Country Folks can be Quite Independent

Reader Contribution by Arkansas Girl

When I look back on some of the freedoms that we country folks enjoyed, I sort of pity city dwellers. We could be somewhat “free spirits,” to say the least. I remember that the reason my oldest brother and sister ended up in the same class and graduated from high school the same year is because my Mother held my brother back until my sister could start the school the next year. Now, that probably wouldn’t have happened in the school system up town, but we country folks made our own rules…pretty much!

And, for me, I was a year ahead of the class I should have been in…and I guess that’s why there were only boys in my class. I didn’t realize that I started to school before the “legal” age requirement until I graduated from high school. Hopefully, my time frame is factual. Here’s what I remember about my classmates’ ages. Most everybody else was already eighteen when we finished school. I was sixteen and turned seventeen before our commencement. My best friend’s birthday is June 1 – the same as mine, but a year ahead. When she turned 18 (in 1967), I turned 17. I had already graduated.
We were certainly independent as far as we could be, but the one thing we country folks didn’t have any control over was the consolidation of our school. When our enrollment dropped so pitifully low, the head administrators had no choice but to close our school. I was the only one in my class when the school closed.
But back to our independence. We country girls, unlike the girls in the city schools, could wear pants to class. In the fifties, “pedal pushers” were popular and they were my favorite pants. To this day, I still prefer pants over dresses. It was to my utter consternation, however, that once I went to the town school, I could no longer wear “what they called “men’s clothes.” I’m not sure where they got that idea, because there are women’s pants as well as men’s pants. But anyway, all girls had to wear dresses…no matter how cold the temperature. Boy, was I glad to finish school. Pants then became my “signature” wear.
On another note. When I was a kid, I never saw a “no trespassing” sign, and I’m glad we didn’t. People tramped pretty much where they wanted to go, and almost always when we had errands to run, we’d take the short cut across some body’s land. I’m not sure if that’s allowed now, but back then, it was perfectly fine. How much I long for those good, old days and life’s simple ways, but it seems like they’re gone forever.
  • Published on Apr 13, 2013
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