Memory is a complex subject. Our image or memory of an event may not match the memory of other observers. The dawn of memory is strange because we remember traumatic events first, then what seems more like a complete record years later. For example, I can remember the day we got new carpet in Kindergarten. I was spanked in class by our teacher, Mrs. Cobb, because I had an accident and messed up the brand new carpet. I didn’t like being the object of ridicule, I wanted instead to fit in. So events from early childhood, that have been filed away in memory and can still be recalled are often more than memories, they are in many cases character or personality molding events. I have almost no memory of 1st or 2nd grade, but I had my 15 minutes of glory in 3rd grade. Very near the end of the school year the teacher, Mrs. Long (my picture of Mrs. Long is that she was an unusually short woman), put a long division problem on the black board. We had been doing two digit multiplication problems up to that point so this was our first exposure to the process. The teacher asked if anyone could do it and sure enough, the usual suspects raised their hands. After the second child failed, the teacher asked if anyone else would like to try. I raised my hand. As I was walking up, I was so nervous I was shaking. But, I performed the process correctly, placed the chalk in the rack and walked proudly back to my seat. The class applauded. I did not realize it then, but my 15 minutes was over. It is in 3rd grade my memory of classmates starts. I remember Mark Bailey, his hair was always combed perfectly and he was good at sports. I remember a girl named Sally, she was very friendly. On Valentines’ Day, a day each of us in the class was to bring in cards for our friends, Sally brought in very expensive cards for each and every one in the class. During the time the cards were being passed out, the teacher came over to me and softly told me that if I had any unsigned cards, would I please make one out for Sally. I looked over to Sally, she was sitting at her desk, hands on her cheeks, tears in her eyes. Nobody, not one person had brought a card for Sally. Quickly I made out a card, I even put a note on it and gave it to the teacher (who had collected two or three other cards) and watched as the teacher brought first one, then another and then another card to Sally. When she got mine, she looked over with a big smile an waved. I was happy but I was ashamed. And, oh yes, I remember Leroy. He sat in the row next to mine, two seats back. Leroy was different. First, you must realize that Leroy was the ugliest boy I ever saw. When you first laid eyes on Leroy, you turned your head away, he was so ugly. You may think I am mean or unkind, but you cannot understand Leroy unless you get the picture - he was hard to look at. I had nothing to do with Leroy in 3rd grade, but he is there, in my memory. In 4th grade, I started developing friendships with a few of my classmates. We dressed alike. Now remember it is in the early 1950’s, so we wore white “T’ shirts, Levi pants (worn a little low), black canvas tennis shoes, and each of us sported a short haircut, mine was a butch, but many of my friends had flattops. This was the time of the “Beatniks” and everyone wanted to be cool. We walked alike, talked alike and we scorned the square. Leroy was a square. We wore our “T” shirts, sometimes with the sleeves rolled up. He wore plaid shirts with long sleeves. Nobody ever buttoned the top button of his shirt at school, but Leroy did. Nobody wore a hat, but Leroy did. It was dirty and the bill was too long. Leroy just was not cool. God had given me a quick wit, and I had a personality that was ever ready to supply a glib answer to any situation. When Leroy walked, he sort of bounced up and down so you could see him coming through a crowd. That hat, popping up and down among the short hair cuts was a dead give-a-way. So, when we passed, and he said “Hi”, I was ready with “Catch you later, alligator” or some other put-down. One day, right at the start of our lunch period as I was walking past the lunch benches toward the ball field, Leroy surprised me. He was sitting on a bench. If I would have seen him from a distance, I would have taken another route. He asked me if I wanted to eat lunch with him. I smiled, thinking fast, then told him I played ball during lunch, and had to go. I broke into a trot and waved as I took off, leaving him alone on the bench. Time passed and the summer ending my 4th grade finally came. I lived near a park quite a distance from my elementary school so my summer friends were different than my school friends. I never saw Leroy during the summer. The next year was much like the last. Same school, same friends, same mode of dress, same outlook on life. But Leroy was not in my class and he was not in the other 5th grade class either. I remember thinking, “Great, now I will not have to dodge Leroy anymore.” Just a short time later, I found out about Leroy. During the summer, Leroy had been given a puppy. Now the puppy loved Leroy and Leroy loved the puppy. The puppy would play with him. The puppy would eat with him. The puppy would wag his tail when he saw Leroy coming toward him. One day, when Leroy and his puppy were playing on a grassy area next to Artesia Boulevard, Leroy threw a ball and it rolled into the street. The puppy ran after the ball, to retrieve it for the boy he loved. The boy ran after the puppy, to save him from the oncoming traffic. Both were killed. I also found out why Leroy was so ugly. When he was just a tyke, not yet in Kindergarten, he accidentally pulled a pan of boiling fluid off a stove, covering him from heat to toe. Leroy wore a hat because about half his hair was missing, and in its place was an ugly scar. His face was scarred as well. He wore that plaid shirt to cover the scars on his body. The long sleeves covered the scars on his arms. Top button was buttoned to hide the scars on his neck. And so, because of a horrible accident, he had been scarred on the outside. Inside, of course, he was just a little boy, a lot like me. Except he needed friendship and was given scorn, and I who deserved scorn was blessed by knowing him. Be kind to one another is a warning from the Good Shepherd, wouldn’t it have been nice if I had heeded it?