I was five at the time; my sister Vivian would have been seven. We both were attending the same school in Grinnell Iowa: Cooper Elementary. Cooper Elementary no longer exists but a newer Fareway grocery store has been built over the site.
In those days, 1960, girls wore dresses to school. If for some reason the weather was bitterly cold, pants could be worn under the dress. There were strict dress codes for all students.
This took place after our mother left us; Dad had custody of four young children; he worked at Donaldson's factory in Grinnell while raising four kids in a cold, old farmhouse. During that first winter, Grandma Taylor came up from Missouri to help with the household chores and be there when we arrived home on the bus.
Vivian brought home a note from her teacher one day asking if she could stay after school. The teacher had said she would bring her home. Permission was granted. Discipline? Extra help on homework? No: shopping.
Vivian remembers her teachers name, Mrs. Neighbors and the act. She took this little seven year old, who didn't have a decent dress at the time, up town and bought her a simple red dress.
I have often thought of the impact this wonderful gesture by a kind, sensitive teacher must have made on this young child who must have missed out on a mother's fussing over her school clothes for her.
Reminder to me: Watch for opportunities to create a "Red Dress" moment in the lives of children. Acts of kindness to a seven year old that needs a little extra love may become one the pillars that could shape a child's perspective all their lives.
I know: I remember; and I know my sister remembers too.
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