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Short Stories for Children of all Ages A lesson in ugly Pedagogical Project “The Joy of Reading”


A lesson in ugly


Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.

Khalil Gibran


One of my earliest memories is being all dressed up to have my picture taken. I remember Mother bathing me, putting lotion on my hair and curling it around her finger as she blew on it. I twisted and squirmed and she patiently told me a story as she worked on my hair.

“This will make you pretty,” she explained. “you’re going to have your picture taken and you want to look pretty, don’t you?”

I was a child in the late 40s and early 50s, and that was the time when ladies wore hats and gloves and nylon hose. Men wore three-piece suits, hats and carried handkerchiefs. Whether it was to church, shopping, or to a special event, everyone dressed their best. There was no jeans, sweatshirts, tennis shoes, or baggy anything.

We lived in an antebellum house in Palestine, Texas, on a large two-acre lot. For some reason, we attracted the discarded and homeless pets of the area. It it was a stray, it ended up in our yard. In the evening Grandpa would fill a half dozen tin pie plates with leftovers and some cheap cat food and take them out into the backyard. He would bang a couple of plates together, yell “kitty, kitty, kitty”. After he went back into the house, a dozen feral cats would creep out from the bushes, the sheds, and the storage building and chow down. Sometimes there was even a stray dog or two. If they were tame, Grandpa would try and find homes for them.

It was 1950 and just after Christmas when I came home from school, changed clothes, and grabbed a sandwich before heading across the hall to see my grandparents. I was surprised to see my grandmother sitting alone sipping coffee. “Where’s Grandpa?” I asked. “Oh, he’s in the basement working on an old stray cat that snuck in the basement window. The cat is badly burned, but you know your grandpa, he’s determined to doctor that old cat up.”

I headed for the cellar. In the past we had sewn up an old hen that had been attacked in the hen house, bandaged dozen of cuts, scrapes, and injuries of assorted cats, dogs, pigs, horses, and even a cow or two.

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