After the Last Class

… of Ninth Grade
By Jeff Salter

We’re blogging this week about the end of school.  No particular year.  Well, I remember several.  Here’s one you may enjoy.

On the final day of 9th grade (my freshman year at Covington High School), I had special plans for the girl I’d been flirting with all year long … and whom I’d been fond of since 8th grade.  Let’s just call her J.M.  We had at least two classes together – Algebra I and General Science – and I sat right next to her in both.  I never did know how much she “liked me back” but I sure did like her.

So, anyway, on that last day, after we’d received our final report cards and learned – officially – that we’d been promoted to the next grade, I caught up with J.M. on her way home.  That was a very short distance of hardly more than one city block.  But J.M. had also been joined by another female friend … and somewhere along the way, the three of us were joined by a mutual male friend.  So it was two boys and two girls walking that long block to J.M.’s house.

Wish I could remember the dialog, but J.M. invited us all inside for some refreshments.  [After all, it had been that looonnngg walk of over a city block!]  I presume her mom was present, but don’t recall actually seeing any adults.  So J.M. made some Kool-Aid in a flavor which soon was replaced (since it was ethnically offensive): Injun Orange.  There we sat — four recently liberated soon-to-be sophomores … feeling all grown up.

Problem is:  I wanted J.M. to myself.  I had something important to tell her.  You see, not only was that my last day in 9th grade, but it was quite nearly my last day in Covington.  My dad had a new job four states north … all the way to Iowa.  And, as far as I knew, I’d never see Covington again.  Or J.M.

So, I wanted the other two kids to scram.  But they didn’t.  As I looked back on that scene, I’ve wondered if the other two kids were there precisely to keep me from being alone with J.M.  Don’t know.  As I said, I never had a strong indication of how J.M. felt about me.  She seemed to enjoy my attentions and – to my perception – even encouraged them.  Certainly, it could be said that she did not DIS-like me.

Despite having no way of knowing her heart for certain, I had made up my mind that before I left that town (and that state) I needed to declare my affections to J.M.  I was all of 14-and-a half at this point.  But I was so committed to clearing the air between us, that you’d have thought I was heading off to war the next morning.

Well, the afternoon had crept on and we’d run out of Injun Orange Kool-Aid, so – realizing the other boy and girl were obviously not leaving without me – we all three left J.M.’s house together … and I walked the remaining six blocks home.

Of course, I was terribly frustrated:  having ginned up the willpower to declare my affections … yet been denied the opportunity by those two interlopers.

I got home, snacked dejectedly, and the phone rang!

In those days, you may remember, a household had only ONE phone, so a ring simply indicted an incoming call.  No way of knowing who it was for.  I dashed to the phone (on the wall between the kitchen and living room) and said, somewhat tentatively, “Hello?”

Somewhere way down in the recesses of my brain, I wondered if perhaps J.M. had realized that I’d wanted to talk to her alone … and that she was as frustrated as I had been at the intrusive company of the other two kids.  Maybe this caller was J.M. and we’d finally have our private chat!

Nope.

It turned out to be the local radio station.  They had an advertising program in which they would call – at specified times – the 10th listing on the 2nd column of the 20th page of the local phone book.  [Of course, the location changed with each call.]  And that was our household’s lucky day to answer their question:  “Which local business was mentioned in the radio program advertisement at the top of the hour?”

Well, I had absolutely no idea.  I didn’t even listen to that local station.  We were always tuned to either WWL or WTIX from New Orleans!  But I was aware of a local business which did a lot of advertising with that radio station, so I guessed that merchant.  Nope.  Wrong answer.  Thanks for participating.  Better luck next time.

Well, not only had the call NOT been from J.M., but the stinking radio station didn’t even award me a prize for my clever guess!  Doubly down in the dumps.

