The teachers at Limberlost were truly dedicated teachers, strict but kind, nurturing but not suffocating but best of all there was no Karen to compare me with. Gone was the trouble maker, enter the little boy who only wants to please the teachers, especially “My” teacher. I do not remember her name but she was the most beautiful woman in the world, as Oliver sings in the movie of the same name, I would have done anything for her.
She was not only beautiful, she was smart, knew everything and no other person could compare. To say I had a crush on her would be the understatement of the century. I have never worked so hard in my school career as I did for her and it showed, always at the top of my class. If only all my teachers had been like her I would have sailed through the tedious hours of school work and asked for more. It was not to be. The one good thing though was that I spent the whole day at school, only being fetched by mother after five in the afternoon, and when she was running late, my teacher who lived down the road used to take me home with her. I used to wish almost everyday that my mother would be late. I truly wish that I could remember her name, so as to be able to thank her for the best school year of my life. No other school year was to ever be as wonderful.
My first year at formal school was also the year that I turned six, an important mile stone for any child as two hands are now needed to show age. It seems that parents also believe that six is old enough to start shedding the irresponsibility of babyhood, so it was with my father. From the time that I was a baby, I had sucked my thumb, and dragged a blanket behind me held by the hand that had its thumb in my mouth, the blanket had been reduced to the size of a hankie by that time, but though I did not take it to school with me, it was always the first thing I ran to get as soon as Tina had calmed down and I never went to sleep without it.
When I had been about three, my mother used to despair as I would not allow anyone to take the blanket from me even to be washed and as it was all right for me to have it with me at nursery school I always had it with me. Fortunately for my mother, my father imported a Bendix washing machine for her from Germany, with a glass window in front so that one could watch the laundry while it was being washed. Very like the modern automatic washing machine. Most, if not all washing machines of the day were what are called twin tubs today with a wringer attached to the top to dry clothes before hanging them on the washing line.
So a compromise was reached whereby I sat in front of the washing machine while the blanket was washed and watched it as avidly as kids today watch television. Then I would sit under the blanket when it was put out to dry on the washing line. My father was not very fond of the idea that I sucked my thumb and had tried everything from shaming me in front of relatives and friends to lecturing me at length that it was a sissy thing to do and not at all manly.
Then in this year of my sixth birthday he struck on a new idea, a bet. He bet me that I would not stop sucking my thumb and I bet that I would for the princely sum of thirty Rand. The bet would commence on my sixth birthday and I would have won if I had not sucked my thumb on the nineteenth of December, five days before Christmas. If I lost I would not get any Christmas presents that year, talk about an incentive. On the morning of my birthday I solemnly handed over the piece of blanket that, I had had since I was brought home from the nursing home, and we shook hands to validate the bet.
Lots of Hugs and more,