Kids I knew Growing Up
Friends to Remember
Jerry was my friend. It made no difference that he may have come from the wrong side of the tracks, as some used to say. He wore old clothes and his shoes did not fit his feet. He had no socks most of the time and I gave him some of mine. He smelled funny sometimes, I suppose because he did not bathe, but who didn't smell strange in those days of playing in the dirt most of the time. Jerry used to show up at my house at many weird times. Some times early in the day or late in the evening, he would be there to talk or play. Later, we found out that his father drank and that he was escaping abusive behavior. At school, Jerry and I were buddies and played on the same ball teams. He was invited by my mother, who was the scout leader in our community, to come and join the cub scouts. It was about the same time that I met E.J., who was another kid who seemed to be thrown to the wind. He was a sad sack and always hanging around with Jerry and me at school. My mother saw his need for attention and food as well. She asked him to come to the scout meeting and see how he liked it. E.J.came, and then he was at every meeting afterward. He tried to earn his badges and took part in camp outs and weeny roasts, went fishing with us and took part in dress-up skits put on at our church. Jerry and E.J. were my best pals and we stuck together like glue. We were kids sharing our lives and growing up in the south. We got a good dose of that "Old Time Religion", by attending the Baptist Church and going to Sunbeams and choir and Sunday school.
E.J.had a wild acting brother who did not want to participate in scouts and come to church.He seemed to take delight in bullying other younger kids at school and was quite malicious in his behavior. E.J. did not want to stay around his brother and hung out with me and other members of our scout troop. His father also had a bad drinking problem and never seemed to care about his kids. My mother took E.J., Jerry, and any other child in need of parenting in to the fold. Perhaps it was the influence of her father and my grandfather who was a Baptist minister for more than sixty years in the area. Maybe it was the fact that she had such a good heart and cared about all kids. I look back on those days and realize that the two friends E.J. and Jerry lived in some of their most happy times with friends and grown ups who actually cared about them and their clothing, and if they got food to eat. Both boys grew up and I lost contact with them as adults. I never forgot about them and how they suffered at home and that we all matter in God's world.
Later in my life, with the help of E.J. and Jerry and other kids that I saw in need, I decided to give my life in helping them in any way that I could. My chosen field of study in college was working in Special Education and It was not long before I was in school and teaching kids with special needs. I spent more than twenty-five years in the classroom and worked with kids who had severe emotional adjustment problems,learning disabilities, and Behavior problems. I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do with my life. The greatest and most rewarding feeling that I could have ever gotten was when I saw the happiness and smiles of the many kids I was helping and making a difference in their lives. I saw in those kids eyes, the Jerry and E.J. that I had known in years gone by. I am truly blessed in being able to take part in making a difference and showing that people do have a heart and care for others in this life. I feel obligated in serving my Maker and showing Him that I was a good work.