This is how Dickensian my childhood was. For some reason, living back in Georgia I have had some very distinct memories come back to me, I suspect as I grow older I will remember more. But, the sudden cold weather brought up memories of walking to school in Atlanta when I was 7or 8 years old. My mother would wake us sometimes, most times it was up to us to get up on our own, get dressed, eat something if we had anything to eat and head out on a trek that literally took almost 45 minutes. My brother and I walked through the woods across the street, we had figured out a shortcut. My sister was in High school at the time and I don't remember how she got to school, but I do remember she sometimes went that way with us.
On one particularly extreme cold day, I left for school by myself because my brother was sick. He was often sick because he slept in the attic which had no heat. I chose to sleep on the living room couch where it was warmer. It was a small house. Donald braved the cold though in that attic but it exacerbating his asthma. Our mother refused to ever take us to the doctor. This was all part of her neglectful and abusive child rearing.
She also refused to buy us any thing like socks, thick coats, gloves, things any normal mother would feel crucial. I remember my sister telling me that the reason my mother never bought us shoes in the summer, even cheap flip-flops was because she stated that shoes were not needed in the summer. And I do remember running around in the summer stubbing my toes because I had no shoes.
This morning, the morning that it was so very cold, I had very thin socks. I wore penny loafers. I also did not have a coat, just a thin sweater. By the time I got to Tilson Elementary I was so cold I was shivering violently. I would enter the school through the main doors and turn right to go the grades 1-3. But this morning one of the cafeteria workers spotted me. She rushed over and escorted me to the heaters that lined the walls. They were those old steam heaters I believe that provided a steady steam of hot air. She picked me up and set me on that heater. She told me not to go to class until I was warm enough to go, she then left me there and got back to work in the kitchen. I stayed there. I began to cry. I am not sure to this day what I felt because it was a ball of feelings, shame, fear, isolation and a rush of kindness unexpected. I was unprepared.
I stayed there for atleast 20 minutes, then I plodded on to my class. I remember every detail of that day.