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8th Grade. Socorro, New Mexico

There was some tension around our house.  Deryl and Mom were over the “honeymoon, lovey-dovey stuff” and were adjusting to another stage of married life.  Bronco was having some difficulties in school; and I had returned to my disrespectful moody ways.
One day, Mom came home from a meeting with Bronco’s schoolteacher.  She was upset!  Her face became a picture of anger as she yelled at me, “You are part of Bronco’s problem!  If you don’t straighten up, I’ll send you to live with Grandma Underwood in Albuquerque!”
I ran to my room, threw myself across the bed and sobbed.  After the cry, I laid brooding.  I knew it!  Mom didn’t love me!  She only loved Bronco!
If she didn't want me...I didn't need her!
          Mom and I were stale mated again.

          I matured early.  Mom said it was a "miracle". I found it was a nuisance. The girls at school made fun of me and the boys made snide remarks. Because the high school was attached to the junior high, I had many older friends. (Jill Hollinger was one of them.) There were many who did not realize I was 12 yrs old.

          Mom decided I should learn to drive a car…a stick shift. "You should learn on a stick shift." she said. 
          Deryl sat patiently by me as I pushed in the clutch and ground the gears to his car. Eventually I got the hang of it. (I'm sure Deryl was relieved to get out of the car, when we got back.)
           A week later..."Why don't you take Deryl's car for a drive," Mom said as she handed me the keys.
          Of course I snatched them right up.
        I opened the door of Deryls car, sat in the seat and scooted it forward. Turning the key, I pushed in the clutch and jerked forward as I tried to get it in gear.
         After a few tries I accelerated and drove onto the alley.  It was great fun.
        Mom had told me to just stay in the alleys, not to get on any main streets.
         I didn't have a license, I was only 12 yrs old.
        A half hour later I drove onto our gravel driveway, in back of our house.  I decided I had driven in too close so I shifted into reverse and backed up.
        I had backed Deryl's car into a telephone pole. There was a dent in the bumper.
        My step dad , when he got home, was not happy.  Typically, he never lectured me, but he was very tight lipped. (I didn't know if he knew it was Mom's idea or not.) I was sorry I had dented his car.
        Mom never handed me the keys to Deryl's car again.

        His hands gripped the steering wheel, eyes straight ahead. If he had planned it, the evening didn't go as he thought.  I knew when he got me home; he wouldn't walk me to the door.
        It all began when Mom told me a boy, who was a clerk at a store, wanted to meet me. "He's such a nice boy. Nice looking too."
        I liked him right away. Actually, I was smitten. The only problem was…he was 15 yrs old and I was 12 yrs. Old.
        As I walked to the high school, before class, I saw him waiting for me. My heart did a pitter patter. I was flattered that an older boy was interested in me, and a good looking one at that. (I was sure the girls in my class were jealous.)
        Every morning we met and talked.  He was a "cat." (Which I will explain later). His entire group of buddies hung around the same area.
        "Would you like to go steady?" he asked me with a big smile.
        I wasn't quite sure what "steady" was. "I better ask my mother," I answered.
        "No, you are too young."  Mom' said..
        I honestly did not care, but she didn't know that. I acted upset and ran to my room.
        "Okay, if it means that much to you…you can go steady." Mom conceded.
        I had a ring on a chain around my neck. I wasn't supposed to like any other boys.  That was all I knew about "going steady."
        I put on my flowered dress. I was going on my first date.
        My "steady" came to the door and we walked out to his mother's car. She was behind the wheel because he didn't have a drivers' license. I felt so grown up that night.
        All went well until I turned 13 and my steady turned 16. He had his drivers license.
        He picked me up, with the keys to the car, in his hand. We were going to the drive in Movie Theater…alone. "Be sure and get her home by eleven," Mom had said.
        I received my first kiss. But then came another one…I was being pushed down on the seat.
        "No!" I yelled. "Stop!" 
        That wasn't in his vocabulary evidently. I didn't know I had so much strength. My adrenaline kicked in and he was shoved backward.
        He was angry! He scooted behind the wheel and started the car.  He never spoke another word to me on the way home. He stopped the car in front of the house. I opened my door, got out and he drove off.
        On Monday morning I walked to the high school side of the building. There he was with his "buddies."  He walked over to me: no smile.
        "He nudged his head toward his friends."The guys asked me if we've ever done anything," he said with a scowl. "I said no…you wouldn't give. I want my ring back."
                           ( So much for going steady!)
        I never told Mom, and she never asked why he wasn't coming around anymore.

        Angie, her cousin Barry and I drove into the Socorro drive in movie theater. It was a double feature, but we were only staying for one movie. Barry was older then us and had his license and a car.
        When the first movie ended, Barry turned the key in the ignition…"chugs…chug."  "I think the batter is dead." Barry said . "I'll go to the concession stand and see if I can get someone to jump the battery."
        Angie and I sat and sat and sat. I was getting worried. I knew if I didn't get home soon I'd have to deal with Mom.
        The drive in was outside Socorro…close to a half mile.
        "Come on Angie…let's walk home," I said.
        Angie was hesitant…"What about Barry?"
        "He'll figure it out," I said.
        We walked through the exit of the drive in onto the road.
        "Won't Barry be surprised when he comes back to the car," I laughed
       I could see the lights of Socorro in the distance as we continued down the dark highway.
        A pickup passed and then a car. The back lights of the pickup turned red as it stopped. The car following it did the same.  Both vehicles backed up. Angie gripped my arm.
        A man came from the pickup and another man from the car.  I knew they were drunk.
        "Well, what have we got here?  Some little cuties."
        Suddenly, boldness came over me. I didn't even look at the men. Angie's eyes were as big as saucers as I took her arm and turned her.
        "Come on Angie…let's get back to the drive in."
        We walked back up the highway. We never looked back, and we were not followed.
        Barry's car was running when we got inside the drive in. "Hey I was just coming to look for you two."
        We never told Barry what had happened. (unless Angie told him later.) And I certainly never told Mom.