Petey Bob Starts to School 

and Falls In Love

Paul Marion Fleetwood

Copyright 2016 by  Paul Marion Fleetwood


 

Photo of school room.

      I was born near the beginning of the great depression in the Ripley County, Missouri, about ten miles North of the small town of Doniphan.   

     My mom named me Paul Marion after my uncle Paul and my dad Marion.  This seemed to be quite normal and satisfactory until I got old enough to start saying words.  Then for some unknown reason everytime mom would call me Paul, I would say uh-uh Bob.  Well this went on for some time according to mom until she and Dad just gave up and started calling me Bobby.
    But it didn't end there.  They still wanted me to be named after Uncle Paul.  His nick name was Pete. So I got stuck with the name Petey Bob and it stuck with me all the way through Grade School.  
    When I started to grade school my first time, I had to walk about a mile to the one room school house "Lone Star East".   My first teacher was Mr. Rogers whose first name was Mansell.  When I stood next to him I just came up to his knee.  He said he was afraid that I would break my neck when I looked up at him but we got along alright and he started me off in the Primer.  I mastered that pretty soon and was reading quite well before they put me in the first grade.
    In the meantime though I fell in love with another first grader.  Her nickname was "Toad".  Her real name was Lois but we always called her Toad.  Fortunately she was bigger than I because I needed her to protect me from the bigger boys who liked to pick on me.
    One day during recess just as the books bell rang, I took Toad by the hand and we stood behind a tree for a few seconds as I repeated the poem I had just learned. "Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her.  He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well".  Well, it was just true love after that but alas it didn't last very long.  My family moved about 60 miles away to the swamps of Northeast Arkansas.
    There were times though that we would return to Missouri to visit my Grandma and sometimes I would see Toad.  But mostly I would just see her dad when we went to town.  He always scared me because he had a crooked finger that was bent up at about 60 degrees. It was his pointing finger and he would point the crooked old thing at me and act like he didn't want me to see his little girl.
    I remember one day while I was in town standing in from of Lee's store when he was there shopping for supplies.  Most of us country people would buy groceries and dry goods and so forth at Lee's store.  It was a big brick store that was two stories tall.  He kept lots of carpets and furniture and stuff upstairs so it had that smell about it.  I was pretty familiar with the upstairs though because that's where the bathroom was.  
    Well anyway I got up enough nerve to ask Toad's dad, Mr Davis, if he would deliver some candy toToad and he finally agreed to do so.  Then I went in to Lee's and bought a nickel's worth of candy corn.  I divided it in half and gave half to him and I kept the other half for myself.  You know I never did find out if she got the candy but I always figured she did.  But I sure enjoyed my share!
    One day my dad took me with him to the grocery store.  The lady clerk asked him what my name was.  Dad told her "well we used to call him Petey Bob but when He turned 12 we cut the Petey off and now we just call him Bob.
    After we moved to Arkansas I didn't expect to ever attend Lone Star East again, but several years later and after several more moves, I ended up there for the last 6 weeks of my eighth grade.  In those days we graduated from the eighth grade before going to High School.  My teacher then was Miss Helen Boshears and there were just three people in the eighth grade.  For our celebration we three graduates and Miss Helen went on an outing and a picnic down by the creek and had a great time.
    Years later I dug out my old graduation report card and sure enough I graduated as Bobby instead of Paul.  I  think maybe I have a split personality.  Sometimes I feel like a Bob and sometimes I feel like a Paul.


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