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Saturday, March 26, 2011


After just writing "The Trade," I have to tell you this story for it happened the very next year.
My parents made the decision to move to Charleston when I was in the middle of the eighth grade at St. Albans Junior High School: I was devastated. Didn't want to move and leave my friends or the house but a twelve year old girl has no say in the matter. Moving was a blur but my parents and I did move and I found myself going to Lincoln Junior High School.

It was quite a bit of a culture shock coming from a laid-back school and surroundings to a new junior high school. And the kids here dressed far differently--they were more grown-up in dress [not that St. Albans Junior High was that laid back--it was just different and I missed it.] And I had that one straight skirt as I had written about. Over the months, I made new friends and had gotten a new wardrobe and styles had changed somewhat.
Every week in the fall, our school's football team had a game during school time and I remember boarding a bus with all of us crammed inside [there were lots of buses and lots of kids!] and the bus driver taking us to a field in Kanawha City somewhere.

Here I was screaming at the top of my lungs with the other people and it was so much fun!
Even better was that after the game, we were driven back to school and then told to go home.

After a couple of football game adventures, I was having the time of my life.
My parents had divorced and my mom and I lived in an apartment. She still wore glorious shoes and clothes and one day came home with a cobalt blue cashmere coat. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen or touched! I was forbidden to wear anything of my mom's: That point had been proven when I took her alligator shoes for a trade. And yes, I had nice things to wear BUT not a cobalt blue coat. Ever.

I guess I should say that even in grade school when I was a student, we had a half hour recess in the morning, an hour for lunch and we could go anywhere we wanted to and a half hour recess in the afternoon. In junior high school, which is now middle school, we lost the recesses of course but kept the hour long lunch period. Either I went with friends to eat somewhere at lunch time or I went home and if I went home, my girlfriends came along with me.

It was one of those football game days and I had gone home for lunch with my best friend. Who knows what got into me but I took out my mom's cobalt blue cashmere coat and wore it back to school. After all of us got off of the bus for the game, I felt so special in that coat! We were on the bleachers screaming when I heard a rip! I looked at the coat and the entire seam under the left arm had come loose. Horror struck me like lightning. Took off the coat, put it over my arm and can't remember a thing about the rest of the game except getting off the bus and runnning home. It occurred to me that there was a seamstress who lived up the street from my mom and me: She had done alterations on some of my clothes.

I ran like lightning to her house and then realized I didn't have a nickel to my name. But I rang her doorbell praying she would be home and luck was with me! She was. And she fixed the sleeve of my mom's coat and didn't charge me a thing.
Rushed home, hung up the cobalt blue cashmere coat in my mom's closet and kept my cool.

Nothing was ever said about the coat to her: I just couldn't. And I never did even when I became and adult and was teaching. Somehow, I had locked that experience in the back of my mind. In all those years, she never knew and I wish I had told her: It would have been hysterical at that point in our lives. After the trade and then the blue coat, I never took another article of clothing from my mom without her knowing it or anything else for that matter.
My mom passed away almost ten years ago. I have lots of her coats and can't wear them for I became much taller than she. Odd twist of fate wouldn't you say?

Sherry Hill

*This was published in the Charleston West Virginia Gazette

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