“Hi kids, I’m Emily Chalmers Gordon. I decided to keep a diary for my friends about my Gramma’s stories. Gramma is THE BEST storyteller. At first it was really strange to think of Gramma as eight-years-old, but when she told her stories, Becky came to life. It’s kind of like fantasy—I’m put in a transporter and taken to a different world.”
“I go to Miss Lisa’s Private School in Yardley, Pennsylvania. My Gramma picks me up every day when school is out. Gramma lives in Yardley, where she’s always lived. It is a long ride in her car to our family’s apartment. It used to seem like it took forever to get home from Yardley, but Gramma and I made a pact: I won’t play video games or talk on my cell phone: Gramma won’t listen to the oldies radio station. Instead, Gramma tells me stories about the things she did when she was eight-years-old like me. Back then everyone called her Becky Chalmers. I look forward to these stories so much that it seems like we get home in a twinkle.
On October sixth, Mommy, Gramma and I got a special treat. Mommy took off work early and fixed herself up real pretty. We’re going to a photographer to have a three-generational portrait. Gramma said if she had time, she would have turned my ponytail into baloney curls, and that reminded her of a new story to tell me. (Gramma said you can make baloney curls easy now-a-days with a good curling iron.)
I turned on Daddy’s old digital voice recorder that he gave me. Gramma was warmed up and ready to go.
Becky always got a doll for her birthday and Christmas. Her mother was intent on Becky being like herself when she was a child. Jackie loved her dolls and was lavishly provided with them by her father as she grew up. Jackie’s dolls were all named Becky, a name she eventually gave to her newborn daughter. Becky’s dolls were Chatty Cathy, Tiny Tears, and a curly-haired baby doll she named Sally. Two of her new favorites were Shirley Temple and Barbie.
Sharon had all the same dolls. The two little girls were quietly playing on a blanket with their Shirley Temple dolls in Becky’s front yard.
“I love Shirley’s baloney curls,” Sharon said.
Beverly Evans, who was a few years older than Becky and Sharon, sauntered over to see what trouble she could make.
“I’m going to hide my Shirley,” Sharon said. She did so quickly, quicker than Becky.
“Hi, Becky,” Beverly Evans said. “Are you playing with your Shirley Temple doll?”
“Yes, Shirley is so very cute,” Becky said.
“I can make her even cuter,” Beverly Evans said. “You better let me do that.”
Becky, trying to be a big girl like Beverly Evans, said, “Here, do it.”
Beverly Evans took a comb out of her pocket and began to comb out Shirley’s baloney curls. When she finished, Shirley’s, hair was ragged and straight as a pin.
“There, she looks modern,” Beverly Evans said. “She does not!” Becky shouted. “You ruined her.” Beverly Evans began to laugh.
Becky said. “That Beverly Evans is the meanest person I know. We have to get even with her.”
“You can’t fight her. She’s too big and she might punch you in the stomach,” warned Sharon.
The two girls went into Becky’s house and climbed the stairs to Becky’s bedroom. Becky had the biggest bedroom in the house with a lovely window seat. The window seat was a safe perch. Beverly Evans was still on the sidewalk teasing some other kids.
“We need to do something to show her how bad she is. I have an idea,” Becky said, thinking of the absolute insult.
“This is what we have to do,” Becky said. “We have to stick our naked behinds out of the window at Beverly Evans.”
And so, two naked behinds were prominently displayed out of the upstairs window of the window seat.
“Now, that Beverly Evans is getting what she deserves,” Becky said.
A blue Dodge Dart station wagon pulled next to the curb in front of Becky’s house. Jim Chalmers got out and saw a group of neighborhood kids looking up at his house. He too looked up to see two small bare bottoms plainly displayed out of the window of his daughter’s bedroom. He charged into his house and up the stairs taking two steps at a time.
“Jackie!” shouted Jim to his wife who was downstairs making dinner. “You’ll never guess what Becky did.”
“Mommy, we were mad with Beverly Evans. Look what she did to my new Shirley Temple doll Jackie, quite angry, persuaded most of her immediate neighbors to boycott Beverly Evans.
A few days after the boycott began, a friendless Beverly Evans gave Becky her own Shirley Temple doll, baloney curls intact.
“Oh Gramma,” I said, “I would never show my naked behind to anyone.” I thought, I better not tell Mommy and Daddy this story. They already think Gramma has too much free spirit. But Gramma and her mommy did find a good way to tame that bully.”
Adapted from The Sparkling Adventures of Becky and Friends,
By Diane Campbell Green, Illustrated by Linda E. Jones,
Published by Covenant Books, 2021
Available at DCGBooks.com