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Lost In A Desert World

Creator: Roland Johnson (author)
Date: 1994
Source: Available at selected libraries

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We used to get town passes and go into Pottstown, shopping or watching the movies. I would eat up in Pottstown. There was a diner I used to love so much up there; people used to know us from just going back and just eating. Would be two of us going together.


I had a girl friend, Shirley R. I met her in the school building. She was coming to school and she would stop me for different things. She would stop me in the school yard and she would ax me do I have any money. And I said, "No, not this time." And she said, "When you gonna get some money?" I said, "I don't know." So I said, "When I meet you again, I'll have some money."


And she would ax me: "You want to be my boyfriend?" I said, "Boyfriend? Naa, c'mon -- you're putting me on." And then I just said, "Okay."


And then we dated; we went places -- Pottstown, and stuff like that. I would walk her back and forth to the girls' county. We'd kiss. I'd be kissing her and going around with her.


She used to work in the 'tendants' cafeteria along with me. And I just used to help her out. I used to give her a Christmas present and wrap it up and give it to her. She give me a Christmas present; it was a shirt and gloves. I gave her a radio. And things like that.


And we talked in the school hallway. She would try to get money out of me. She'd ax me, "Do you have any money?" "I don't got no money this time -- maybe next time." She would just keep coming to me about money. And every time I'd bump into her -- "Roland, you have any money? I need to buy something." "Well, I don't have any money this time." And she says, "Oh, please -- you got money." And she kept forcing it out of me. So I gave her ten dollars. Every time I would get paid, I would give her some little bit of money to help her.


And she would be bad in school; she would sit in the principal's office. It was just something. Yeah, she liked me. Me and her used to go skating together, up Pottstown. Well, the girls'd go first and then the boys would go last; we'd meet together up there.


We used to dance together. They had the canteen up there. I used to buy candy and hot dogs and sometimes french fries and hamburgers. I would meet her at the canteen down on the boys' side.


Me and her got along very good, but it was tough for both of us. She would make you laugh, she would; she would make funny jokes. I had nice hair; I had really bushy hair like Michael Jackson when they was small -- bushy hair, long hair -- I left my hair grow. And she would laugh: "Why don't you just get a haircut? Get a haircut?" And everybody would laugh at me. "Oh, look at this; look at this guy; look at this young boy -- he looks like Alfalfa with his hair all crooked up." I think she meant Buckwheat. And she would tease me and her friends would tease me, "Look at that boy." I just got a joke out it. "What are you teasing me for? People's wearing their hair this way." Bush. My hair would just grow out and it was just like bush. My mother come up and see me and she said, "Next time I come up here you better get that hair off." The attendants didn't care -- it was your hair. But sooner or later I hadda got it cut: the barber said, "I couldn't get through all this hair on you with the clippers." I had a comb; I had a part in it and waves.


And we used to be kissing in the hallway in the school. She was a tough one; she was a cookie. I liked the girl. She liked me. I don't know if she just liked me for my money, or what. But I used to talk to her a lot for a year, two years. She would meet these other boys -- I think she was using me, to get money out of me. You know how girls are. Oh, I was about seventeen; she was about eighteen. She'd come into school after I had class; she would meet me in the upstairs hallway. And then the other boys would get jealous. They'd say, "Why was you laughing? Why are you going with him for? He doesn't look right for you! To me, he doesn't look right you going with him. You ought to go with me." I didn't want to get into that, so she stopped seeing me and I stopped seeing her. She would write letters to me. And I would -- 'cause I couldn't write -- I would get somebody to read the letters for me. She says, "I love you and I want you to be my boyfriend." La-la-la. . ."When we get out, if we both get out, we can meet each other," 'cause she lived in Philadelphia. We used to talk about good things -- how we're going to get out: "If you get out before I do, would you give me a call? And if I get out before you, I'll give you a call. And write to me."


Right now, to the day, I don't know where she is. Because I didn't have her address. She was sent there under a court case as a child, sixteen years old she was. She had other sisters; they couldn't get along together. That was about all that she told me. She left first and then I left second. I think she went back to her mother at home. We said that we would call each other, but we never kept up with it. I didn't see her after that. I did say that I would try to stay in contact with her, but it was very hard, to stay in contact with her. She gave me her address and I lost it in the shuffle, because when I left Pennhurst my mother and father came and got me and I lost the book.

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