Saturday, August 12, 2006


There’s a new kid up the street
They moved in the Jones’ old place
She’s got hair as red as fire
And she’s got freckles all over her face
She smiled at me when they passed
Had teeth like a jack-o-lantern
Looked like ever other one was missing
And one eye was crossed as she turned
Let’s go watch her playin’ in the yard
See what she plays with all alone
Look at the old worn out box and doll
This ain’t where she belongs

Jackie, Jackie
is that your name
Jackie, Jackie

That sure is tacky
Jackie, Jackie
Is that your only friend

Making mud pies on a cardboard stove
Talking to her doll in a make-believe tone
She ignored us as we teased and teased
Practicing for the future as she played alone
She had more feeling than anyone there
Wiped away a tear as she turned away
Let’s mess up her playhouse and run
Then go back to my house and play
Leave her alone, let’s get away from here

Don’t side with her, or you’re dead
One threw a rock as I jumped the hedge
Grabbed a mud pie and hit Dixie in the head

Jackie, Jackie
is that your name
Jackie, Jackie
My new friend
Jackie, Jackie
Your only friend
Keep you head down
Here they come again

Jackie was a real person, a real playmate of mine who moved in after the “doctor games” had ended. I made a life changing turn in my life that year, somewhere between nine and ten years old. Besides giving up sex (inside joke for those that have read the above post), I began to have feelings for others outside my family. Maybe it was because I was still an only child at that point and knew how it was to be lonely at times, but it was at that time in my life Jackie moved to the neighborhood.

I wrote the simple poem (above) some thirty years ago, still thinking about Jackie and wondering if I had done enough back then to give her some amount of confidence in her life to help her step out and be something special. That was fifty-one years ago and our families stayed in touch for about ten years after that, but I only remember seeing her once after we moved. We visited for about an hour at her father’s “quick check” store in Nashville.

She was probably the most teased and tormented kid I ever knew and it did something to me. I had real anger inside me when the other girls picked on her and made fun of her hair, missing teeth, and lazy eye. That was the motivation for another “beast” event (see August 7th post) in my early life.

The other girls (you remember there were no boys in my hood) threw rocks and called us names for weeks after I broke ranks and joined her side of the hedge. Several times even I was beaten up by the older and much larger girl that was the ringleader of my former friends. Sometimes Jackie and I both were afraid to come outside and play and our parents knew it. They often spoke of it to the other mothers, but nothing seemed to matter – the heckling, name-calling, and occasional slap fights continued.

I did not have a “carry” permit then, like I do now, but I did carry a bag of rocks for protection – mostly they were just a collection of my favorite rocks, but deep inside I knew I would have to part with one someday soon. One in particular, was nothing more than a sharp flat piece of red terracotta drainage tile, about three inches long and very sharp. I rolled this rock repeatedly between my fingers, down inside the bag, as I nervously walked between my house and Jackie’s for comfort.

“Big Dixie” stepped out from behind a bush and yelled at me in a teasing tone, “Where’s your girlfriend?” She then threw a rock in my direction and bent down for another.

When she straighten back up and turned toward me, like David in the Goliath story, I took aim and hurled the red tile in her direction, not expecting it to hit her. However, if I had walked over to her and pushed it against her head, it would not have gone any straighter into her forehead than it did!

The blood, as do most head wounds, poured profusely. She did not scream or let on as if she was hurt until she saw the blood on the hand she used to check her brow – then it sounded as if I had shoved a splinter up under her fingernail!

I actually felt sick at that moment. I thought I had seriously injured her and that she would die and I would really get a beating from my dad. She and I both ran home screaming as we went.

I ran into my house and began to explain to mom what had happened. I could tell mom was busily assessing her next move, as I sniffled and wiped snot through the details.

Dixie’s mom rushed her to the hospital where she got several stitches to stop the bleeding and a tetanus shot.

The very next day our moms discussed the incident over the backyard fence to determine the appropriate resolution. This was the way such incidents were handled in the 50’s – no lawyers, no guns, and only a little cussing!

It was decided that I had to be punished and that Dixie and her mother had to witness the execution. Lucky for me the punishment was allowed to take place in my mom’s bedroom that was in easy earshot. Only a window screen was between the witnesses and us, who stood fifteen to twenty feet away behind a fence that separated our yards.

Now the other thing in my favor was that mom knew I had been terrorized and the retaliation had been provoked. She really hated to punish me for standing up for myself and, in a way, for Jackie. On the other hand, she did not want me to think hitting and nearly blinding people was the right way to handle arguments. In that infinite “horse sense” she has, she devised a plan.

She took me into the darken bedroom and began to yell at me and tell me exactly what I had done wrong and that she would not stand for it ever again. She ranted and raved on for minutes (seemed like hours to me) and I was actually being beaten pretty well mentally. She picked up the belt she used normally and began to fold it and prepare for the corporal punishment. I began to dance the innate ritual dance of a child about to be whipped, anticipating the lashes, as if that would ward off the pain!

Still yelling so she could be heard, she leaned over grabbed my head and pulled it toward her in apparent anger and I flinched. Suddenly and unexpectedly, I heard her whispering in my ear, “Yell and scream like I’m killing you!”

At first I did not realize exactly what she meant until she struck the belt hard against the top of the bed, making a loud popping noise. My eyes widened as my brain quickly reacted and I screamed bloody murder! I screamed and begged her to stop and she kept hitting the bed as I danced around the dark room for several minutes.

Finally, after I should have been dead, if I had actually been hit that hard and that often, she stopped, said a few more choice words, and left me laying on the floor pretending I was in pain and crying – should have gotten an academy award!

Mom went outside and walked up to the fence breathing hard from all the “acting” and bed beating and again apologized to Dixie’s mom, who stood there very pale and wondering if I would make it! “Okay, ah, no ah, problem…uh just don’t let it happen again – please?”

When mom came back in she lowered the window and took me by the shoulders, shook me firmly, and said, “I’m not going to whip you this time, I’m just going to talk to you, because I know how that girl is, but don’t ever do that again or I’ll beat you worst than this sounded today – okay?”


From then on, I was often known to beg, “Please don’t whip me this time, just talk to me!” It never worked again.

Jackie, Jackie
My new friend
Jackie, Jackie
My new friend
Keep your head up
They will not come again


Ron Southern said...

Yeah, times are hard when kids have to pick on and bully some other one kid. I never knew why more kids didn't have a sense of fairness. I concluded that most kids are about as sensitive as steel-belted shoes most of the time.

Fathairybastard said...

Damn, yer mom was cool.

Fathairybastard said...

How do you post those old pictures? Take em somewhere and have em scanned onto a cd or somethin?

Mushy said...

I scan old pictures and slides with an Epson scanner into .jpg files and retouch them (although this one was not) with Adobe Elements.

She still is cool and turns 80 in October.

Jewels said...

I totally love your mom for that. She's a brilliant woman in my opinion. You were so blessed to have a mom who took your feelings into account. I was not so lucky, but it's my mission to be the kind of mom to my boys, that my mom couldn't be to me. Take care my Mushy friend. :)

Mushy said...

I'm counting on you that for them!

Scott from Oregon said...

A bullseye all around, Mushy!