My early grades were spent in a three-room school learning from teachers who never went to college. It proved a challenge for them to keep up with me. Either my mouth questioned their dithery interpretations of our tattered textbooks, or I got to work writing twenty-five page book reports they found so tiresome they tossed them in the trash. I hindered my lay-about teachers from putting on airs and couldn’t wait for the day I moved on up to high school. Making matters worse, we lacked plumbing facilities and used outdoor toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls. The spiders worked my nerves almost as much as listening to the boys pee through a naked wall made of plywood.

My skin and bones classmates went without food for lunch and even I had little to spare. I left them in the dirt playground and spent recess every morning scrounging for food in the rich peoples’ houses where my invisible self slipped a pie, bread, peanut butter, and a bag of nuts from their pantries. We gathered in the fire escape at noon and ate the spoils without my suffering a bit of remorse.

Not being stupid, I knew the principal looked the other way due to Dad putting the fear of God into him if he should touch my body with a yardstick used for punishment. The advantage of having a South Pacific Marine Corp hero for a Dad helped to ease the burden of navigating an inequitable life. The only hardship was the Marine himself when his imagination returned to the frontlines, prompting me to run for cover.

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