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POOR LITTLE DIRTY GIRL… YOU SMELL BAD!
I was standing by the windows near the cloakroom at school. My face was burning, I was so embarassed. Nobody had ever told me that ….I held my head down, hot tears falling on the front of my dress. I wanted to sink into the floor.
Gloria, we aren’t trying to hurt your feelings, we care and want to help you. One of the girls standing there was looking at me with pity… well maybe… it was compassion in her eyes ..now, that I look back.
I looked up into their faces … Deborah, Mary Pat, Kathy, Betty, and several others. I was too embarassed to look anymore and hung my head down. Just let me get back to Grandma Alma and George’s. I wanted 3:00 to come so, I could go home!
I’m too ashamed to tell them. I never knew, I never knew until these kind girls took it upon themselves to tell me. They were trying to help me. Grandma and George did the best they could, I knew no better than what I was told to do, how could I have known?
Grandma, grandma! I was calling my grandma as I opened the screen door. I wanted to tell my grandma what those girls told me! Grandma Alma was sitting in her recliner, she had her head tilted to one side looking for me to come through the door to her sitting room (the Arena). She had a smile on her face. I loved my grandma with my very heart!
I ran to her, as I began to tell her what happened at school today, I began sobbing. I felt awful! I was so ashamed to be in the world. I felt too embarassed to tell my grandma what those girls did.
“Faye, what’s wrong?” My grandma was looking at me with tears in her eyes, she knew something had hurt me deeply. I couldn’t talk, I was crying my heart out.
I finally stopped crying, I took the hem of my dress and wiped my eyes, and my runny nose. My eyes burned, and I felt so sleepy now. I always felt sleepy after I cried, everytime I got a whipping I would cry my heart out, and I would crawl into bed and go to sleep. I could be at peace there.
My shoulders were jerking, and I was sniffling. My nose kept running. My dress hem was soaking wet with tears, and from wiping my nose.
Grandma, do I smell bad? I asked my Grandma did I stink? Grandma, some girls at school made me so embarassed today. They said they had a present to give me, to help me smell better. Oh, Grandma, I was so ashamed! I’m so ashamed I could just kill myself! I feel like nothing!
My Grandma Alma began to talk softly to me, she told me she could understand how I felt. She told me she was so sorry that they only had cold water at her house. There was only cold water in the bathtub, too. George had to heat my water each morning for me to bath, he couldn’t bathe a little girl. No, he couldn’t do that at all.
I was too little to heat my own water to take a bath with. At my home… at my home? Why couldn’t I be back at my own home? I began to cry again… my mama was gone and I didn’t know when she would come back to get me. My little brother, Wm Ernest was gone, also. I began to cry harder… my heart was broken.
I laid my head on the arm of my grandma’s chair and weeped. Grandma was crying with me. We both cried together. She took her good hand and rubbed my head. I felt such love from my grandma.
I kept thinking about those girls and the present they gave me. There was a bottle of Jergen’s lotion, and a bar of Dial soap, and a plastic bottle with Tussy deodorant, and a … washcloth.
Grandma and George had washclothes. George was blind, he always had clean washclothes, I helped him to fold them. George did the laundry by himself, I tried to help him. How much can a little girl do?
I would tell him everytime he would walk toward something that he could bump into to hurt him. I loved George with my heart… except when he hollered so loudly. George could really holler… it’d make you jump!
That night I decided when I got up in the morning to get ready for school that I would wash myself very, very good and smell so nice. I never wanted anyone to think I smelled bad … never again!
I kept thinking about how I didn’t know that I didn’t bathe good enough. No one ever told me. At my house, Wm Ernest and I always got into warm water in our bathtub, we got to play in the tub when we took our baths at nighttime.
My mama always made sure we were clean and had the softest towels to wrap up in. She would dry us off and put pajamas on us. I loved the clean smells at my home! I missed them!
My mama would tuck me into bed every night and she’d pull the cover up to my ears, she’d gently tuck the cover on each side of my ears to keep them warm. I loved my mama with my very heart. (As an adult when I lay dying… this vision of my mother tucking the covers around my ears to keep them warm… stayed in my mind when I was in the ‘dark world’.. this vision comforted me.)
