There were a lot of people that took an interest in me when I was a child, and although they couldn’t completely dispel the ignorance of the world that was inherent in my situation, they did give me a few glimpses of what was beyond our front door.
We lived in a four room house. (At one time there were seven of us.) Mom was often sick and Dad didn’t make much money. We had little in the way of worldly goods and we seldom went anywhere special except at those times that some generous adult stepped in to brighten our horizons.
One of my favorite memories of my early years was when I was a second grader. My teacher, also my best friend’s aunt, took the two of us to a neighboring city for a day. She didn’t drive, so the trip was accomplished by bus. We two little girls rode the city bus downtown where we met the aunt and boarded the bus for the city. In the evening, after our day in the city, this was reversed.
While in the city that day, I remember seeing a beautiful display of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer books. I longed for the book. Of course, I couldn’t buy it—I probably only had a little pocket change in my little handbag that I was permitted to spend myself; but that day we did ride an elevator and an escalator and were taken to see a Disney movie after eating in a restaurant—it was a truly memorable day.
Another time my aunt, a dry old woman who went out about as seldom as our family did, took me to the movies for some biblical epic. Perhaps the movie was “The Robe.” I no longer can remember; but I do remember it was a unique experience to see a movie that was so long it had an intermission—and on such a wide screen.
Other times, relatives enlisted me as company for cousins attending a carnival or a drive-in movie. I was invited to a neighbor’s home to watch some musical program on television back when TVs were not situated in every living room.
Had it not been for all those kind people allowing me to participate in their lives, I would have grown up completely ignorant of the world outside our little house and rural school.
An interesting thing is that most of the time when I went on delightful outings by the kindness of others, my mother would scrape together the money to give me for whatever activity was planned; but often my benefactor would not allow me to pay. If the money I was given was not spent for the purpose intended, I always returned home with it and gave it back to Mother.
Today, most children enjoy a variety of experiences. They have a rich environment through television programming even if they seldom leave home. In our time it was different. It was only through the kindness of others that I was able to share in experiences I would otherwise never have had. At the time, I didn’t know enough to be grateful for the favors I was given, but I am grateful now.
Read more articles, stories and poems by Elizabeth Ruth at: www.trovemagazine.com