Essay on Growing Up Poor

1820 Words Oct 22nd, 2012 8 Pages
Growing up Poor
I did not realize until about the 5th grade, what being poor was all about. From kindergarten until then, kids didn’t really pay attention to what you wore to school, what type of home you lived in, or what your parents did for a living. What mattered was how nice you were, that you shared your toys, and took turns on the playground.
Fifth grade started a whole new chapter in life. It started with a new school with both familiar and unfamiliar faces and with that, new challenges that included trying to fit in with your peers. Not until I started getting questions like, “You get free lunch? How?” or being stared at while standing in the ‘free lunch line’ as it was called in school, did I realize that I was different
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I had to go to school for that. I was about seven years old when I got my first big lesson. I was in love with a little girl named Helene Tucker, a light-complexioned little girl with pigtails and nice manners. She was always clean and she was smart in school. I think I went to school then mostly to look at her. I brushed my hair and even got me a little old handkerchief. It was a lady's handkerchief, but I didn't want Helene to see me wipe my nose on my hand.
The pipes were frozen again, there was no water in the house, but I washed my socks and shirt every night. I'd get a pot, and go over to Mister Ben's grocery store, and stick my pot down into his soda machine and scoop out some chopped ice. By evening the ice melted to water for washing. I got sick a lot that winter because the fire would go out at night before the clothes were dry. In the morning I'd put them on, wet or dry, because they were the only clothes I had.
Everybody's got a Helene Tucker, a symbol of everything you want. I loved her for her goodness, her cleanness, her popularity. She'd walk down my street and my brothers and sisters would yell, "Here comes Helene," and I'd rub my tennis sneakers on the back of my pants and wish my hair wasn't so nappy and the white folks' shirt fit me better. I'd run out on the street. If I knew my place and didn't come too close, she'd wink at me and say hello. That was a good feeling. Sometimes I'd follow her all the way home, and shovel the snow off her

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