By Richard Mabey Jr.
The Christmas of 1962 showed me the kindness and appreciation of a dear and kind friend and classmate. I was nine years old and in Mrs. Jacobchick’s fourth grade class. I sat in the middle of the classroom, Pamela Rawlings sat next to me.
In early December, Mrs. Jacobchick had all of us draw names from a shoebox. As if the odds were a million to one, I chose my old best friend, Stuart Steinhauser. Unbeknownst to me, Pamela Rawlings picked my name from the box of folded papers.
I remember that I bought eight comic books for Stuart. I am positive that two of them were Batman and Superman titles. I’m pretty sure that two other comic books were Flash and Superboy. I’m not sure at all, about the other four comic book titles.
I remember in early December, walking home from school, and I had a whole, paper dollar in my pants pocket. I went into Moe’s Sweet Shop, with the intent to buy comics for Stuart. I remember it being such a magical moment in time. I had never bought eight comic books, at one time, any other time in my entire life. It was just a monumental moment.
I remember when I carried the stack of eight comic books to Moe’s cash register. It’s so funny, the things you remember. I remember Moe saying to me that it looked like I was going to read a lot of comic books that night. I confessed that I did read all of those eight comic books, before I wrapped them up in brightly colored Christmas wrapping paper for my old friend, Stuart.
For the next few weeks in December, I wondered and wondered who could have picked my name from Mrs. Jacobchick’s shoe box of hand-written names. What I was about to find out, as to who picked my name from the box, would touch my heart, all so very dearly.
In 1962, Christmas fell on a Tuesday, which meant that more than likely Mrs. Jacobchick had us exchange gifts on the Friday before Christmas, since we probably had the entire next week off from school.
Our little fourth grade Christmas party was a happy and joyful little celebration. My mom was the Class Mother for our class. Mom had baked a lot of Christmas cookies for our little party. And we had plenty of apple juice to drink. My mom did come to the little party, to help Mrs. Jacobchick hand out the cookies and pour the apple juice for the children.
I was lost for words when Pamela Rawlings looked at me, from her desk which was right across from me, and simply said “Merry Christmas, Richie!” And I then said “Merry Christmas” to Pamela. Then Pamela handed me a colorfully wrapped Christmas gift.
It all felt like a dream! Cute Pamela Rawlings was the one who picked my name from the shoebox, vastly full of
hand-written names. I remember thinking to myself, “of all the names in that were in that shoebox, sweet Pamela Rawlings chose my name! It was a religious experience for me!
I just sat there looking at Pamela’s gift for me. I remember Pamela saying to me, “Richie, aren’t you going to open it?” And, I think I said something like, “oh, yea, open it up, right….”
I carefully removed the brightly colored wrapping paper from Pamela’s gift. And, lo and behold, there it was, a handmade pencil holder. Obviously it was constructed from a soup can or a vegetable can of some kind.
The tin can was carefully covered with colorful construction paper. All the while I was looking at that beautiful homemade pencil holder, I kept thinking to myself, “Pamela Rawlings made a pencil holder for me… me….. me!” I thanked Pamela. She asked me if I liked it and I told her that I just loved it.
I then turned to my left-hand side, looking toward the back of the classroom, Stuart was looking at the covers of his eight comic books. He sent me a big thumbs up, along with a big smile. It was such a memorable little classroom Christmas party.
Here’s the amazing thing. I still keep in touch with my old friend, Stuart. And, just a few years ago, I was reunited with my old friend, Pamela, through a common friend. The odds were a million to one that Pamela and I were able to find each other, after having lost touch with each for a little over 45 years! The friends of early childhood are truly, the dear and beloved friends.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.