The Great Gum Heist

Linda First GradeMy mother broke me from stealing. It’s just as well. I wasn’t any good at it anyway. She was having coffee with her friend, Miss Frankie. I was bored and used my ingenious ruse. “I gotta go to the bathroom.”

Mother warned me. “Okay, but don’t meddle and don’t touch anything!” No wonder I took a wrong turn. She never trusted me. I dawdled as I made my way to the bathroom off Miss Frankie’s bedroom. This was the 1950s. This wasn’t the master bathroom. It was the only bathroom in her Quonset hut with an add on in the back. Delightfully, for me, Miss Frankie was a relaxed housekeeper so I could see a lot without meddling. Clothes and shoes covered the floor. The open closet doors displayed shoe boxes, handbags, dresses, and nighties. I walked around in her red high heels while I surveyed the lipsticks, lotions, scarves, and a hairbrush decorating her dresser. I considered trying her lipstick when I spied an open pack of Dentyne Gum. Immediately, I peeled a piece and popped it in my mouth.

I shed the shoes. Chomping my gum happily, I strolled back in to join Mother and Miss Frankie at coffee. “What is that in your mouth?”


“Where’d you get it?”

“Uh…I found it….on Miss Frankie’s dresser.”

“You are not allowed to take things. That is stealing. Take it out of your mouth and tell Miss Frankie you’re sorry.”

i took the gooey wad out of my mouth and held it out to Miss Frankie. Reluctantly, she accepted it. “I’m sorry, Miss Frankie.” I’m sure she was, too.

“That’s okay , Honey.

That was the end of my stealing. I have never even wanted to steal again.


pig in slopI just get dirty. I don’t mean my shoes have little smudges. I look like I fell in the garbage every day. I don’t understand it. When I worked, I dressed and left the house just like everyone else. By the time I got to work, I had stepped in something, spilled coffee on myself, or rubbed up against something and gotten a spot on my clothes. As the day went on, I was sure to end up with ink spots on my hands and/or clothes and have a few spots. I sponged the worst off, but still got home a mess.
I wear my oldest clothes in the yard and make no effort to stay clean. After a few hours of digging, hauling, moving rocks, and planting, I look like I have been rolling in the mud. That doesn’t bother me in the least. When I am done working, I just drop the clothes in the washer, and get straight in the shower.
My mother and two of my sisters stay crisp and clean. Mother can wear white and work all day and look like she’s dressed for a garden party. My other sister is like me. She looks like she works on a garbage truck. What in the world do people do who stay clean? Is it magic?