Where was my mama? Where was my little brother? When am I going home again? Our home was so clean, my clothes were so nice. No one ever said I smelled bad before!
This little girl didn’t know… she had just begun one of many journeys in her life. She’d never know the security of ‘family’… never again as a child. She’d just went to hell… she just didn’t realize it …yet. Life was going to get rough… she was going to have to learn to toughen up to …survive.
This little girl never saw her brother, Wm Ernest… again until once when they were teenagers, only several times in adulthood. He’d been taken to Wisconsin to live with his father, the man I first knew as ‘Daddy’. I never saw him again.
My little sister came into the world, and I only knew her for months.. she too, was taken from my world as a little girl. I lost the most important people of my little girl world. I can’t begin to count the tears I cried as a little child.. my mama was gone… coming back from time to time…only to leave again.
My little precious brother was gone forever in my childhood, he had meant the world to me. My beautiful little blue-eyed baby sister was taken away at the same time I was taken away from Grandma Alma and George’s to go live with my Grandmother Lola.
My little sister was taken to her new parents. I never forgot the kind voice of the lady who held my sister… she told me that I could see her again. It’s strange how her voice traveled in my mind… always. It was so… kind. I think she cared with her heart.
I never saw my little sister after I was taken once again… to go live with my mama again. I never saw her until I was in my early fifties. How she touched my heart. She was by my side when we went to my Grandmother Lola’s funeral.
I never see my brothers and sister, though I don’t….. I love them all very much. They are ‘my’ brothers and sister. My father wasn’t their father.
I can look back to the day the girls at school gave me the ‘present’… they opened my eyes up to knowing a person needs to always smell clean.. I always bathed even with cold water, and I always smelled good. I really love my showers to this day… I love to smell so wonderfully clean! I love bubbles and warm water!
I think I will say ‘thank-you’ to those girls now. It was always hard to ever look them in the eye after that. I was moved so many times between grandmas and my mama’s … that I would see them only from time to time… I was changing schools constantly.
Do you know.. looking back? Even as a child, I never told on anyone… rarely did I complain about how I was treated. I think I was just ‘playing ball’ and learning the rules as I went. I don’t think I knew that I could tell someone what was happening in my life… I accepted it and did the best I could.
People would say mean things to me as a child… looking back… couldn’t they ‘see’, didn’t they know what was going on? Didn’t they even …care? Couldn’t they see that …. poor little dirty girl?
They did see and love the little clean girl, they could see me …then. I was loved and the center of attention ‘before’…. what in the world happened? I never knew until I was older… but, God… how I suffered.
Look at your babies and ‘just imagine for a moment’…. you wouldn’t let them be at the mercy of other people, and be little dirty girls, or boys. They are so little and so fragile, and … precious.
I was a precious little girl at one time, but… at the age of nine… my fairytale ended. I became a stepdaughter, unwanted daughter, unwanted child. Where did my fairy godmother go? I became the child who was always on the outside looking in …at what I used to know… a cosy, warm, and loving home, beautiful little dresses and lacey socks, warm meals, toys that were for me.
Someone used to make me good meals to eat, brush my long hair until it would shine, care for me… where did it all go? I couldn’t find it anymore…. until I looked from a distance into your windows as I passed by… at your cosy, warm, loving life.
I’d become a poor little dirty girl… I was too little to know. Others saw what I had to learn… no one made anything easy for me. I had become … nobody.
Now.. I look back at that child and wish to hug her, and make everything alright. It’s okay now… she stayed dirty no longer after she knew. Life was hell for her… but, she went through it … clean!
Another good thing this author would like to say… I’m very clean, it’s been many, many years since I lived in hell, and now… I’m somebody… I’m a happily married person with two spoiled pups. It’s been a very long time since I lived in hell. I live a very quiet and private life.
My Aunt Frankie used to tell me I could choose to not have bad things in my life. I’m a good ‘somebody’ … and I’m so clean! :))) I’m smiling now…. I see I’m ready to go to bed now. Goodnight now… I sure have enjoyed talking to you. You all mean the world to me!