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The Shining Grass Austin The school prepared for the return of the children as if the President of the United States was coming. The teachers heard an address by Robert Choate, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to head the committee to combat juvenile delinquency in culturally deprived areas of America. “You have to get them involved in the community,” he said. Mrs. C…. ‘s bulletin board announced: “This is our class,” and displayed their preregistered names over cartoon faces. A chart by Mrs. B….’s door proclaimed boldly: “I am important. I must prepare to take my place in the world of work and brotherhood.” Prints of the old masters and of contemporaries on loan from the Texas Fine Arts Association hung in the halls at child’s-eye level. Children streamed over the sidewalk. “This summer ,sornebOdYr fell off the roof and the ambulance came and there was blood all beer,” said Joe. The children ,filled'” the building. The teacher made out an enrollment card. “Can you sign your name on this blank?” she asked the mother. “I can print the letters,” said the mother proudly. “But not very well,” she added with modest haste and a deprecating little laugh. “I just learn last year.” “I would like to learn to read and write,” said another mother. She made an “X” in the space entitled “Signature of Parent or Guardian.” RICHARD APPEARED by the side of the teacher as silently as his Indian ancestors must have crept upon a foe. He was about four feet high with an enormous crop of wavy black hair, which he had greased and combed with great pride. He took a comb out of his pocket. “Mees, will you keep this?” he asked. “I don’t want to lose it.” Paul came to the desk. His eyes were painfully black against his face pale under the olive. “Mees, I don’t feel too good,” he said. “Do you feel faint?” asked the teacher. “Yes, I feel faint,” he said. The teacher hustled him downstairs to the health room, where he collapsed on the cot. She went to the cafeteria to get him a spoonful of sugar and a glass of water. “Paul probably didn’t eat a proper breakfast,” she explained to the cafeteria manager. “He didn’t eat any,” replied the manager. “None of them do.” Georgia Earnest Klipple At the mid-morning break the teacher announced, “Today we will take a trip around our school to look for beauty.” The school was an oasis in the slum by the railroad yard. Crepe myrtle and althea bloomed cerise and white against the brick walls that.. rose two and a half stories above the surrounding shacks. The sky was bright blue and September thunderheads piled high. Grass on the schoolyard was green. The sprinkler was turned on a hill that rose toward the railroad. The skeleton of a tree, black and luminous silver, accented the sky. The whistles and bells of maneuvering trains sounded. Benjamin took two long involved drinks at The fountain. “Mees, can I get another drink of water?” he asked. “No, you shall not get three drinks in five minutes’ time,” the teachfr replied firmly. “Mees,” Benjamin said childingly, “Not by bread alone!” At her off period the teacher told Mrs. C…. Benjamin’s remark. “God love him,” said Mrs. C….. “His oldest brother is a lay preacher, so Benjamin is familiar with Bible quotations. I had Jesus, Maria, Jose, Carmen, Alesandi -o, and Chris during my fifteen years here. There were thirteen in the family. “I’ll never forget Chris. I read a Bible story every morning to my class. One morning I read about Abraham and Moses. ” ‘When we die,’ he asked, ‘will we really see Abraham and Moses?’ “When he went home to lunch that day the water cooling fan at his house was not working. He sprayed it with the water hose to wash it off and get it to running again. He didn’t come back to school that afternoon. There happened to be an exposed power line. He was standing in a puddle of water and he touched the line and died instantly.” AT LUNCHTIME blonde, darkeyed, beautiful Miss N…., who was 22 years old and looked like a movie star, brought her class of under-achievers into the cafeteria. They bought their trays and sat down at the table. They bowed their heads and folded their hands. Someone struck the chimes. The cafeteria was silent. In low gutteral jigtime they recited: “Thank you, God, for the world so sweet, Thank you, God, for the food we eat, Thank you, God, for the birds that sing, “Thank you, God, for everything.” Each child had a ripe olive on his tray. Paul, who had been roused from his rest on the health room cot, had six. “Look, Mees, look Paul,” the children cried happily. “The manager she give Paul the olives. He likes them.” Richard went through the cafeteria line. He bought a cookie and drew a glass of water. “Is that all you are going to eat?” asked the teacher. “Yes, Mees, I just got a neekel,” he said. The teacher gave him a quarter. “Take this and get yourself a tray,” she said. The lunch was meat loaf with catsup, corn, spinach, chocolate milk, rolls, butter, and cupcakes with decorated white icing. Richard was a happy boy. “I am glad to eat,” he told the teacher. “We have only one thing left in our house to eatand I don’t like it.” He laughed a little. “My seester she have baby maybe today,” he added in a rush of confidence. The teacher sent home a card applying for lunch discount, to be filled out by Richard’s parents. He brought it back the next day, along with a nickel to repay the teacher for her quarter. Richard’s mother was separated from his father. She worked in a store. She had six children. She made $60 a month. Richard received a discount of 20 cents. He could now eat, a full tray for a dime. “Mees, the baby he die,” said Richard. “Eet was a boy,” he said sadly. “They how you say it?put heem in the ground at eleven today. My mother she go.” “Who died?” asked Joe,, his eyes big. “The baby of my seester,” said Richard. The children gathered around in respect and awe. “They put heem in the ground . . .” began Richard for this second audience, faced with the unexpected importance of sorrow. “. . . bury . . .” interrupted Joe excitedly but politely. “. . at eleven today,” concluded Richard. “My other seester she have baby.” “Today?” asked the startled teacher. Richard shook his head. “Not today, but she have baby.” “Soon ?” “Yes, Mees, soon.” THERE WAS a faculty meeting after school. “Paul came to see me today,” said Mrs. B….. “I’ve had several of Paul’s brothers and sistersthere were eleven of them. They came here during the recession. Paul’s father couldn’t get a job. Just so they could keep body and soul together I had Paul’s father clean our yard. They October 16, 1964 7