In the picture, I was eighteen and still naive to the world. Billy and I had been voted "MOST TALENTED". I stood there in my borrowed finery and did not feel bad that I did not have a long dress for the picture.
The so called professional photographer had me stand in front of the picture so that it looks as if flowers are growing from my head.
Growing up in rural Tennessee, I was unaware that we were what society considered "POOR". Most everyone were in the same boat but some folks had more than others.
Before I started school it never occurred to me that we were poor. I thought that was the way life was. At school, I learned of water running from a facet and that there was inside bathrooms. Wow what a luxury. I was in my second year of high school before we were fortunate to have inside plumbing.
In high school, Billy and I became very good friends. We would spend hours together on one project or another. We would draw, paint and laugh at each other. Only once, did he get upset with me and it was not when he wanted us to date and I refused as it would spoil our friendship, it was when I won first prize at the Tennessee Tech Art Show and my picture with ribbon was displayed.
You see he had had several years of formal art training and I had had none but still I won first prize and his picture did not even get mentioned. But he got over it and we continued a fast and steady friendship until he graduated and I have not seen him since. At the ten year class reunion, he was not there and I have not attended any other reunion.
The word was he is an Art teacher at the schools in Smith County. I really do not know this as a fact. But wherever he is I wish him blue skies and a very happy life.
He played the snare drums in our high school band and he was the Drum Major of the band our Senior year. We always had fun on our band trips. One such one, we went to Gatlinburg and we played at UT's stadium. I had never been to such a fun place and Billy, Gayle and I hung out together. At one point, Billy took me in hand and we dance a polka dance down the middle of the streets. Then he and Gayle did the same. We were all breathless and laughing.
As stated before, I was not aware that being poor was suppose to be a sad state of affairs until some girls and boys in high school would not associate with people who had come from the rural schools. These kids were called "the hill crowd". The high school sat upon a hill in town thus the name.
The black high school was torn down and the black teens came to our school my sophomore year. Mother had taught me to treat everyone as I wished to be treated, so I became fast friends with several of the black teens. I was always friendly and kind plus I was smart so "the hill crowd" could not keep me from moving ahead.
There was a new boy from Atlanta who came to our school junior year and all the girls were a gaga over him. My thoughts were I could care less about him as he would date one of the hill crowd or popular girls. Then one day as I was making my way to the next class and it was on the first floor and I was rushing down the stairs with Gayle, he came up and asked if I liked to go on a hay ride. I flippantly said "sure as I was only half listening and thought it was a joke.
Gayle was a popular girl and she passed me a note in the next class "Do you have a date with Don?" I told her "I did not know was there a hay ride?"
Sure enough there was a hay ride and my Dad told me never to accept a date unless I intended to go on it. When I told my Dad he was furious as he did not like hay rides for teens. I could not see the harm. Then he found out it was his old friend's son and it was okay. Don could have been a murder and because of who he was it was okay.
At the time,I did not care why Dad had said it was okay all I knew I was gonna get to go on my first hay ride. Don was very nice and by dating him "the hill crowd" let me join in with them at school. I was so naive I had no idea that by dating him, I was accepted. I just thought it was my friendliness and that I was smart and that they could not ignore. I was on the Honor Roll and in the Top Ten of the graduating class.
The end of my Senior year, I was sat straight how the real world was to be. If you were going to College and not to work as I was then you were still accepted. Even my so called boy friend Don ended it and everyone of the so called Hill Crowd did not include me or speak to me at the Senior Class Dance.
The Kitty Justice is that I learned then that only Billy of the hill crowd had been my true friend.
Now it does not hurt that people think they are smarter, richer or better than me I accept them as the phonies that they are. Maybe at times I am still naive forty years later.