Here are a few stories about people who were different.
Several years back I wrote a book for kids ages 9 to 90 called “Elmer the Dancing Turtle.” Ma and Pa Turtle’s hearts swelled with pride as they watched a little boy turtle and then a little girl turtle crack out of their eggs. It seemed an eternity before the third egg moved, then out came a little boy turtle — dancing. His mother and father knew Elmer was different from the others. He was accepted by his family, but how would the rest of the world accept him?
This brings me back to a girl that I went to school with. I will not call her real name. I will call her Skippy, the name that the kids gave her.
Skippy was a very pretty girl but she skipped along when she should have walked. She always seemed to be full of energy. She would start out walking and end up skipping. It looked like she was jumping rope.
The idea of a dancing Turtle came from Skippy. Those that knew Skippy loved her, for she was a very sweet caring person. There was a wall at Elm Street School that we would sit on during recess. She would see me sitting on the wall and come over and sit with me. I had many a child’s conversation with her.
When we moved from West Rome and changed school, I lost sight of her. But I ran across her later at an Easter egg hunt. Though years had passed since seeing her, she was the same caring person as when she was Skippy. She grew into a pretty girl. Oh yes, and she still skipped.
Then there was a boy who was in my class for three years. He and I were the best of friends. His name was Walter, but due to a defect in his left foot, he limped. The bigger boys gave him the name Limpy.
Limpy was overweight. I believe it was because he could not run and play as others did. He would sit on the wall with a few of us. I never called him Limpy for I was taught never to make fun of other’s misfortune.
Limpy was born with his defect and no one could change that. Being at a disadvantage, he turned to something he could do. His interest was in electronics. He would tear down radios and any kind of electronic equipment he could find. He later went to school to learn electronics. He became a radio and television repair man. He was one of the best in the area at one time.
He was different because he was overweight and walked with a limp. Did he deserve the names he was called as a kid? He had a good mind and put it to work for himself in later years. I do not believe that anyone should be subject to name-calling.
There was a lady who lived on the street behind me when I lived in Fourth Ward. Her first name was Evie. All the kids in the neighborhood called her “Crazy Evie.” All the kids except the Adcocks. When we met her we called her Miss Eve, and her face would light up.
Miss Eve was getting old and her yard would grow up. She had a hard time keeping the grass cut. I saw her trying to cut the grass and I told my mother that I was going to help her. I walked up to her and told her to let me see the lawn mower. I began to cut the grass.
Her yard wasn’t too big, so it didn’t take very long. Miss Eve had a fenced-in garden. It was full of tomatoes and other garden stuff. When I got though, I left and went fishing with a couple of buddies. I got back and there was a table full of vegetables. Miss Eve had got them out of her garden and brought them to us.
I had caught a big mess of catfish that day. Seeing Miss Eve in her garden, I went to the fence and called to her. She came over and I asked her if she liked fish. He eyes lit up and she said “Henry used to catch fish and we would eat them. I haven’t had fish in a long time.” I gave the fish to her. With a thank you, she took the fish and went into the house.
“Crazy Evie,” as folks called her, was one of the best people in the neighborhood. She was a very old woman who was lonesome. When we made friends with her she showed us what a friend could be. If one of us got sick, Miss Eve was the first one there to help out. Take time to know people before you tag them with a name.
I left most of my school friends when we moved from West Rome. My first year at Neely I met and made new friends. There was a boy named Austin. Even as long as it has been, I do believe that he was the ugliest boy that I ever met.
Austin may have been ugly but he was one of the most decent people that I have ever met. I was standing on the steps on the first day of school when a boy standing close said, “Well, well, here come old Pug Ugly.” I saw who he was talking about, and admitted to myself that he was uglier than I was. I still didn’t believe that gave anyone to right to call him Pug Ugly.
Time went on and I noticed that Austin would stay by himself. I decided to make friends with him. I would sit on a bench where he sat and start a conversation with him. It wasn’t long before he was walking home with us.
The crowd of boys and girls that walked from Fourth Ward to Neely never called him Pug Ugly. We all called him Austin. His name. He finally felt that our group was his friends and we weren’t going to make fun of him. He fit in, and being ugly didn’t bother him.
Now he may have been ugly back then, but Austin married a girl who was a beauty. If you stop and think about it — age will make you look better or worse. Austin looked better as he aged. I have always believed the good Lord made us the way he wanted us to look.
My last words are: Before you find fault with others, stop and look at yourself. Then, if you are perfect, you may call others names.