Living in Jenny Lind all my life…to me as a seven year-old, Hardscrabble was just a word. That is until the summer of 1935, thanks to my second grade teacher, Ms. Agnes Minton, I learned that Hardscrabble was a place…a real place, where on that day I met a life-long friend.
How far is Hardscrabble from New Jenny Lind? Not very far, but back than it could have been miles away as far as I was concerned.
You see…when I was growing up, the Company Store and my Grandma Evans’ place, which was a short distance from our house one direction, the bottom of Howard Hill where my Grandma Price lived and Mr. Moschner’s strawberry patch, a “stone’s throw from Coppic’s house the other direction…and across the railroad tracks to Elliott’s the other direction was about as far as Mama ever gave her consent for my sister and me to explore summer entertainment from our front yard since walking was our mode of travel getting there.
Although my memory of Hardscrabble is sketchy, I do remember the rocky ride in Ms. Minton’s (green) car and I remember being afraid going across the low-water bridge.
I remember well, meeting…for the first time my new friend, Thelma Opal Black (better known as “Kewpie”).
Over the years, “Kewpie” and I would talk about that day and our first meeting, remembering bits and pieces. She knew the place called Hardscrabble like I knew Jenny Lind.
This is the way it all came about:
Jenny Lind School had just closed, but Hardscrabble was still in session and Ms. Minton was teaching.
Our school had presented a play on the last day of school. I remember having a part in the play and wearing a pink satin-like costume. (Maybe I was an angel? Or a fairy?) Ms. Minton had sponsored the play I suppose. I remember how proud I was when she told me I could keep my costume.
Ms. Minton passed our house every day. One evening she stopped and asked if I would like to visit Hardscrabble with her the next day. I remember being excited and journey-proud. She also suggested I might want to wear my play costume. I’m pretty sure Mama suggested otherwise, but I do remember wearing my pretty pink angel?, fairy? costume. “Kewpie” also remembered. More times than one we talked about our first meeting and that place called Hardscrabble. Her memory was much better than mine and her story never changed…and I never interrupted her when she told her side of our first meeting, especially her memory of me.
“Kewpie” told me she would never forget that day.
She said she remembered when she and the other kids saw me getting out of Ms. Minton’s car, they all came running to meet me. They thought I was a movie star…like Shirley Temple, all dressed up in my pretty pink play costume.
What a sight that must have been.
By the way, I just learned by checking the dictionary that HARDSCRABBLE is a word…a word of great meaning; along with being a place…a place of great memories, if you’re seven years old…or eighty-five.