But then I had an idea:  the phone!  Yeah.  I could CALL J.M. and declare my affections.  Those two other kids wouldn’t intrude on our phone call!  So I looked up her number.  Dialed it.  [Yeah, you had to dial in the old days.]  I think her brother answered.  I asked to speak to J.M. and big brother demanded to know who was calling.  Reluctantly I told him.

J.M. came to the line.  I suspect she was as surprised to get my call as I had been to hear from the radio station earlier.  And the radio station’s call gave me a great intro to ease into the true purpose of my contact.  I told her I about that call, and my bad guess.  Then there was a long awkward silence.  This surely would have been easier in person over a glass of Injun Orange.

Finally, I collected all my (scant) courage and reminded her I was moving to Iowa in a few days, likely wouldn’t see her again, and then I blurted out the central message:  “so before I leave I just wanted to tell you that I like you and I’ll miss you.”

It was hardly the stuff of Romeo and Juliet, but those were definitely the most declarative words I’d ever spoken in the realm of ‘True Like’.

I no longer recall her response, if any.  But my impression at the time was that she was too floored to reply.  But surely she must have already known — after all, I had pestered her throughout 8th grade and flirted with her throughout 9th.  What more specific expression of my affections could I have manifested?

Anyway, I got that off my chest.  I think we wrote a letter or two during those next couple of months.  Then 10th grade began — each of us in different schools and different states.

Interestingly, my banishment to Iowa lasted a single year and I returned to Covington H.S. for 11th and 12th grade.  But by the time of my return, J.M. was dating the boy whom she would later marry.  We spoke occasionally, in school, but neither of us ever mentioned that final day of 9th grade … or anything which happened, in person or by phone.

Until now.

Question:
            Which final day of any school year do YOU recall?  Were any as embarrassing as this was for me?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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27 Responses to After the Last Class

  1. Iris B says:

    OMG – I love that story, Jeff!!
    I would so love it even more if JM would read this and contact you again ….. great story. You’ve obviously been a charmer from the very early days 😉

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Iris. Me, too,
      Sadly, just within the past couple of years (and not too far apart) J.M. & her husband both passed away. She was still married to that guy she dated in H.S. when the first of that couple died. One had a brain tumor, but I can’t recall which.
      Very sad for them to leave so young. And imagine how it was on their kids to lose both parents within such a short span.

      Like

      • Iris B says:

        That does leave the story with a sad ending. Losing parents, or in fact anybody close must be hard, but as they say, sometimes love is so strong when one dies, the other one gives up on life.

        Like

      • Oh, that IS sad.

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        It’s a bit of a blur, now. But I think J.M.’s husband of MANY years died of cancer a few years ago. Then, less than two years later, J.M. died of a brain tumor.
        It’s certainly possible I have it backwards — but so sad that both died so young and so close together.

        Like

  2. Shea Ford says:

    What a fun glimpse into the early Jeff Salter! 😀 I was on the J.M. side once (I think I was in the 10th grade), but I didn’t share any classes with that kid and barely knew him. But even after all this time, I think I still have the “love note” he wrote to me in my box of keepsakes. I didn’t have the same feelings for him as I guess he had for me, but the admiration was greatly appreciated. 😉 He was a nice guy.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Yes, Shea, I suppose a similar scene has been replayed across the world, spanning the ages. Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot, but often (it seems) the boy pines for the girl. And all he gets is Kool-Aid.

      Like

  3. jeff7salter says:

    If my tale of young love was set in modern day, I suppose J.M. and I would have been exchanging Facebook notes during 8th grade, and texting during 9th grade. In my first few weeks in Iowa, I suppose we would have Skyped.

    Like

  4. jeff7salter says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention: J.M. and I did have at least one more encounter. Some dozen years after this incident, when we were both married (to others), we bumped into each other at a day care where my son and J.M.’s child were both enrolled. While we were waiting on the kids to come out, we chatted. But I think it was mostly about the sweet lady who ran the day care.

