The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Bringing Janie Home

By Lois S. Poff © 1992

Issue: April, 1992

My sister, little brother and I should have known better than to take Janie home with us from that little one-room school which we attended back in 1921, especially after all that head lice trouble. We were only six, seven and eight years old and our sisters had brought friends home from the high school. We thought company was fun. Our mother could cook the best meals and we got to eat out of those pretty dishes in the dining room.

Getting the head lice was not our fault, but when our mother saw them on our heads, she really got upset. She wanted to know had we been over there at that school wearing other people's caps. Sure enough, we had and we told her so. When Mr. Lawrence, the teacher, was outside with the big boys on cold days, the big girls would play games with us in the school house. We were playing "Blind Man's Bluff' when we got the head lice. A large girl who was supervising the game would put her cap on our heads and pull it down over our eyes when we were the blind man. At that time I didn't know there was such a thing as a head louse.

My mother got rid of the things in a hurry. She combed kerosene through our hair to kill them. They had got in the beds, but she had a big cast iron wash boiler that fit over the fire box in her wood cook stove that she boiled clothes in. She lectured to us about "catching things" and I believe she thought she had us pretty well educated along that line and then we brought Janie home.

We had seen where Janie lived. We had walked through the woods way over to her house one day at noon recess. Janie knew the way. We only went in sight of the house for we had to hurry to get back to school before Mr. Lawrence "took up books."

Janie had never seen where we lived and she wanted to go home with us. Her older brother didn't want her to go but the four of us stood out at the old rail fence and begged and begged until he finally told her to go on. I thought my mother would be delighted to see her. She was so smart and pretty and had on a new orange dress that I had so admired.

When we got about half way home, up on top of the hill, we passed a big rock with red rock bells (Columbine) blooming on it. My sister ran over to them, started picking them and said, "Let's take Mamma some of these pretty flowers so she won't be mad at us for bringing Janie home." It was then I realized we might be doing the wrong thing and I wished Janie wasn't along.

After we got down the hill, through the fence and out in the highway to walk in home, I missed my sister. I looked back and she was walking real slow. I decided that was her way of getting out of it all, so I just stopped, waited for her and walked with her. My little brother walked on in home with Janie. They were both in the first grade.

My sister and I poked around sort of dreading to go in the house. When we did go in, they were all gathered in the front hall, talking. When my sister saw that our mother was angry, she slipped off upstairs and hid. I decided if she could get out of it by disappearing, I would disappear too, so I got behind the front door.

It was too far to take Janie home so my mother had one of my older sisters to take her part of the way home to spend the night with a family who were friends to Janie's family. After they got gone, my mother got us out of our hiding places and gave us a whipping and we deserved it too.