I have noticed that the word “snuck” has become quite acceptable to use these days, both in speaking and writing. It wasn’t acceptable when I was in 4th grade and wrote my first story, however. Sister Cecelia asked for volunteers to read their homework stories for the class, and as shy as I was, I raised my hand, and was chosen to read. I spoke with as loud a voice as I could muster, and amazingly, the story was well received by the class! I glanced up from my reading to find Sister Cecelia looking at me with her piercing “are you trying to put something over on me?” gaze.
“Did you write that by yourself, Teresa?”
“I guess I have to believe you. I don’t think an adult would have used “snuck” in a sentence. “Snuck” isn’t a word, you know. You may sit down.”
I sat down, emotions whipping through me. My classmates had obviously liked the story, but I had managed to do something wrong by not knowing that “snuck” was not a word. Emotionally I was a mess as I sat at my desk, but intellectually I was determined never to use the non-word “snuck” ever again. So it is with some chagrin that I have seen that very word used rather frequently as of late.
Which makes me think, where is Sister Cecelia when you need her?
As a first grader at St John’s Elementary School, I remember clearly how impressed I was by the speed and sound of hundreds of kids as they came thundering down the stairs at the end of the day. The metal edging on the steps clanged as students’ shoes met the stairs, drowning out Sr. Mary Davidica’s warning of “NO Running!” Scores of bodies whizzed by me in a blur, and before you could say “saddle shoes”, the school was empty and quiet.
It was my older sister Margie I was waiting for outside my first grade classroom; she was going to pick me up and walk home with me. Our school didn’t have buses to transport kids – we all had to walk, whether our homes were near or far; ours was far. There were 10 city blocks between home and St John’s, with a very large intersection across a busy highway at about the halfway point. At 5 years old I had not yet been granted permission to cross 4 lanes of busy city traffic, even with a light, by myself. Margie, at 7 years old, was my guide and protector, at least at the beginning of the first grade year.
Margie was my hero all of my life in Seattle. She had red hair and freckles, was very smart, could play the piano and sang beautifully. We shared a bedroom, a small doll collection, and short tempers. As sisters we fought constantly, and drove my Mom crazy. But as friends, we were shirt-and-pants, doing virtually everything together until Margie left St John’s for highschool.
Still, there were plenty of years before she went on to highschool for sibling rivalry to reign supreme. But that is another blog post.
Plinky’s question for the day was, ” What broken relationship do you wish you could restore?”. This made me think of friendships from childhood days. I have not, since I moved from Seattle in August of 1970, had any contact with friends from school. The person I wish I could meet again is one who went with me through Catholic elementary years at St John’s in the Greenwood neighborhood in Seattle – grades 1 through 8, and Catholic highschool, Holy Angels in the Ballard neighborhood – grades 9 through 12. Her name is Mary Elizabeth Johnson, born June 2nd, 1952, oldest daughter to Florence and Edwin Johnson, older sister to Ellen.
It’s been a long, long time since I have seen Mary; May of 1970, to be exact, the month and year of our highschool graduation. Our long relationship was broken then, by time and distance and growing up. Broken by choices which seemed noble at the time. Broken because that’s what happens when people finish school, move away from home and get a life.
Mary and I had been friends since second grade, and we did all the goofy things kids do growing up, including writing our names, in crayon, on the wall in my bedroom. We knew we would get in trouble if they were found, but no one did find them until I was a junior in highschool and Mom said I could paint my bedroom if I would pull the wallpaper down. I cut our signatures out of the wallpaper that I removed, and kept them in a book for many years.
In highschool Mary christened herself “Nag” because I insisted on shortening her name to “Mare”. She also thought that if she signed the notes she sent me in class with her pseudonym, no one would guess she was the author – how funny! Who else would be writing me a note??? No one!
Mary, I wonder where you are. I have looked for you on facebook, but the name Mary Elizabeth Johnson is extremely common, and not one of the scores of profiles that I have read has been a match to yours – to ours. I am not one who looks wistfully at the past, full of regrets and ‘do-over’ desires, but in this one area of my life, in this particular relationship, I wish that I had not been so determined to leave my past behind and strike out into a completely new world. I wish I could have had the wisdom that my younger sister, Claudia, has. She has remains in contact with several of her elementary school chums to this day.
Maybe you have heard this song by Kristin Andresssen? http://youtu.be/EELEjeYzfjM You come to mind whenever I hear it.
I hope we meet again some day, Mare. I would provide the crayons, and we could sign our names on the wall in my bedroom one more time.