The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Lesson In Poverty

By Carolyn Bertram © 1988

Issue: October, 1988

Until the eighth grade, I never realized I was poor. At our country school everyone dressed pretty much alike. But at this "town school" suddenly there were different categories. After comparing myself to the other kids, I knew I was on the low end of the totem pole.

Since the first day of school that year, I was jealous of Pamela. Even her name sounded sophisticated. No one was allowed to call her Pam.

Her long blonde hair was never messed up even after P.E. class. I remember wishing that just once her new fangled pantyhose would get a giant run, like my hose that were held up by those awful garter belts.

When our history teacher told us of days when most women made their dresses from feed sacks, Pamela giggled. I slumped in my chair and hoped no one would notice my bright, red flowered feed sack dress.