Lulu Johnson Elementary School, Henrietta, Texas, 1953: In the third grade, Eddy Frank was a big hit with Susan J. For reasons I could not comprehend, she favored him above other, more attractive boys, such as, for example, myself.
Susan had invented a wonderful game, and Eddy Frank knew just how to play it.
Susan had two little girl accomplices, and, in cahoots, the three of them would sneak up on Eddy Frank, who pretended he didn’t notice. When they jumped him, the two would grab his arms, and he’d wail, “Oh, noooo!”
Meanwhile, Susan J. stepped around to face him, and then, grasping her skirt, she’d pull it high, exposing her brown belly and girlish drawers. Eddy’s eyes bugged, as he feebly struggled.
“Oh, no!” he’d cry out. “Don’t make me look! Don’t make me look!”
Oh, the anguish of it! His wailing cry, the pathos! The boy had the touch. I burned with envy, but never found a way to insinuate myself into the game. I mean, how do you say, “Don’t make me look, too!”
Eddy Frank’s unique brand of resistance made him irresistible. But Eddy Frank wasn’t just skillful with the girls.
That year, a new kid showed up. A skinny, burr-headed boy named Jimmy B. He was the solemn-faced, thin and wiry kind of kid. He seemed tough, and said little.
At the first recess, we gamboled in the fresh September air on the north side of the school. But not Eddy Frank and the new kid. Eddy Frank and Jimmy B. were circling each other, warily. Not a word was spoken. Suddenly, Eddy Frank jumped the new guy. It was a grand fight. Rolling over and other, dirt and pebbles flying, wild fists flailing, tearing shirts, with lots of grunts and growling. They were just wild.
We enjoyed this spectacle until Ms. Gilbert and Ms. Stine pulled them apart. It was clear that Eddy Frank had started the fight, and it seemed out of the blue. That was part of the wonder.
Ms. Gilbert shook Eddy Frank’s arm. “Why did you do that?” she hissed. Eddy Frank glowered at Jimmy, then slowly answered.
“I didn’t like his looks.”