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Hunker Down with Kes

We Didn’t Have To ‘Leave It To Beaver’

By Kesley Colbert
Posted 11/30/21

The first week of December used to be the pits. I’m talking the very bottom! Listen, they gave us two days off from school at Thanksgiving...and fed us pretty well. We were living large, enjoying the freedom the holiday provided. We didn’t even mind that the grown-ups got to eat first (well, maybe just a little).

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Hunker Down with Kes

We Didn’t Have To ‘Leave It To Beaver’

Posted

The first week of December used to be the pits. I’m talking the very bottom! Listen, they gave us two days off from school at Thanksgiving...and fed us pretty well. We were living large, enjoying the freedom the holiday provided. We didn’t even mind that the grown-ups got to eat first (well, maybe just a little).

We had two days with no spelling bees; no identifying the multiplier; no reading the Ann Morrow Lindbergh biography; no memorizing state capitals; and no standing in front of the blackboard with the chalk in your hand but nothing in your head...

Good gosh gravy and sweet potato yams! No one did any shopping the day after Thanksgiving! Mostly we just sat around the house and belched...until Buddy and Yogi showed up. Then we’d go outside and kick an old football around.

Thanksgiving always went way quicker than it came.

THEN, we had to go back to school; carrying our cold turnip green and cornbread sandwich lunch in a paper sack. This was 1957. Way before Black Friday was invented

And there wasn’t nothing Cyber (a term we’d never heard) about the following Monday. Black would have been a more apt moniker but we didn’t think about that either.

We dragged ourselves out of bed and back to school on a cold, damp, foggy, dreary, disenchanted second day of December. We likened it to prison or the third shift in the salt mines...which was quite visionary for a group of fifth graders, seeing as how not a one of us had ever been to prison or worked in a salt mine.

And don’t let your mind leap ahead to jingling bells, one horse open sleighs or brightly wrapped presents snuggling under a tree. Nobody was thinking about buying something for Christmas on the days surrounding the last weekend in November. It just never crossed our minds. Back in the ’50’s, Thanksgiving and Christmas were still two separate holidays.

You see our dilemma right off. We had to survive a “pit-filled” week or two till Mr. J. A. Abernathy and Bailey Moore Wrinkle started putting out their “Christmas stuff” in the basements of their respective hardware stores.

It was worse than you could ever imagine—

I heard the steel ball bearing before I saw it. There is no other sound like one of those things rolling across a wooden floor. The classroom went dead still quiet; which, of course, intensified the resounding noise. Yogi, without a doubt, was the instigator here.

I tried to stop it with my foot. Missed! And the ball rolled all the way up to Mrs. Cox’s desk, where, as if guided by some unseen source, it thundered to a stop. She snatched it up and squinted sternly over the top of her “horn rims” at a group of the most innocent young school children that had ever assembled in one room.

You could cut the silence with a knife.

“Bobby (she wasn’t privy to Yog’s real name) and Kesley, come up here!” It wasn’t exactly her polite voice...

“Miss Cox, I didn’t do nothing, I promise.” It was pretty lame. But I WAS innocent!

“Miss Cox, I don’t know anything either. I was studying my math problems. Honest.” Yogi looked and sounded way more convincing. But most assuredly he was not more innocent!

“Does anyone in the class have something to tell me?” You could have cut the silence with a dull knife.

She gave us several licks across the palm of our hand with her trusty 12 inch ruler.

We were both heroes at recess. And I hadn’t done anything...except let everyone gander at my slightly swollen appendage. Yogi had single handedly taken our minds off the “first day back at school” blues.

He was “on me” as soon as the last bell rang. “I rolled it right at you; I didn’t think there was anyway on earth you’d miss it!”

I was thinking, “Well then, I’d been the only one in trouble,” but before I could say anything, Yogi was off in another direction. “I’ve got some cherry bombs leftover from the 4th of July. There ain’t nothing going on, let’s break’em out and pop one or two in a few mailboxes along Paris Avenue.”

The next morning he came to school with a better than average green treefrog slightly hidden in his pocket...

I’m not sure anyone today understands how slow time moved during Eisenhower’s second term. Especially when life was “between” events. We needed something or someone to bridge that gap like a baby needs Gerber, crops need rain, Homer needed Jethro...

Thankfully, we didn’t have to drown in our own doldrums or be subjected to the fickle winds of fate, Yogi always rose to the occasion.

Respectfully,
Kes

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