A good memory to share


Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

While reading an article about Elaine Pagels, renowned scholar and author, a memory kept dangling at the edge of awareness after seeing the writer’s name, Barbara Lane. As a five year old, my imagination offered many opportunities for me to be something other than a child, a sister, a girl. (Perhaps I was a feminist before I knew I was feminine.)

The heavy rope swing hanging from the huge backyard live oak limb was the home of Tarzana, Queen of the Jungle. I refused to be satisfied being Jane, although the honeysuckle covered pergola hosted Alice’s tea parties. The basement was too scary unless Super Man, my brother, was with Super Girl in her fight against evil. In fact, unbeknown to me, I was, no doubt, a real pest to that brother, two years older than me.

In a neighborhood filled with boys, I would do anything I could to be included in their adventures. It only became worse when I learned a new baby was coming to our house. What super hero needed that? I am certain that even the gift of a Shirley Temple doll, complete with a steamer trunk full of fancy outfits, really did little to make me excited about a new baby. Actually, I do not remember having much time to give thought to that upcoming event.

I do vividly remember my grandfather explaining that I was a girl and couldn’t be a boy like my brother unless I could kiss my left elbow. You try it! Gramps was a fount of such worthwhile wisdom.

If memory serves, it was a warm March day when I decided that I missed my brother, and perhaps, wanted to miss that little baby’s cries, so I ran away to school. True story. The school, P.A. Capdau, was a block and a half up Lavender Street to the corner of Franklin Avenue. How this little girl found her way inside of the imposing three story white building, I do not know.

I do remember someone taking me by the hand, walking me up one flight of stairs to the principal’s office! In the principal’s office before I had even started school! I remember looking down at laced up black leather heels, like an old lady would wear, like a witch might wear! Then, the black stockings, the hem of a black dress all the way up to her face! Mrs. Dixon, taller it seemed than even the oak tree, bent over, gently took my hand and asked my name.

Since I decided she wasn’t a witch, I said my name was, “Bobbie Lane.” I don’t know how long it took for someone to figure out that I had come to school to be with my brother, Larry. I assume I must have mentioned my hero Super Man was named Larry, a first grader, and that is how they figured out I was Larry Rolfs’ sister, Barbara Elaine.

I do remember my mother frantically rushing in with relief because by then, of course, she knew I was missing. And I do remember how deliciously happy I was to get to finish out the year going to kindergarten and moving on to 1st grade the following year. And no I did not attend as Bobby Lane. Big girls who go to school get to use their real names.

Contributed by: Barbara Furlow

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