(Using my last name in place of the
word "world", is not a typo. It's just me being clever.)
In May of 1951 my class had just
finished the sixth grade. Going through six years of school at
Alderson Elementary had given me some degree of security in knowing
who I was and what I was doing in this world. After all, those six
years were at the same school, but this graduation was something
different. We were going up to the high school building, to run with
the "big dogs" and that was a very uncomfortable feeling for me.
That year as a seventh grader was horrible. Suddenly all that
experience in elementary school was no longer there and I remember
feeling totally helpless. I didn't know what I was doing and what's
more, I was even afraid to ask. Later on, when I learned what the
word paranoid meant, I realized I resembled that definition. As time
went on most of that insecurity had disappeared and I was finally
beginning to feel comfortable.
One of our classes was Social Studies and the class was held in the
same room that H. Roger McVey taught Chemistry, and Woody Bower
taught Biology. Our Social Studies teacher was Miss Hallie Jones,
and she was an imposing figure. As students, most of us hadn't
reached our full height and I recall Miss Jones was taller and
bigger than we were. Most of the time I remember her being a very
nice person. I saw her at my mother's beauty shop, around town, and
at the Baptist Church at some youth meetings.
One of those meetings was a Halloween party which Miss Jones was the
chaperone and it was held in the basement of the church. Miss Jones
had an older sister who was there helping out. She had on a witches
costume with a black handkerchief over her face that with the black
pointed hat you could only see her eyes. A dance had just started
and kids were picking partners. I ran over and said to Miss Jones'
sister, "Come on you old hag, lets dance". I remember seeing her
eyes peering at me thru that mask as we were dancing. Little did I
know it was an omen to what would come later.
On a funnier note, Miss Hallie will probably be remembered by the
fact of carrying a Christmas present around in the back window of
her car for many years. Everyone would ask her about the present and
she said she never got around to delivering it and it was now too
As I stated Miss Jones was a very nice person, but there was a time
when I didn't think so. One day, just as we were entering the class
room, students were taking their seats. As I entered the room,
unknowing to me, my friend Davy Fisher had just pushed Jim Meadows'
books on to the floor. Davy called to me and said, "Barry, sit
here", and I did. Jim returned to his desk, in which I was now
sitting, saw his books on the floor, grabbed me, lifting me out of
the seat, and started to twist my arm. Miss Jones, observing this
scene from her desk came over where we were and slapped my face. I'm
standing there wondering, "Why is Jim twisting my arm?" " Why is
Miss Jones slapping me in the face?" Needless to say I was surprised
and felt as if the most unjust thing in the world had just happened
to me. It wasn't till later that I sorted the whole thing out. Like
me, Miss Jones did not see Davy push Jim's books on to the floor.
She just saw the books on the floor and Jim twisting my arm, putting
the oblivious conclusion together and came over and slapped me. I
can only attribute it to frustration with having to putting up with
I deliberately didn't speak to Miss Jones for a long time after
that, however I got over it and we were cordial again. I don't think
that day was ever discussed between us, and although I know what
really happened, I'm not sure if she ever did.