Friday, July 25, 2014
Mummy Look at My Pretty Marbles
Her auburn hair, green eyes, and tiny turned up nose told Mrs. Jones that the new student sitting in her third grade classroom was certainly the transfer student from Northern Ireland, Rebecca McGuire, whom she had been told to expect this morning.
Becky as she liked to be called, was a quiet little girl, she rarely opened her mouth at home, and she was not about to begin chattering away in front of all these strangers here in America. After all, she had no idea who was Catholic, and who was Protestant.
The teacher asked her to stand up and introduce herself, and she dutifully obeyed the teachers command, but alas she did so with such a thick Irish accent that some of the boys snickered loudly. “Boys! That will be enough!” Mrs. Jones commanded.
“Welcome to America, Rebecca. You may be seated.” Then class resumed.
At recess Becky was off by herself in a corner of the playground when a young boy with dark hair and brown eyes approached her. “Hi, I’m Joel. Do you like to play marbles?”
“Yes, marbles. Here. See?” Joel held out a small glass ball, a “cat’s eye” as it is known in the terminology of marbles. Becky picked it up and gazed deeply into the marble as she wondered aloud, “It’s so beautiful. It looks like a four-leaf clover.” Proudly Joel continued to hold out one marble after another, each more beautiful than the last. For a while Becky lost all the painful memories she had carried with her from “The Troubles” back in Ireland as her eyes drank in every detail of the beautiful glass marbles. Her daydream was only interrupted when Joel said, “Come over here, we’ll shoot them.”
“Shoot them!” Becky exclaimed. “You have a gun? I hope you’re Protestant!”
“No, I’m Jewish, and guns are not allowed at school, silly. Do they bring guns to school in Ireland?”
“The soldiers do. They check your books for bombs as you queue up for school in the morning.”
“Does it bother you that I’m Jewish?” Joel asked.
“No. I mean …er…I don’t know. I’ve never… Well at least your not Catholic, me Mum and Dad would have a fit.”
“Oh, OK. You want to learn how to shoot marbles?” Joel asked. Then he added laughingly, “Without a gun?”
Joel dumped his bag of marbles on the ground and gave Becky six to start her collection with. By the time they had finished their game Becky had won six more. As the end-of-recess bell rang, Becky handed the marbles back to Joel, but he just smiled and said, “Keep them, we’ll play again tomorrow.