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Some Kids I Have Known
What’s in That Main Stream?


My grandmother’s back yard was small but for me it was always pleasant. Paul Scarlett red roses grew on the fence along with sweet smelling Honeysuckle. Privet hedge immediately out the back door lent its aromatic nostril-tweeking, also. Birds of every kind made the restful place their own. A giant tree stood with sprawling branches to create a canopy over the entire space and tiny berries from the neighbor’s Hackberry tree were part of what drew the squirrels as they frolicked, like spoiled children, up and down the trucks of the trees.

On this day, so long ago, there was a break from everything peaceful. My little sister stood on the small cement patio directly outside the back door and she was crying. Always small and thin she was the youngest of all the children and sometimes was left out as the often greedy, older children made their demands answered simply by being the “squeaky wheel.” Her delicate spirit and quiet ways made her the child that was often over looked when it came to owning toys. However, somehow she possessed a doll that always rested in the crook of her arm. It was her, one, true possession. The only child who lived next door was my sister’s playmate. This little girl was pampered as only children can be. There was no end to the many playthings she possessed but, as is often the case, the child’s eyes had fallen on the doll so lovingly cradled in her friend’s arm. A pulling contest between the two children ripped one of the doll’s legs from its body and stuffing came pouring out of its body.

The tears my little sister cried were so heart rending but what could I possibly do to slow her grief? It was then, my grandfather stepped out of the back door and came down the steps to where this small play was being acted out.

Of course, Grandfather was so admired by his granddaughters. He was tall and had delicate, handsome, fine-features. His manners were impeccable and this made us believe that he had, indeed, been raised at a hacienda in Mexico where servants combed his hair and dressed him until he was sixteen. The ring on his long tapering fingers held the crest of his Spanish family. It was with this ring he sealed the wax on the back of the letters he sent home and that same crest appeared again on letters he received. He was the only one who could read the elegant, flowing letters which held penmanship all in Spanish.

Now Grandfather was reaching down for my sister’s doll.

“Don’t cry, Sweetheart!” He spoke with perfect English. “Let me see your little dollie?” And all the while he was soothing my sister’s sadness because of her loss he was also pulling needle and thread from his pocket.

His fingers with their manicured nails were pushing the doll’s stuffing back in place. As soon as the doll was put together again he carefully took needle and threat and stiched the torn places on the toy. We never heard Grandfather speak his Native language all in the interest that we not be separated and taken out of the “main-stream.”

One of us observed later in life and lamented. “I wonder what was in that main- stream?”

And so it is, today. I often watch and listen to comments made by those who cry about someone speaking another language in their midst. My mind goes back to the soft Ponca language my grandmother spoke so fluently even though that was only when her sisters came to visit. Somehow or another, I feel sad that is all gone. But the saddest thing was; I never learned my Grandfather’s native language, Spanish. Now as Mother, the last bridge to the Ponca language, will soon be gone, I guess we will, for sure, finally be, in that “main-stream.”


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