This non-fiction story was told to me by some of my wife's relatives. It's about a high school girl living in a very rural farming community in northeast Texas during the early 1940s.
Jeanetter and her cousin, Allie, who lived farther away, had to walk through the woods and prairies to get to the school bus stop. Usually they retrieved their "roll-your-own cigarette" makings from a tree stump near the bus stop so they could smoke one while waiting on the bus. Jeanetter's little sister, Pajamae, was with them waiting to go to school when they had her take a draw and asked her not to tell.
One morning their matches got wet, so they asked the bus driver for a light. They should have asked him to take a draw, because he snitched to the principal that they had smoked on the bus.
On the last day of school that year, Jeanetter decided to have a little fun on a dull bus ride and celebrate the last day of school. Jeanetter had never gotten into any big trouble, although she could have been described as a leader of a pack because of her charismatic and fun personality. Plus, she could keep things moving. She was also well liked, one reason being she was never condescending and everyone just naturally wanted to do what she was doing.
Jeanetter and Allie started physically tearing up the seats in the bus, with the other riders joining in, some even sticking the planks out the window. Pajamae was embarrassed about the planks sticking out the windows, because passers-by could see. However, she happened to have a sack of marshmallows she had bought in town and took out the stuffing from the seats.
She then built a small fire on the floor and was roasting marshmallows when the bus driver eventually smelled the smoke and stopped the bus. Pajamae had always been a model child and the only explanation was of her loyalty to her older sister, as they were from a very close-knit family. She knew her sister would fight a circle-saw for her.
At first the bus driver became livid and used a few choice words after putting out the fire, but remembering his days as a strapping young boy, plus the fact that he admired the girls' parents and legendary grandfather so much, he decided to solve the problem by requesting that the participants walk the remaining distance to their homes.
The bus driver, who was an independent contractor, ultimately repaired the seats himself. Later, he laughed about it, and just kept their little secret, so as not to have any more trouble. The girls had their day and memories that will be everlasting.
By the way, "Pajamae" is my wife.
Clarence Calaway is a resident of the Calallen-Annaville area and a regular contributor on this page. Readers may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.