Memoir of a movie tragical
The year I was in third grade, I started school in Hanover, Illinois (the town with the Apple River running through it - we ice skated there, winters). Partway through the year we moved to Columbia, Missouri. We rented an upstairs apartment from Student Housing. John hadn't started school yet, Peter was a baby, my dad went to the U of M morning & came home in the afternoon when I got home from school so Mother could leave to work "3-11" at the hospital. My teacher's name was Miss Barbie & she LOOKED like Barbie, the brunette one with bubble hair. She was totally young & beautiful & she was nice, too. All of us who had her were crazy about her. In the spring she got married & her last name became Polish & unpronounceable. It took me a little while to find new friends at school, coming in the middle of the year, but I did get to be really good friends with one girl, Jane Preston, with whom, even though we moved to Arizona that next fall, I stayed pen pals for awhile. Her letters were very well-written. She was pretty & slender. She had a strawberry mark right over the bridge of her nose. If you went all the way to the edge of our schoolyard, there was a huge (or so it seemed at the time) drop-off & then dirt & a few trees below. One day at recess I climbed one of the trees with a boy & we kissed. That summer after third grade I got to take an early version of an enrichment class, studying insects. We had to make a butterfly collection & put pins through the center of poor, beautiful, dead butterflies. I also took ballet at the private girl's college, Stephens, for a few months. It was a gift from my grandparents, but I had no gift for ballet, so that was discontinued.
But none of this is what I want to tell you about. What I REALLY want to tell you about is how fine it was living in student housing. After school, & most of those summer days, I was free to run amok, as long as I took John & Peter. (My entire LIFE I've been free to run amok, as long as I took the kids with me - no matter whose they were. . .) That way my dad could sleep afternoons until suppertime, which he was willing to make pretty late. He's a very good cook. One time he asked us what we wanted & for a good joke, we sang out "Apple Dumplings!" so he made an enormous batch of really tasty ones. We ate as many as we could, but we were pretty scrawny kids with smallish stomachs & he was really disappointed that we didn't eat them all. Behind the student apartments was an enormous, somewhat hilly field at the far end of which was an abandoned cow barn. Beyond that lay the woods. We weren't allowed into those woods, unless my dad went too, which he occasionally did. 'Cause of being only 8, 4 & 1, I guess. They were damp, those woods. Sometimes we found shell fossils there. But we could go as far as the cow barn & play in it. Lots of us did. Our neighbors & playmates were all ages. In the late winter & early spring, when snow covered the field, after school & snow days, there were a jumble of sleds & snowsuits everywhere. One time Peter toddled off, I can't remember this at all, except for my mother's frantic searching. He obviously showed up somewhere.
But wait, none of THAT is even exactly what I thought was so fine. THIS is what I REALLY loved about living there: every Friday night as soon as it got warm enough, there were OUTSIDE movies!! Two things I love with all my heart, movies & being outside. You would have thought I'd died & gone to Hollywood Heaven's Drive-In, without the cars. All the kids & lots of grown-ups too, sprawled on blankets across the grass. Crickets buzzed while we watched Dumbo & cried. Cheaper by the Dozen got rained out right as they were all having their tonsils removed. But the best (& SADDEST) of all was The Glenn Miller Story. Talk about your tragical! & with just the best music ever...