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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 3

In the Onion Patch

Miss Kennedy was my teacher in country school the year I started in eighth grade. One day, while I was dusting the erasers for her, she asked in her quiet way if I planned to go to high school. With a family the size of ours and with me needed to help at home, I had given so little thought to such a thing that her question startled me. I told her how it was and that I knew I'd be working on the farm.

"You could go on as far as your studies are concern," was all she said.

She made me feel good, just saying that; but, after all, high school was not for me.

Before Christmas vacation she mentioned it again. Later, in the spring, she said the same thing. By the third time she had really started me to thinking so that I asked Dad. He was so surprised that all he could say was, "How on earth could you go to high school!" Then shaking his head he added, "High school takes money. Besides, son, Mother and I need you here." I knew that every word he said was true. I was doubly sure than I asked Mother and she said the same thing, softening it a little by suggesting that maybe if I waited a few years I could go on.

"I could earn my own way," I suggested feebly. They smiled and said no.

Examination time came. The day that Miss Kennedy handed back our papers she asked me to stay after school. "I mustn't insist, William," she began, "but it does seem a pity that you can't go on to high school. You're well qualified for your class work, and I just believe you could find work so that you could earn your own way, a big, husky boy like you. I know you are needed at home, but I am wondering if you might not be better able to help your folks if you had a high school training."

Walking home that night on the dusty road, I turned the idea over and over in my mind. Maybe this wasn't so impossible. After high school I could teach myself and get a paycheck every month. I might even be able to buy Mother a dress, and Dad some shoes. And there could be hair ribbons for the little girls (our ninth baby was a girl). By the time I turned in at our lane, I was practically through high school. But Dad said no and Mother said no; and I, sick at heart, tackled the summer's work. I didn't mention high school after that.

One blistering hot day Dad and I were down on our knees weeding onions in the patch behind the orchard when, like a bolt of lightning out of a clear sky, came these words from Dad: "Son, your mother and I have been talking things over. If you can make your own way, as you say you can, we will let you go to high school."

  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

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