July 29, 1964
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Can you believe it’s almost August? We go back to school in August. Groan. We used to wait until after Labor Day, but then it snowed quite a bit one winter and we were still going to school in June. The powers that be decided it would be better to go to school the hottest time of the year, the end of August, instead of the maybe not so bad first of June. June can be a sweet month without the kind of humidity that melts down even beauty queen Vanessa’s curls. Vanessa has been known to call her mother and pretend she’s sick to keep from being at school with her hair less than perfect.
Not that the boys care the least bit about one of her blonde hairs maybe being out of place. The boys, and I mean ALL, the boys at school run into the lockers after they land their eyes on her. I haven’t figured out what’s all that pretty about her, especially with wild curls springing out around her face and that frown on her face at any boy except the captain of the football team.
But I’m not reporting on Vanessa. You’d be bored silly. I’m hoping almost August isn’t too early to dream about Christmas. Do you see that bike in the Sears catalog? Wow! I could go places if I had a bike like that. (I’m sure Vanessa already does.) But I could ride to Miss Sally’s and go fishing maybe. I could ride to school. Groan. I wasn’t ready to think about that again yet. I could almost maybe, well, not quite, keep up with Wes on his motorcycle.
A new bike would be the neatest Christmas present. The very neatest! A bike of my own and not a hand-me-down rusty bike that’s been buried under a ton of hay for years in some old farmer’s hayloft. Maybe if I start talking now I can talk Dad into it by Christmas. It never hurts to ask, does it? Except Dad is always thinking about how we don’t have a lot but we have what we need and some of the people in town don’t have what they need, not even a rusty old bike, and how it’s our Christian duty to share our blessings. I’m all for that. But I could use that bike. I might even be able to keep an eye on Mr. Whitlow if I had that bike! Well, I could have last week.
Oh, I didn’t tell you, did I? He’s disappeared. Well, I can’t say for sure that he disappeared, but he’s left town. Didn’t check out. Bill Jackson says his room is paid up to the end of September. Says his clothes or at least some of them are still in his room. When somebody asked him how he knew that, Bill said it was his responsibility to check the room after the man didn’t show up at the grill for breakfast two days in a row. The man might be sick or even, God forbid, dead. And wouldn’t that cause a stink?! It didn’t matter that his car was gone too. A person never knows and it’s good to know. I think I like the way Bill thinks.
Zella doesn’t know where he is. She doesn’t want to talk about it either. She’s worse than Cat before Wes feeds her. Snarling at the first word about anything. And she couldn’t care less if that man was in town or out of town. Just ask her, if you dare, and she’ll tell you.
But oh, that bike. Did you ever have a brand new bike? Did it have a new bike smell? Or was there something else you wanted so bad that you started wishing for it in August?