Say It Isn't So

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The year at school when the first bomb went off turned out to be one of the sickest years on record for me. I still have all my report cards, which is another kind of sickness. Maybe it was psychosomatic, due to the fear now associated with my potentially lethal education. I believe that I had a much bigger fear than that though. As in "Daddy, why don't we have a bomb shelter built in the basement?" kind of fear. The Bay of Pigs hadn't happenned yet, but back then everybody was acutely aware of the impending possibility of instant obliteration. Bombs in mailboxes were small potatoes in comparison. That greater fear was probably one of the greatest lead ins to the "Make Love, Not War" school of thought. Anyway that is for a future blog, maybe.

I got the chicken pox, a most unpleasant condition. This attack of the varicella-zoster virus confers a lifelong immunity (good!) but remains dormant within nerve tissues and may cause herpes zoster, aka shingles, later in life (bad!). Also came the German measles, aka rubella. This was really no big deal physically, except that I was too sick, or should I say contagious, to go and spend the weekend with my cousins in the Eastern Townships. It was more of an emotional blow which was also easy to get over.

The worst of it all was the tonsillitus. The doctor would come, give me some penicillin and some sulfur stuff to ingest. My Mom would have to hide these pills inside of mashed bananas because I could not put a pill in my mouth and swallow it. I had some kind of mental black about that. Even used to chew aspirin which I loved the taste of. Anyway, the tonsillitus would go away and then it would come back a few weeks later. The doctor, still making house calls, would dutifully dole out the same medicine but try other ways to get it inside me. Like needles. Ouch! Everybody was telling me that I needed to have my tonsils removed, but I was having nothing of it. "God gave me these tonsils for a reason and I'm keeping them!" was my response.

All in all, I was absent 20 days from school that year. But I do remember it as a good year. I was in a new school, with new friends. My Mother let me have a hallowe'en party that year. I invited all my new friends and other neighbourhood pals. I got dressed up in a rather strange costume for it, sort of a 'princess meets chipmunk' outfit (see photo). I went out the back door when people started to show up and I walked around the block, rang the doorbell, and arrived at the party. We were all sitting around the living room and every one kept saying "Where's Mary". I had to keep quiet because my voice would be a dead giveaway. My voice has something to do with the nickname "Mouse". My Mom kept saying " Oh, she's around here somewhere." But I had to give up the ghost soon enough. Even a mouse can only keep quiet for so long.


At 12:57 PM, October 17, 2005, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

I cannot recall ever having missed 20 days of school, but then again, I got chicken-pox fairly early and never had the Measles or any of those other wonderful little buggers. Thank you Dr Jonas Salk and all of his contemporaries.

At 11:18 PM, October 21, 2005, Blogger Amy Byrd said...

Oh, Mouse.... I grinned out loud (if there is such a thing) at your description of how you arrived at your own party. hahaha. TOO sweet!

First grade was a bad year for me. We lived in Germany and I think I missed about a third of the year. I had everything you mentioned. But I did have my tonsils taken out. I remember being in the hospital with pneumonia and having young G.I.'s come in three times a day to give me a shot of penicillin. ugh. I think my little butt cheeks were the size of place to stick!

I like reading your stories. They carry me back and I like it.

At 11:35 AM, October 22, 2005, Blogger mouse said...

Hi Lady Byrd! Yeah, I remember the sore butt cheeks, and the dread before the shot. Germany eh, were you a military brat?


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