Raised as an only child, I never knew that kids were unkind to each other. I had just transferred to Tintic Elementary School from Salt Lake City where my widowed mom had tried to work full time to support us, and go to secretarial school. After experiencing problems with babysitters, she decided we’d move to rural Eureka to live with her mom, my grandma. (Photo l-r: me, Grandma, cousin Jody and her mom Esther-my aunt with cousin Marion in front.)
My new first grade teacher Mrs. Anderson welcomed me to school, but I soon discovered not everyone else was as nice. During recess two girls stopped me in the bathroom and wouldn’t let me return to class. Trying to make me stick my foot in the toilet, I had no idea how to handle this situation except to cry, which got me taunts of cry baby. Finally when the bell sounded, we all returned to class. I was silent about what had happened, fearful of my classmates’ retaliation. I had met my first bullies.
This vivid memory stayed with me, and was never resolved. Years later in junior high school, I would meet another bully in the form of a tall shy girl my own age who rode the same bus as I did. I never understood why she was so mean to me. When it was time for our 50th high school reunion recently, she contacted me via www.classmates.com to apologize for her unkind actions long ago forgotten by me. Through conversing with her through emails and a phone call, I began to remember and understand her misbehavior. It seems that she was taunted by other girls at school because she was the minister’s daughter. Then one day she decided out of frustration, after constantly being abused by classmates, to bully someone else. Unfortunately I was the one she chose. (Photo on right mom and me in Eureka.)
While traveling home after school, she had threatened me as we got off the bus. She said she could see immediately in my eyes––tears of fear and hurt, and that really stopped her. She didn't beat me up but only walked away, and had never forgotten that day. She didn't tell anyone about it and especially not her parents. We hadn’t talked about it even though we later went to four years of high school together, and carefully avoided each other. Now after years of feeling guilty about the incident, she apologized. Learning to grow up in a world of bullies wasn’t easy.