There is a small town in southwestern Virginia. A not so busy main street; a bank, hotel, drugstore, coffee shop, clothing store, hardware store and an array of miscellaneous small businesses. Trees line Main street, and the people are dressed in the jackets and scarves around their heads , the attire of 1946. It is early Fall and the leaves are beginning to change colors.
The hotel has been turned into a restaurant on the first floor and small apartments on the two upper floors. The windows of the apartments look out over the street and an old log cabin that is abandoned. There is a big swing on the porch that overlooks the street. Families who live in the apartments sometimes meet and share their day with other families. I love to sit in the swing and wait for my Mother to come home from work. I read books and practice my penmanship.
We have moved into this apartment recently. I attend a small Christian school. I am in the third grade. My brother is four years old and will go to live with a farmer and his wife who live out of town. He cannot stay here because my Mother goes to work every day as a nurse’s aid. I am in school most of the day and stay alone when my Mother works an extra shift. When we first moved here I had the responsibility of watching over my brother when My Mother was at work. We always got into fights because he refused to do what I told him . One day he fell down the stairs and hurt his knee while we were fighting. After that my Mother found the farmer and his wife and he had to stay there during the week or when Mother was working.
There is a boy in the apartment above me. He is one year older and is nice to me. He comes and sits in the swing with me some days and we talk. He goes to a different school and is the only other friend I have in the building. Some days he cannot come to the swing so I sit alone. He always has some money in his pocket. Dimes and nickels. I can tell they are important to him as he shows me the coins every time he comes to the swing.
My Mother leaves her purse on a chair beside the front door. It is a large purse and she keeps important papers, keys to the front door and her money. She always has a coin purse that has many coins and sometimes she gives me a dime or nickel to buy something at the grocery or dime store when we go shopping.
I take two quarters out of her purse after she has gone to work one day. I go down and sit in the swing and the boy comes to visit with me. After awhile I give him the two quarters. He tells me he likes me. I feel embarrassed and leave and go back to our apartment. I do not know what to say to a boy. Some days later my Mother discovered that I had taken the coins from her purse. She did not punish me but the scolding was severe and went on for a long time. I felt ashamed and cried. The sense of shame gave me a headache. I knew that she was disappointed and that she would not trust me again. How did she know.
I went to the swing again a few days later. The boy did not come to the swing again.