One Last Ride

August 14, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

The sun rose at the usual time and I was all ready awake. It was my last day delivering newspapers and you may be surprised to know, the thought leaves me saddened. The few weeks I have been at the job are insignificant in so many ways, but I have truly enjoyed the work. The only downside has been the constant care to ensure nobody suspects I am not a boy. The last day is upon me, so I believe it is safe to say in that regard I have succeeded.

I dressed in my uniform carefully, taking care to give no doubt to my gender on this last day. I paused looking in the mirror at my boyishly short hair and realized I hardly needed to worry about the hat. Most of the boys only wore their hats in the newspaper office. I was teased more than once for wearing mine all the time, but I did notice the Boss liked that about me. Father says it is a sign of professionalism.

It is odd to think my father sees me as a professional of sorts. He is not what you would typically think of in regards to a man supporting women’s equality. Of course he does not see it as equality, he simply thinks I am an exceptional woman. Mother might disagree on the terminology, but in essence, on this they agree. I am not suited to the role of my mother and that leaves few choices for me in the world. The Rockefeller’s have given me hope thought and perhaps I can make my own place.

As soon as I walked outside I knew it would be a hot day. The sky was crisp blue and not even lofty wisps of clouds dared to clutter it. Steam rose up from the street as I sat out on my bicycle for my last ride of the summer. I could not help but take in every sight and sound of the city. I will miss it too soon enough. The corner bakery was just opening as I dropped their paper on the sidewalk. Mr. Cooper smiled and waved to me.

Only too soon did I find my route finished and I was standing on the front steps of the newspaper office. Time to collect my final pay and say my goodbyes and thanks. I left feeling that I would be genuinely missed and I was beaming with pride the whole way home as a result of the Boss slipping me an extra five dollar bill to help with school expenses. I promised to come back next summer if he would have me.

It is funny how things change and how quickly they do. Only a few weeks ago I was concerned, nearly convince, I would not be going back to Primrose College. Now, I not only know I am going back this year, I know I am going back next year and the year after. I can think about the future with certainty, I can make plans and not be worried that I will not be able to keep my promises.

I arrived home shortly before noon and quickly changed into more feminine apparel. Sylvia laughed at me. She fails to see why I bother with my hair as it is and although I will not readily admit it to her, I can see her point well enough. She has been kind enough to help as well, by making me some hats to wear at school so it will not be noticeable. Mother had suggested buying me a couple but father had insisted that if I needed a hat bad enough I could purchase it myself with my summer money. What he is really saying is he thinks I have a lesson to learn in all of this and if I get teased a little it will do me more good than harm.

I appreciate the effort Sylvia went to and I will make use of the hats, they are considerably better than I could have made and probably nicer than anything I could have afforded to purchase. However, had she not done me the favor, I would not have wasted money on a single hat. It is not that I agree with my father’s point of view, I just do not fear the criticism of my peers. If they dare have any comment about my hair I am certain I can think of a few responses to make them feel as shamed as they would be attempting to make me.

The approval of others is nice, but it does not rule my days. If it did I would never have wanted to go back to Primrose College at all. My father still has his concerns about my attendance but he keeps them mostly to himself. I can sympathize with his thoughts.

“Mind yourself while you are at school this year.” Father said over dinner.

“Of course.” I replied.

“Not of course young lady, pay attention. You got yourself involved with the wrong sorts of people last year. You ended up smack in the middle of school politics and that is not going to happen again, because if it does, I will haul you away from that school and you won’t ever be going back. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir. I have not intention of involving myself further in the inner workings of the school. I have more important goals in my education and not the time or patience to deal with politics.”

“See that you remember that.”

“I will.”

“You better.”

“I will.”

He glared at me and for a moment I glared back. I realized I was pushing my luck but it was far from the first time we had the conversation. We agree, albeit for entirely different reason, but the important part is we are in agreement. Father sometimes does not see it that way. With my mother he could easily get her to go along with whatever his thinking or logic is on an issue. Not so with me. I develop my own logic and once I have, I am not easily swayed from my opinion.

Mother says it is because I am stubborn, I like to think it is because I am right.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Ashley, love the last line.
Warm hugs,