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Shumate column: The magic bridge

Once upon a time, a second child was born to Grace and David Thompson at 211 E. Fisher St. in Salisbury.
It was Oct. 20, 1943, and that child was me.
It was a difficult delivery for Grace.
Dr. Spencer told her, “No more births at home.”
The following three children were hospital babies.
I guess you might say this was the beginning of my being a somewhat difficult child. As soon as I began to walk and talk, I started some “innocent” antics.
My mother had a Singer pedal sewing machine that I was fascinated with. My curiosity piqued one day, and I caught my left hand and arm in one of the wheels as I was hand pedaling with the right one.
The fire department was located just around the corner on Lee Street, and a fireman was summoned to rescue me.
Another time, I plugged in our wringer-type washing machine and crawling atop a chair to investigate the alluring motion of the revolving rollers that the laundry passed through to the rinse tubs. My mother saved me this time after I screamed for mercy as my little fingers began a journey between the rollers, my hand and arm following close behind.
It was not surprising that my little legs often resembled peppermint sticks as a result of the switchings I received and surely deserved.
When I reached school age, my parents had high hopes my mischievousness would subside. I was a big girl now, and was going to walk the four blocks to A.T. Allen Elementary School. I had only one busy street, East Innes, to cross and was assisted there by a city police officer and the school safety patrol.
Midway in my journey, I would cross the Fisher Street wooden bridge, and often stopped if a train was passing underneath. I loved to watch and ride trains. I guess that was partly because my daddy worked for the railroad and rode the rails to Atlanta and back as a brakeman and baggage master.
My first-grade teacher was Janie Brown. and Ruth Uzzell was my second. I love both of them and went out of my way to be a model student. I still have my report cards from those years and now chuckle when I read their comments sent home to my parents with my quarterly grades.
For example, “Margaret is doing wonderfully in her work,” “Gets along with with other students” and “Is such a pleasure to have in my class.”
Now, wait a minute!
Are we talking about the same Margaret with the candy cane legs ó the one who straps on her skates and skates through the house when she doesn’t get her way?
Once at a parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Uzzell bragged to my mother that I was satisfied with anything less than my best in all subjects, and how she loved me and admired by upbringing. Mother thanked her but said she had a little problem with that evaluation.
She added that the only explanation she could furnish for the discrepancy was that I must make daily stops under the Fisher Street bridge and perform magical exchanges from horns to wings, and vice versa.
My demeanor at home improved somewhat as I grew older, but there were still times I liked to challenge my parents and four siblings. I wouldn’t say I was bad to the bone, but I did manage to help keep the hedge bushes behind our house pruned and healthy.
Margaret Shumate lives in Salisbury.

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