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Tuesday, 09 April 2013

Love Notes

By Jeanne Waite Follett of Gullible's Travels

Jimmy loved me. He said so in a note I received this week.

It was delivered the modern way — by email forwarded from a friend. In it, Jimmy confessed he loved me. At least, he loved me right up until he met Fronna and then he dumped me in favor of her. I never knew.

We were seven when Jimmy loved me. That was 61 years ago and I suppose I should call him Jim, or James. He probably doesn’t go by Jimmy anymore, especially because in the intervening years he was a Marine and none of the Marines I’ve ever known have gone by the diminutive of their proper names.

But in second grade I knew him as Jimmy and thus I’ll continue to call him that until he asks that I not do so anymore.

Why he didn’t send the note directly to me deserves some explaining.

In a few months, my high school graduating class will have its 50th reunion. There’s a web site dedicated to it with vintage and current photos and short autobiographies posted for catching up with our friends. Craig, our volunteer webmaster, is doing a masterful job especially when you remember that we are of a generation that does not have technology genes embedded in our DNA. Electric typewriters and Polaroid cameras were the hot gadgets back then.

Jimmy’s name and picture do not appear in our senior year book. He thinks it was the vice principal’s plot to keep him out. To set his mind at ease, I will write and tell him no one ever dated my diploma and I wonder to this day if that means I never graduated.

So, with Jimmy’s bona fides in doubt, Craig asked several of us if we knew Jimmy though he goes by a different last name now.

I remembered him. I’d even posted a photo in an online Picassa album of a second grade class photo and identified as many of the students as I could. Except, I wrote Jimmy’s last name wrong and Picassa won’t let me correct it. (Remember what I said about those technology genes?)

Seven-year-old boys are not known for professing their love to seven-year-old girls, so I never knew that Jimmy loved me right up until he met Fronna in fourth grade and then I was history.

I may have still been suffering from the mortal embarrassment I felt the previous Christmas in 1948, when a first grade classmate (whose name I barely knew) gave me a Christmas present.

He and his mom delivered it to me at home on Christmas Eve. I had nothing to give back and was appalled. I still have that gift. It was a sewing kit — a gray, hinged box filled with multi-colored cotton thread.

Today, the piece of foam used as a spacer is crumbling into powder, but the thread is still bright, every bit as bright as the memory of that young boy standing in a cold, snowy doorway with his mom holding out a gaily wrapped present, and my embarrassment.

A couple years ago, a mutual friend put me in touch with another classmate, Jack, who told our friend he thought I was the cutest girl in class which for grade school kids is tantamount to declaring undying love and adoration. I never knew about that either.

Jack had a twin sister and I would go to their house to play with her, well aware of her cute brother, but Jack never spoke to me. Today Jack and I are close friends.

Norman walked home from school with me in third grade for a couple days then broke my heart the next by running ahead with the boys. In fifth grade, Wiley told me I was cute — then never spoke to me again.

When I was in eighth grade, junior high school, we had a Sadie Hawkins Day dance. The tradition was that girls asked boys for dates for this dance. I asked a boy whose name I can’t remember now, and I suspect that has a lot to do with the embarrassment I inflicted on him with the corsage my mother fixed up for him.

It was a small paper plate with two artificial sunny-side-up eggs and a rasher of bacon all decorated with ribbon.

The boy and I “danced” once, then we each became one with the walls on opposite sides of the Central Junior High gymnasium. He ditched the corsage rather early and avoided me afterwards.

My crushes, and there were several, went unrequited in high school. I dated Art a couple times but mostly ran around with a small group, both boys and girls, just close friends.

Jan gave me my first kiss. It was during senior week right before graduation. Actually, it was a week of one on-going party and when Jan leaned in the window of my (parent’s) car and kissed me, I think beer might have had a lot to do with it. I don’t think we’ve ever spoken since, though I’ve seen him at some reunions over the years.

I am really looking forward to this 50th reunion. Maybe this year, now that we’ve learned how sad it is not to tell people that we like them, admire them and value their friendship, I’ll tell Jan he was the first boy who ever kissed me.

Jimmy won’t be at the reunion so I’ll have to tell him by email how sweet it would have been if he’d told me he loved me when we were seven. It would have been nice to know. Maybe if we’d been able to do that all along, I could have been spared much of my teenage angst, thinking no one cared.

In the meantime, I have a very old sewing kit and some memories: a message from Jack, Wiley’s declaration of my cuteness, a funny Sadie Hawkin’s Day corsage, sharing a milk shake at the Oyster Loaf café with Art, a kiss from Jan.

And, I have an email forwarded through a friend: Jimmy loved me when we were seven.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


A great story and wonderful memories. Have a fabulous time at your 50th!

What a sweet, sweet, story. I met the love of my life when we were six and because of a high school reunion married him at age 62.

Wonderful memories and how you remembered all their names is beyond me. Enjoy that special 50th anniversary and share kisses with all those you loved.

Your story brought back memomries of my own. Have a great 50th reunion. Be sure to write us the outcome. I'll be looking forward to reading that story.

I have always admired your writing and story telling talents since days of Eva, this is a nice reminder.
And, yes, it is such a surprise to hear professions of love so many years later from those in earlier times of life. We cannot bring back the past, only enjoy what is today.

I attended our forty year reunion. I looked at some of the ladies I had crushes on. I wondered what might have been if I'd let it be known.

I also knew there had to be many others doing the same thing. I certainly wondered what some were thinking who were looking at me.

You gave us a great look inside your mind and heart about the times that were. The lesson is not to pile up any more regrets...than necessary.

Funny isn't it, how we think back to the boys we shared special moments with all those years ago. I do, but more with embarrassment than anything else. Still, it's nice to know others look at it in a different way. Good of you to share and enjoy your reunion.

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