    Like

  5. Calico says:

    Unfortunately the only last day of school I can recall was my SR year and nothing special or funny happened that day. While I did once upon a time have a HUGE crush on a boy I went to school with….we were not in the same clique and even though he and every one else knew about my crush it was funny to them and I got teased about it frequently. Sadly that occurred a lot to me during my school years which may be why I recall very little of that time in my life 😦

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I completely understand, Calico. I got teased a lot about a 4-yr crush I had on R.B. from 5th thru 8th grades.
      Interestingly, during 8th grade, though I had a huge crush on R.B. I was unable to speak to her directly. I’d leave gifts on the front porch of her home, but would not (could not engage her in conversation).
      Conversely, that same year, I spent a lot of time yakking with and pestering J.M. — the subject of today’s blog. How weird that I couldn’t speak to R.B. [the one I “REALLY” liked and took to the 8th grade prom], but I could chatter to J.M., of whom I grew so fond the following year.

      Like

  6. I love this story, Jeff.I was the Queen of Unrequited Love.I was very shy and there was no way I would have spoken up to a crush. I am so glad that you called her…and I’m glad that you went away and later got to see that she found the fellow that was meant for her, (as Denise was meant for you.)
    My school’s last days will be up tomorrow, as usual.

    Like

  7. jbrayweber says:

    Cute story, Jeff. I love listening to your tale of old.
    I can’t recall any particular last day of school. But I can appreciate the frustration you had. It wasn’t until a decade and a half after graduation that I found out I had a passel of boys who would drive by my house for a glimpse of me. How frustrating! A couple of those boys I REALLY liked. But there was this ONE that I was all giggly and girly over. Ironically, he was the one who confessed to me about the ‘drive-bys’ and that he was simply terrified to ask me out. UGH! What could’ve been… Silly boy!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      why were they so frightened of you, Jenn?
      Did your dad sit on the porch with a shotgun?

      Like

      • jbrayweber says:

        LOL. No. It wasn’t until I actually brought them home that they realized there was something more frightening than me. Ha!

        I think the boys were intimated by by outgoing personality and ability to one-up them in banter. Remember, I was also a good girl with a wild streak. 😉

        Like

      • jeff7salter says:

        LOL. Plus, they possibly realized you’d grow up to become an author … and would use them as the basis for some characters.

        Like

  8. Louisa Bacio says:

    Loved hearing your story, Jeff. At the moment, I can’t remember any last days of school, but some good memories.

    Like

  9. Cute story! I bet she was a cute girl, too

    Like

  10. Well, I’m late, but I made it. Loved your story, Jeff. Thanks for sharing it!

    You would think a person with 13 years of attending public school, six years of college, and 36 years of teaching (elementary, junior high, and university), that I would remember at least one last day. But I really don’t. All I remember is being eager for summer to begin, and having time to do things I wanted to do. Like sitting outside under a shady tree with a good book.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      always glad to see you here, Patty, no matter what time of day.
      I guess it’s clear from my post why this particular day stood out for me. I don’t believe I can think of another one … except in the most general terms.

      Like

  11. That puts me in mind of a time when I tried to let a guy down nicely. I ended up insulting him (without meaning to). Ironically, over the years he became like a brother to me. We’ve been best friends for 17 years. I was best friends with his wife for 15 years (I introduced them senior year of high school, and they later married). Sadly, friend’s wife died in February of this year (not sure from what). But I remember how he never made a secret of how I felt about him–I certainly was forthcoming that I had no interest in dating him. I “Friend-zoned” him as they call it nowadays. But, luckily he got over me and now we’re best buds. He and my husband get along very well, and Offspring has fun with “Uncle Stephen” as well.So it wasn’t all bad. LOL

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      very glad you visited, Bethany.
      I’m glad your friendship with “Stephen” survived his let-down that you were not interested in him in other ways.
      And very cool that you were instrumental in getting him and his wife together!

      Like

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