SHE looks out of the small black and white rectangle with big, dark eyes, already one of her trademarks.
They do not stare directly into the camera; they are a bit shaded, cast a little off-camera. She's an observer of life, long before she's ready to become a participant.
A pretty little thing, if I may say so. Obviously, she has affectionate caretakers and a loving mother who decked her out on Picture Day in a collar clean and white but crooked, as if that weren't truly important. Her hair is curled and barretted, close to the contemporary fashion, but only close.
She's vaguely familiar. I used to know her but lost track of her some years ago.
She is me at 6 years old.
In columns about knowing directions (Aug. 29 and Sept. 7) I noted that my first education about left and right occurred in the first grade. One of the calls I received was from Katherine Hoehner in Okarche, who shared that first-grade room and the same first-grade teacher with me.
We discussed first-grade issues, first-grade classmates and mutual memories. Katherine mentioned old yearbooks from Holy Trinity School, and I hung up and went to find the girl in my school picture.
I don't remember her very well. I search her face for signs of what she will become. She is smiling, the smile of a pleaser, of a girl taught early to be "nice." But perhaps she is growing a sense of humor, the one that will pull me out of the holes I fall in later in my life.
That first-grade year, while she was learning left and right, she learned to leave home for the larger world outside her yard, saying goodbye to her mother in the mornings and walking past the big dog that lived between her house and school.
She learned she was smart that year, and she found wondrous messages inside books, for a hint of the power of the written word that would intrigue her in the following decades. She took very seriously the moral principles the parochial school taught her.
Did she know what awaited her, I wonder. Did she have any frame of reference for the joys and despairs that age would bring?
Perhaps she knew something I intended to keep forever and then forgot. Perhaps there was something I was supposed to do, or be.
Would I like her if I knew her now? Would she approve of me?
I should get acquainted with her. I've got her picture right here.
Call me: 475-3449. Write me: P.O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City 73125. E-Mail me: ADefrange@Oklahoman.com. Fax me: 475-3183.Archive ID: 864491