I am Dorothy

Patti Livingston Remembers

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My mom and Patti were friends since before I was born.  Patti and I have been friends for years.  She kindly sent me her memory of her first meeting with my mom over sixty years ago.  I publish her account here with love,

Remembering Dorothy

(c) 2004 Patti Livingston

     Whisking around briskly, the girl at the desk in front of me smiled broadly as I sat down.  “Hi! You’re new aren’t you?  I’m Dorothy Raitt,”  she said.  Warm interest beamed from her smile and sparked from behind steel-rimmed glasses.

     “Yes, I just moved here this summer.”  I smiled back, feeling comforted.  This was my first class on the first day of my senior year in high school, and even though I had changed schools more than a dozen times in the past eleven years, I always felt a little apprehension when I faced a new encounter.

     “Well, welcome to Santa Ana High.”  Her dark-blond hair was poufed softly back from a broad forehead and her wide smile, emphasized by a bright shade of lipstick such as we all wore in the 1940’s, was genuinely friendly.  I leaned forward a little to respond, but just then a young woman with an armful of books came in the door and set them on her desk, nodding pleasantly to the class.  Dorothy turned to face the front and I leaned back and picked up a pencil.  Class had begun.
     It’s a wonder all of us in that room didn’t hear bells ringing, bugles blowing, shouts, cheers, and alarms!  The unfolding year before us should have had audible pre-echoes, fan-fares, and sirens sounding back from the future.  We were soon to have our lives strongly impacted, indeed, dramatically metamorphosed by imminent influences: this teacher, this class, burgeoning world events, and budding friendships to last a lifetime.
     By the end of class, I was excited.  As I gathered my notebook and sweater, Dorothy turned and spoke to me again.  “She’s wonderful!”  she exclaimed.  “Isn’t she wonderful?”  Enthusiasm crackled in the very air around her and I thought I might feel an electric current if I touched her.  

     But the same eagerness filled my mind and I grinned.  “Yes! Creative Writing is going to be my favorite class!”  I pulled out my schedule.  “Civics next. Which way is Room 110?”
     “I’ll show you.  It’s on my way.  Where did you live before?”  As we walked down the hall, she plied me with getting-acquainted questions.  She listened to my answers as if they really mattered to her.  At the door of Room 110, she paused with me.  “Did you bring your lunch?”  she asked.  I nodded.  “Meet me by the Office at
noon a
nd I’ll show you a good spot to eat.”
     “Thanks!  I will.”
     She gave me an ‘okay’ sign, thumb and forefinger touching in a small salute, and swung off down the hall exchanging greetings and laughter with other students.  I turned into my classroom feeling lucky to have met her.

I had no idea. . . .