The Girl Who Was a Persona Non Grata, Part V
They Called Her Rag Doll
I and Cassandra Wilmington were ejected out of Miss Hilliard's class, waiting anxiously in the hallway. Several pupils passed us by, saying nothing. Then Miss Hilliard appeared in the hallway, motioning us to go with her to Dr. Sorenson's office. She appeared annoyed and distressed simultaneously.
When Dr. Sorenson saw us, he was utterly surprised as we were one of the best and more behaved pupils in the school. Miss Hilliard explained to Dr. Sorenson that she was surprised at us, defending a total miscreant such as Hope Cairn. Dr. Sorenson listened quite attentively as Miss Hilliard further elaborated what happened in her class regarding Hope. Dr. Sorenson then lectured us quite sternly, stating that Hope Cairn is nothing but trouble and there was no future association with ilk such as her. I and Cassandra were completely flabbergasted at such a remark, especially coming from a highly educated person such as the principal.
Miss Hilliard smiled, knowing that Dr. Sorenson would always defend her and take her side, right or wrong. We were speechless at the injustice done to Hope. Hope was not even summoned to the principal's office to defend herself. Hope was totally in a precarious Catch-22 situation with Miss Hilliard and Dr. Sorenson as well as with most of the pupils.
I and Cassandra decided that Hope was never going to be alone from now on. Class decided to break for lunch. Barbara, Xenobie, Madolyn, and her other favorites walked up to me, announcing with pleasure that I was NO longer part of her group. I said nothing but walked away, joining Cassandra and Hope for lunch. Barbara elected to follow me, saying that I could kiss my summer trips with her family goodbye! She then added see what the Cairn family could do for me. She then burst into malcious laughter, abruptly walking away!
Cassandra pulled me aside, telling me to ignore Barbara. She hugged me, begging me to join her and Hope for lunch. Hope had a continuously arduous battle with Miss Hilliard, Barbara, and most of the students in 4th grade. However, she was the better for it. Despite the misgivings of Miss Hilliard, Hope finally made the honor roll. She was the sixth smartest person in the class. She felt elated and on top of the world for the first time in her life! Nothing and no one was going to deter her ever!
The 1961/1962 school season ended. It was summer 1962 and all of us were making plans. I was going to spend my summer with my maternal grandparents in Long Beach, California while Cassandra was going to spend her summer with her paternal grandparents in Southhampton, New York- and she invited Hope to go with her! Of course, Hope and her father were elated!
It was fall of 1962. We all felt sophisticated because we were entering the 5th grade. Our teacher was Miss Bruce, a junosque, straightforward teacher. Miss Bruce was different from most of the teachers at the school in that she came from an impoverished background. She was born on the Lower East Side section in New York City. She had to earn anything she obtained. She had quite a disdain for wealthy children who she believed had it too easy.
Miss Bruce was an extremely strict but fair teacher. She did not treat one pupil better than another-all were equal in her eyes. Of course, Barbara and her favorites did not like this equal treatment one bit. However, this was not Miss Bruce's concern. All she was concerned with was the proper education of her pupils.
A new pupil was in our 5th grade class. Her name was Collette Tyler. She was a singer with solo albums. Even though she was a celebrity, her beginnings were what one could describe as very lower middle class. It was common knowledge that she was the sole support of her parents and five siblings. Her talent was considered prodigious;she was often compared to a very young Judy Garland- that is how GOOD her voice was, Of course, this resulted in immense jealously among the girl pupils, especially Barbara and her favorites. Barbara's "A" status is about to be toppled.
Miss Bruce saw something of herself in Collette. Collette was bold and straightforward in addition to being so prodigiously smart. She was so smart, her parents were summoned to the school, asking if they wanted Collette to skip a grade being so brilliant. Her parents indicated that the decision was entirely up to Collette; however, she declined. In fact, Collette's intellect was so maddeningly brilliant that she could easily skip three grades and still be quite proficient in class!
Barbara saw Collette as her direct competition. Barbara and Collette became mortal enemies. Collette being a girl from the streets, smelled blood and liked it! Only one kid is going to be numero uno and the star- it is not going to be dear Barbara! Collette and Barbara competed for everything whether it was friends, grades, or being the leader! The competition suddenly escalated into quite a bloody fight!
The girl from the East Village via Park Avenue was competing with the girl from Sutton Place. Collette looked at Barbara, knowing that this tough kid will whip the stuffing out of pampered princess Barbara. The physical altercation was on. The rest of the pupils gathered in the schoolyard. Barbara went up to Collette, pulling her black curly hair. Collette strongly disliked anyone touching her hair as this was one of her celebrity trademarks. She retaliated by punching Barbara hard in the nose. Barbara fell into the ground, sobbing uncontrollably! The other wealthier girls came to Barbara's aid, picking her up and soothing her.
Naturally, the incident was reported to Dr. Sorenson. He sternly addressed both Barbara and Collette, stating that such behavior was totally unladylike and unbefitting for young ladies. He ordered them to apologize to each other but to no avail. He repeatedly demanded that they apologize but again to no avail. He then ordered both girls to remain in the office until they decide to apologize. Collette tersely replied when hell freezes over. At time, the principal's face turned completely ashen! Collette just glared at him, not uttering a single word-just stony silence!
For what seemed like indeterminable hours, Dr. Sorenson told Barbara and Collette to leave his office. Neither one apologized to the other. Instead, their competition with each other grew fiercer and more intense. Collette decided to gather some followers, no friends for her group. She decided to invite Hope to be her "friend". She did anything possible to ingratiate herself to Hope, hoping to be her "friend."
Every time Collette saw Hope, she complimented her on her beauty, intelligence, and spunk. The other girls under Collette's tutelage clearly do not want Hope to be in their group. Even though most of the girls in the group were lower middle class, Hope was clearly LOWER class. She would be a hindrance to the group; however, Collette strongly and forcibly discounted what the girls stated, inviting Hope in their group. Hope seemed delighted that a large group of girls besides I and Cassandra were beginning to like her.
However, I discovered that Collette was using Hope to get revenge on Barbara. In other words, Hope was used in Collette's game of upmanship with Barbara. For the remaining 5th grade year, Collette would be so insidiously nice to Hope, building up her confidence in order to make her mallable. Hope fell for Collette's line completely although I and Cassandra warned her against being friendly with the likes of Collette. Collette was the taipan to Barbara's king cobra......