I think I was in 8th grade at the time. I don’t know for sure. What I do know is, I was too old for white, rubber galoshes! But my mom made me wear them. Ok, well in all honesty, I really did need them. It was spring, in North Idaho, and spring means rain, and slush, and mud.
We lived on a road that at that time was still dirt, and when it rained, after the winter snows, it became mud…deep mud. So in obedience, and maybe some stubbornness, I wore those white galoshes to school. I say stubbornness, because I knew I would be made fun of for wearing them. I knew it was not cool. I wore them anyway, because I loved my mom. I would take the teasing if necessary.
I will never forget though, one time on my way home from school, I was wearing my white galoshes. There were several of us walking in a group, just before we would part ways, and I would eventually be one of the last kids heading east toward the mountain where the road we lived on, was still dirt…mud, on this day.
Sure enough, the comment came. Someone made fun of me in my rubber galoshes. I don’t remember who it was; I don’t remember for sure what was said. I don’t remember if I was about to defend myself with all the defiance of which I was capable. I just remember Ronnie. Ronnie was the most popular kid in our 8th grade class. He was 8th grade class president, he was cute, he was smart, but most of all he was nice; and he was nice to everyone.
This day, Ronnie came to my defense. “Well, at least her feet are going to be dry when she gets home!” he exclaimed to the offender or offenders. “Don’t let them bother you, Jan,” he said to me. “I would wear them too, if I had them.”
Wow, that comment made me feel good. I never forgot it. We parted ways there at the corner. Not sure if I thanked Ronnie. Not sure if anything was ever said again. But I never forgot that moment. I have thought of it so many times over the years. I loved Ronnie for that. I think I have always loved Ronnie…just the classmate, brother kind of love….maybe the “defender of the damsel in distress” kind of love. The kids in our little, country school got to know one another so well over the eight years we attended there together and I love them all and cherish the memory of each.
Ronnie’s behavior was always the same. He was always popular, he was always kind. Ronnie was always our leader and the defender of the underdog….if it wasn’t for Ronnie, I don’t think I would even remember those silly, white, rubber galoshes; but because of him and his kindness, it is another memory that I hold and treasure.