truly a legend.
Our move to a new home had meant changing neighborhoods, friends, schools and churches. Thankfully, this school was only .31 tenths of a mile (map quest again) and a much shorter walk to school. The fact that we moved half-way through the fourth grade made it especially difficult. As I recall, I wasn’t too happy at first, especially since the class was on a totally different subject in math – one I had not had. I had gone from being a straight A student, to having serious problems in math. One day, the teacher hit my hand very hard with a ruler because I didn’t know the answer to a math problem. Mama, who was barely five feet tall and very soft-spoken, had a few well-chosen, but totally appropriate, things to say to my teacher. After that, the teacher took a little extra time and patience, and my good grades returned. Honestly though, I never was fond of that particular teacher after that. Unfortunately, I had her again for two more subjects in junior high!