DIFFICULT RECORD TO BEAT – These three Carleton Place pupils can boast an all-time record for school attendance. They are, left to right, Clinton, Marlene and Elwood Drader, children of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Drader. Clinton has four years to his credit, while Marlene completed nine and Elwood (Joe) has seven straight years. In all, they have 20 consecutive years of perfect attendance to their credit. White attending high school Marlene was an outstanding track star, while Joe’s hockey ability is attracting attention from several junior coaches in Ontario- September 7, 1953.
When I read one of my friend’s essays last night I felt the pain in every single word she wrote. Looking back at her life she felt she was never one of the cool kids in school and sadly I felt the same way.
I got blacklisted in grade one when Mrs. Dougherty told the class that if they had been quiet like Linda, they would not have missed recess. It was the ultimate kiss of death for most of my elementary school years and I never lived it down. After that when the teacher asked who was talking while she was writing on the board I raised my hand thinking it might change my reputation if I took the blame.
I was the kid that came to school on time, did not talk much in class, and smiled at everyone like a rabid beaver. I sat in my seat worshiping the cool kids, the smart kids, and the ones I lusted to be.
Some of us could never be pretty like Jill Smith who got all A’s on her report card. As much as I tried I knew I would never speak with million dollar words like Bobby Piers. Dragging a personal large caboose I would never excel in sports like Marianne Trent. Linda would forever be labeled as the one that almost failed gym.
Average in school, except for writing, I failed math every single year after my mother died in grade seven. One year it was so bad, I only got twenty nine out of two hundred and my father queried if they also gave me marks for neatness.
All I wanted to do was hang out in the cool kids group, but instead I was an oddball, and the older I got, the stranger I became. I began wearing my clothing designs at the age of thirteen and hung around with the French Canadian kids after school. The latter was enough to spread rumours through church that some girls in the parish were ‘loose’ and hanging around with the wrong kind.
After deciding early on I was going to become a fashion designer, I was ridiculed by my peers. They told me the only occupations women could achieve were teachers or nurses. Thinking possibly about joining an up and coming occupation called, “a stewardess” they also mentioned I might be too large to fit in the aisles of a TCA plane.
At the school dances even the Buddy Holly look alike who was ten years older than everyone else would not even ask me to dance. In grade ten I had enough, left school, and dropped seventy five pounds. All of a sudden High School guys who had never shown interest in me wanted to date. I refused, solely on the premises that they had been bullies to me and my friends in school.
I went to Montreal after I left school and studied to become a fashion designer. Proudly working at the very first Le Chateau store on St. Catherine Street I even tried to hang out with “their” cool kids. Still not good enough for them either because I would not wear pants that dragged on the ground and smoke pot I became annoyed. Who were these people who continued to think that they were better than everyone else? Then and there I stopped desiring to be a cool kid and decided just to be myself. I followed that rule for the rest of my life and never looked back.
Twenty years ago I was invited to go back to a reunion at Cowansville High School. I decided that life had been difficult enough in school that there was no sense in dragging it back into adulthood. My late sister did go, and came home early, quite annoyed. When I asked her why she was so flustered she looked at me straight in the face and said,
“Linda, no one wanted to hear what I was doing. Everyone kept asking me where you were, and what you were doing! They drove me nuts with their chatter, so I came home.”
I started to laugh and began to wonder if maybe all of us were really cool kids in school and we just never figured it out. In the end maybe it was a good thing, because we learned to love ourselves and realized we did not need the acceptance of others to get by.
Notes from the Peanut Gallery:
I hear you! When I joined Facebook, I reveled in the fact that no one is looking for me.
Look at those salaries– 1958!