more memories of my life

family wo lou mel 3

The next three years I attended Clark School up town. It was a hike for David and me and we often walked home for lunch too. Some days mom gave us a ride but for the most part, we hoofed it. I’m guessing it was about 2-3 miles but that’s from a little girl’s memory. [I really should go measure it sometime because I do know this: it was up hill both ways.] It was far enough that by the time we got to the train tracks we often made some very poor choices and climbed over, under or ran in front of moving trains. They served lunch in the new cafeteria and we ate there lots of times, too, which turned out to be a lot safer for us.

smith kids w-o carol

By this time I was, of course 10-12 years old. I’m pretty sure I knew everything. I knew I was cool, popular, smart, pretty and clever. And I tried to prove it on a daily basis. I was in the cool crowd. Colleen Jones, Bonnie Thornhill, Diana Sather, Bonnie Crompton. Marianne Harris. And me. I felt so important. Important enough to start a little bit of rebellion with my parents. Fourth grade was a breeze. I continued to love learning and proving that I was a good student. I loved having all my homework done and I loved being at the top of the class. I loved all my clothes. I loved my blonde hair. I loved being a smart aleck. I loved testing my parents. I’m not sure why things started heading in that direction, but they did. Oh, I had lots of fun and lots of lovable moments with my family, too, but for some reason my friends started becoming more important than my family. By the sixth grade I was totally acting out. I wanted to stay at Colleen’s house more than I wanted to be at home.

dorothy 2

Fifth grade I had Mrs. Zemp and that was the year we learned all of the states and capitals. Little did they know that we had already learned those at home. We memorized so many things:  states, counties, multiplication tables, the alphabet backwards, the planets, the presidents, the presidents of the Church. Memorizing and reciting was one of the things I felt I had in common with dad. And mom loved [I guess — because she sure did it a lot!] helping me with homework. She stayed up late all through middle school and high school studying with me. My favorite subject by then was math. Mom made solving story problems so fun. She’d explain them to me so that I could totally get it! I got it! Then I started loving English. I loved writing papers and I loved grammar, I loved subjects and predicates. I loved pronouns. I loved speaking correctly. To this day it just grinds on my nerves to hear someone say, “Lyndee and me went to the races.” Or, “We put the account in Richard and I’s name.” WHAT? Holy cow!!! I’m far from perfect, but I try to speak correctly. OK, sometimes I’m lazy about the whole thing, too. Texting and email have made us all lazy.

The one thing I remember in the sixth grade was that our teacher continually stuck her big Vicks-drenched finger up her nose. Both nostrils. She’d open the jar, sit the lid on her desk, bury her pointer finger in the salve, and stick it up her nostril. Repeat with the other nostril. Oh my gosh, I still remember it vividly. She never once turned her back to us or excused herself to go to the girls’ room. It was, “All right, let’s get out our science texts and open them up to [plunge, stuff, switch, stuff, sniff it up to her brains] page 43 and read about mushrooms and other fungi.” Yuck. Odd that out of a whole year in her class that’s what I remember most.

I got in trouble that year because she was also continually drinking hot chocolate in front of us. One day we shaved some chocolate X-Lax into her canister. She noticed the shavings and sent us to the office for the paddling of our lives.

twins eil rob

I also loved PE my three years at Clark. I did all of the calisthenics pretending I was a cheer leader. Thinking back, I must have been the most obnoxious and unlikable little brat. I’m wondering now how I ever survived. Why didn’t someone in my family just drop me off in the mountains somewhere? I remember arguing with dad one day and kicking him right in the shin. Oh, my gosh. Some of these are memories I’m not completely fond of. I remember being insanely jealous of Eileen because she could bake a pie when she was about 12 years old and it seemed to me that Mom like her more than she like me because of that single pie-making success. And I found Rob to be the most annoying little brother. He had quite a lot of musical and rhythmic talents and he demonstrated them simultaneously, quite often, in the form of pounding two butter knives on the stove in a long symphony of drummer madness. That’s all I remember. I remember them bringing him home from the hospital and then ten years of drumming on the stove. I’d get furious with both Eileen and Diane for ‘borrowing’ my things. We had more than a few fist fights. One day I broke a hairbrush over David’s head because he’d done something I thought was totally wrong. Another time I stabbed him with a pencil and they had to dig the lead out of his rear-end. It was crazy. Just crazy. How mom survived us all is beyond me! [Ingterpretation: How mom survived me, is beyond me!] See. Not good memories, or the feelings that go along with them. Of course, I feel completely different about all of my siblings now. I’ve finally grown up and love them all dearly!

Jr. High was a big adjustment. As you might expect, all of a sudden boys were important. I had huge crushes and huge disappointments. Puberty came with all the associated extremes of emotions, tears, outbursts, apologies, the silent treatment, and finally a little peace. Then it started all over again. I was in student government and continued getting good grades. I was on the honor roll all through Jr. High and High School and in fact, graduated close to the top of my class. My friends were ‘everything’ to me and as a result, my family, my Church and everything else slid downward. It was a tumultuous time for everyone around me.

Two things stick out during this time. One good, the other odd. I remember one Sunday dad was substituting in my Sunday School class. He had recently been to the temple and had experienced an amazing faith-building situation in the baptistry. They had finished up the baptisms and were getting ready to leave when they heard someone crying. They looked around and couldn’t see anyone so continued readying themselves to leave. Again, they heard the crying. They surmised they had left someone out of the ordinances and went through the cards. They went through the cards again and this time found two card stuck together and, thus, a girl who had not gotten her saving ordinances completed. They re-entered the water and finished her work. He told us about it and bore testimony of all that was in his heart. I remember seeing him differently that day. I still cherish that memory.

I also remember collecting fast offerings. Yes, that was highly unusual. Dad was the bishop and there weren’t enough Decons to do the job, so he had me collect around our two blocks. People can’t believe it, now, when I tell them that. It really was an odd set of circumstances.

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