Do Sa DoWhen mom first drove up the long drive to pick me up at the end of that first summer Beth and I were out in the yard playing on the swing. I knew that she would be coming that day but I didn't know just when so I was not really surprised when she drove up, but I was aware that it would be the end of the best summer that I had ever had.
Beth ran over to the car crying, "Auntie Marie, Auntie Marie!" I followed along walking behind and got to the car just as my mother was getting out. She hugged Beth and then I stepped in and as she turned to me I put my arms around her and catching the scent of her perfume I gave her a welcome heart hug. As I was hugging her I realized how much I really had missed her. Finally we parted and she stepped back and looked at me and said, "Well you're going to take some getting used to."
I just looked at her and said, "Yes ma'am, and took her hand and led her to the house. Well it was just about time for lunch so we sat at the table while Aunt Pantogie finished making the sandwiches. She had already told my mom about me when she talked to her on the phone and she had sent her some pictures of me and Beth, but as my mom said, "You can see a picture of the Grand Canyon but you will never have seen it unless you go and see it." That was one of those sayings that stood the test of time, and that is really the hardest test of all. Beth and I pestered her to death with showing her what we made at church, our dolls, and with what we made. I think when I showed her the pillow case I embroidered she really stopped and took note. She looked at me and then at Aunt Pantogie and asked if I really did that and I told her that I did. She just kept looking at it and touching the thread. Finally lunch was ready and we ate. I got really tired and it was very hot so I laid down with Beth and we took a nap while Aunt Pantogie and my mother chatted.
Well the next morning I went back home and it really hurt me, the first time I really hurt, and proof I did have a heart. Mother talked to me all the way home about all the things we did all summer. I told her about the vacation bible school, about the lightening bugs that we would catch, and about the barbecue that we went to and just so much other stuff. Oh and I told her about learning to square dance. I told her that I really enjoyed it and the music and dancing with Beth. She asked me who my partner was and I told her that Beth was because we were short on boys but long on girls. I remembered she would laugh as a giggle and then as a loud ha ha!
Well when we got home I had to start to act as a boy, but only for about three weeks when mom decided that she liked me better as Shelly than Steve and started to home school me. Back then home school wasn't as popular as it is today, but mom made it all right somehow. I found out later that because of Daddy dying in Korea just after I was born, and because of all the money that mom had no one wanted to say anything to her. So we lived together and had a great time. I can barely remember anything before that, but after I seem to remember a lot. She told me one day that I was going to go take square dance lessons. I was really happy and I wrote Beth the very next day. I was writing to her just about every three days and I got to call her about twice a month. She told me all about her school and we both told each other how much we missed each other. Well I was dressing as Shelly all the time and I don't remember if I had any boy clothes anymore or not.
Well Christmas time came and I got a great present from Santa that year. I got three square dance records, and I got a red cowgirl skirt and vest with white fringe and a white cowgirl hat. I also got white cowgirl boots with little red tassels. I had to try it on and it all fit perfect, and mother said I looked just alike a little cowgirl. She said I looked just like Toots Griffin, but I don't think I ever found out who that was. Mother knew lots of people. I remember I wore it all day and went to sleep with the boots right by my bed. I wore them when I went to square dance lessons and the lady and her husband that gave the lessons said I was getting very good. I used to practice with mother all the time. My favorite was Red River. The Red River is a river that separates Oklahoma from Texas, and the river that separated Beth and I, so I guess it became my favorite.
Well the spring came and round about the end of May off we went. I was so very happy to be going back to see Beth and my aunt Pantogie. I don't know why but I just had to take all the letters that Beth wrote to me. Well it seemed we took forever to get there, but they lived in the middle of West Texas, and let me tell you that is a big place. It just seems to go on and on. But finally we got there and it was so great to see Beth and Mother again after not seeing them. They showed me all the new stuff and we talked and talked, it was really great. But a couple of days later my real mother left and it was just Beth, Mom, and myself.
A couple of days after that we went to square dancing lessons and since it was such a small town in terms of people living there they didn't care who was dancing, just so you could breathe and were younger than 12 years old. Well I guess I did really well since they were so impressed, but there is really nothing to it, you just have to listen to the callers.
Well Beth and I were enjoying the square dance lessons and we were getting pretty good. The lady that was teaching us began to talk to us about doing this or that and how to impress the judges. I didn't really understand who was going to be judging us until one day she was talking to mother and while we were dancing. After the lesson was over she came over to us and sat us down and started to talk to us real serious. Grown-ups should never talk to kids like that asking them to sit down and then start out saying I've got something real important to talk to you about. Our dancing instructor said that we were real good and that she wanted to have someone that she knew from El Paso to see us so that we could be in a contest. She said that the chances were good that we could win some prizes and even some money.
Well the man was coming to our next lesson so we practiced over and over in the yard all week. Well the man came and saw us dance and then he said that we were really good but we could not compete in the contest. He said it was against the rules to let two girls dance together. Well no one said anything, but then mother said that Beth wasn't my regular partner but only a stand in for the boy that was sick. She told him that she thought that someone she talked to him and said that she thought he knew that. He said that no one talked to him but if the boy was as good as the blonde girl that we could dance. Well I didn't know where I was going to get someone to dance with me and I really didn't care, I only wanted Beth to dance with me. Well the man left and the contest was in a week or 10 days, I don't remember which. One day mother said that my new partner was coming over later that day. I didn't care I didn't want another partner. Some of mother,s friends came over and then she called Beth in and told me to wait on the porch. I remember sitting in the swing waiting for my new partner and watching the grasshoppers and cicada bugs in the yard, when mother came out and told me my new partner was here. Well I didn't believe her as I was on the porch the whole time and I didn't see anyone come up the drive.
But when I walked in there was this boy just a little taller than I was and he had blue eyes, shiny short black hair, and he was wearing red boots, jeans, white shirt, and red bolo tie. I couldn't believe my eyes, I mean I didn't see him drive up with his mother or father, no one drove up. Just about that time he smiled and I knew that smile, it was Beth. I guess my jaw dropped, I mean I just couldn't believe it, and all I could say was, "You cut her hair."
Well we both got dressed and they took pictures of us and then a couple of days later we had another lesson. Well two days after that we had to wake up before sunrise and leave in the car as we would be driving all day long, and when we got to EL Paso the sun was getting low in the sky, but being summer there was still lots of light. We got to stay in a hotel and Beth and I had a great time there. Well the next day we had to start out real early in the morning, and it was pretty boring the next two days. All we did was wait and then dance a little and then wait some more. That is what I remember the most. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They had TV. We lived so far out in the country that we hardly ever got to watch TV. Most of the time you couldn't get anything and when you did it was all snowy and fuzzy so there wasn't much use in trying. But here you could see it all and there was 5 channels to choose from. I use to love Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, and of course Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. But then the next day we would find out who was going to be in the semi-finals. Well we made it and then after another day we were in the finals. By nightfall it was down to 8 couples and after it was all over we came in second place. I was so tired, but very happy. We got to go and get boots for free, we got a lot of records, both of us got a trophy, and we also got a $100.00 savings bond. We also got our picture and names in the paper. Well we finally got home a couple of days later, and after all the hoopla and stuff was over we were laying in bed together talking. Beth said, Sissy they wouldn't let two girls dance together, but they let a girl dressed as a boy dance with a boy dressed as a girl. Well I thought about that and figured it had to be the idea of some man.