Thursday, March 22, 2012

School Years Too Soon Gone

This is the fourth in the "Little Jo" series, repeated here by "popular demand."

Jo Ann really liked school in Mt. Vernon. It was a safe haven from the turmoil of her emotions, since she could get her mind, if but briefly, off the sadness she felt. And from the pressures her Grandmother put on her. “Granny” in her long black dress and black stockings, constantly harping on getting “saved,” dragging the child to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival meetings that went on and on forever. Would she ever get away from it all?

But school was interesting. She enjoyed reading and most of the teachers were interesting. The other kids not so much, but that was okay. Jo Ann was now thirteen and in junior high. Her sister, Donna had married at fifteen and already had two kids. A sudden feeling of panic gripped the young girl’s heart. Nadine is sixteen and she is talking about marriage. Am I going to have to get married soon? And why would I want to? And who would marry a plain little knucklehead like me anyway? I don’t even have a boyfriend.

That evening, she talked with Nadine about the thoughts she had been having. “But Jo Ann,” Nadine told her, “you are beautiful. Why would you say such things about yourself?” These were indeed reassuring words, but not unlike what she had been told before. Why must I always need to be told over and over that I am pretty or smart? she asked herself. I wish I could really believe it.
The boy next door. It is a cliché, but that is exactly who many girls marry. And so it was with Jo Ann. Jep lived not literally next door, but a couple of blocks over. Close enough. On a March day in her eighteenth year she stood with Jep in the parlor of the minister’s home and with the preacher’s wife as a witness, committed her life to a young man. The prospects looked bright. Things would have to be better than this life she had lived to this point.

© 2008 David W. Lacy


Shelly said...

This is an amazing story, and I find myself always wanting to read more at the end of your installments. Don't make us wait too long for the next chapter!

Vee said...

Too bad JoAnn didn't attend our very strict church where being there Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday evening, and revivals provided more opportunities to be with friends and play the silent hymnal page-turning game, "under the bed or between the sheets," right under the noses of all of those clueless people. But I'm sure she would never have been so naughty! :) (Did I just make a confession?)

vanilla said...

Shelly, I am happy that you are enjoying the tale. We'll wrap it up soon.

Vee, perhaps you did. What in the world are you talking about? I'm sure I was very attentive to the sermon, listening for flaws in pronunciation and grammatical constructions.

Anonymous said...

Why am I dreading the next chapter???

vanilla said...

Grace, don't be in dread. It's only a true-life tale, after all.


Sharkbytes said...

It's amazing how there was such an emphasis on getting married so early. But several of my friends married high-school sweethearts and made it work. Amazes me.

vanilla said...

Shark, things surely do change. My first wife and I were into our twenties when we wed; she was seen as virtually an "old maid." I have some acquaintances who've been together since high school as well.