Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
When I was a little pre‑school girl, I had a friend named Zippy. By thinking about it for a while today, I realized she had another name, a “real” one: Muriel. But to all of us, friends AND family, she was just Zippy. I never knew why‑‑‑but maybe I’ve found a reason:
I recently finished reading a book titled A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. She was a little girl, in a little Indiana town named Mooreland. She had delicate health at the beginning, but eventually she zipped around the house: here, there, everywhere. Then she zipped around Mooreland, a town of 300 people in the 1950. And in 1960. And 1970, and 1980‑‑‑”and so on.” It always had 300 residents. When one died, another was born, through some “mysterious and powerful mathematical principle” at work there. When one was born, another one died. When “Zippy” was born, a “barber named Tony was taken away.”
There was more than the name Zippy which drew me to this book. The humor, the simplicity of life in the mid‑60’s and slightly beyond, the common, small‑town things it reminded me of, all came flooding back as I found myself in Zippy’s shoes. Or, actually, in her sister’s old “fabulous, long, fake fur” slippers, with fur which sprouted up from the top and hung down to the floor. I never had those slippers. But I remember wanting them.
Zippy didn’t grow much hair until she was three years old. Then she got a wonderful, marvelous wig. Well, not a wig, exactly‑‑‑but what was then referred to as a “fall.” I had one in my teens‑‑‑I had very fine, somewhat thin hair, and to have that long, dark hair hanging straight down my back‑‑‑I know I was as thrilled with mine as she was with hers.
Zippy tells‑‑‑as an adult, but with the most charming, delightful child‑like voice‑‑‑what it was like to live in Mooreland, which had one main street: Broad Street. Yours might have been named Broad, or Main, or State, or Center, but they were all about the same. One denomination had a church at one end of the fairly short “Broad” Street, another denomination at the other end. If 300 people need more diversity, you might have found another one just off “Broad,” near the center of town. Like Mooreland, you might have had one theater showing one movie (possibly for weeks on end), no department store, no stop light. Maybe there was a drugstore‑‑‑like Zippy’s which had a soda fountain, but no drugs.
A carnival came to town once a year‑‑‑I remember one too. Hers arrived at the end of harvest season every August, and people took their vacations to work during the fair in food tents or organizing evens like the Most Beautiful Baby Contest or the Horse and Pony Pull.
This delightful step back in time had me looking back at my “Baby Book,” starting school, trying to find a friend, into the local “haunted house”‑‑‑or at least as close to it as I dared. I saw my father through my child’s eyes‑‑‑he didn’t drink, smoke or gamble like hers did, but otherwise they were “brothers”: did anything they had to for their “little girl.” I endured a slumber party, my first funeral (and seeing a real, honest‑to‑goodness dead body), class pictures, and learning to read.
I remember sitting in my little class seeing a LONG word I’d never seen before. I puzzled over it for a few minutes, and began to see just a little piece of it at a time: “may”‑‑‑that was a word I did know. Then “be”‑‑‑that was another word I knew. All of a sudden, I realized I was reading the “long” word. I was awe‑struck that, even knowing what “may” meant and what “be” signified, here I’d discovered a brand‑new word which contained both those I knew, but meant a whole different thing! I could not have been more shocked if lightning had struck me‑‑‑and I felt elated, excited, thrilled, and knew I’d be a writer and a reader for life.
I’d recommend this step back in time to anyone who would like to know what it was like “back then,” and to EVERYONE who, like me, actually lived through it!
Published in 2001, you can still get Zippy’s memoire in libraries and on Amazon‑‑‑do it. You won’t be sorry!
See you day-after-tomorrow for Monday Moans!