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The me I was at six

Ann DeFrange Published: September 16, 2001

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.

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