“We marched every
where.” Mother began one of her stories about her boarding school,
Chilocco, she attended when she was a girl. “I was a Captain and
responsible for my own platoon. We had girls from every tribe from
Seminoles to Cheyenne. The Seminole girls had a hard time keeping in
step. I don’t know why. It might have been the way they had lived in
the swamps. I’m sure they didn’t just march straight ahead there. The
alligators and snakes would have been something to consider.
Oh, I don’t know what
it was that made them have a hard time marching. There was one girl I
remember who was very tall. When she was out of step her height made
her so obvious. Every time I looked around there she was with one foot
thrown out to the side. No matter how much we yelled at her she still
couldn’t march. Finally I just gave up and put her to the back of the
line so I wasn’t able to notice her marching so much. The ranks above
us must have been looking the other way, too, because everyone ignored
Mother continued. “One
day we were all in place, ready to march back to the building from
chow hall. Shirley was in my platoon. She was such a little doll all
the boys were always trying to get her attention. She had a grin as
wide as her face while she was waving at her boyfriend. I just ignored
her. She was so cute, really, no one could find anything wrong with
The girls were still
lined up inside the lobby at Home Five waiting for their morning,
uniform inspection by Ms. M.
“Now girls!” Ms. M. had
earned the nickname, ‘Mrs. Broom.”
“Now girls!” She was
strong in her readiness to reprimand them.
“We can’t have any
breaking of the rules while in line. Shirley, who were you shaking
A quick ripple of
questioning expressions ran through the platoon. Every girl’s eyes
were widened a bit. “What did Ms. M. mean?” Shirley was the one who
was being questioned, though.
“Mrs. M. I wasn’t
shaking at anyone.” Shirley was serious.
“Oh yes! Yes you were.
I saw you.” Ms. M. was quite sure of her accusation.
“I saw you smiling and
shaking at someone.”
“This is when it dawned
on me what the older woman who was unmarried, was describing, when she
raised her hand and waved her fingers. It was my job to keep the
giggles down and keep my own face from breaking into a big grin. We
all kidded each other after that. “Don’t be shaking at anyone, now!”
Mother laughed while she remembered the event as it had happened in