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A NOTE ABOUT A HORSE



Okay, you smaller kids stand over to the side and wait until you have been assigned to someone," said the matron as she walked down the line of children, shoving us up against the wall with her hand.

Once again, it was Christmas and the Jacksonville Kiwanis Club came to the orphanage to take us kids shopping. Each of us smaller children was given $2 to spend however we wished. The older orphans were given $5.

At last, all the children were loaded into the 15 or so automobiles and off to downtown Jacksonville we headed. What a wonderful sight it was to see all the Christmas decorations hanging from each and every lamp pole. Hundreds, upon hundreds of brightly lit stores lined the streets. Each was beautifully decorated with Christmas trees of every size and shape. Many of the stores had wax figures dressed up like Santa Clause and his elves. How wonderful and how glorious it was to see such beautiful things.

"Okay, boys. If we are going to take in a movie this year, we have to get our shopping done," said the man.

"But I need to find a special glass horse for Mother Winters' horse collection," I said.

"Aren't you supposed to spend the money on yourself?" asked the man.

"I know, but I need to get a horse" I told him.

Let's go see what we can find," the man said as he rubbed the hair on the top of my head.

Walking as fast as we could, we traveled from store to store. All at once, there it was sitting on a shelf before me - a beautiful glass horse standing up on its back two legs. Slowly, I walked over to the eight-inch statue and picked it up.

"Mother Winters will love this. It is so beautiful," I said aloud.

That should be the pride of her collection," he said.

I smiled real proud like and handed the horse to the man. Carefully, he carried it over to the counter and sat it down. I took out my $2 and laid it on the counter.

"That is the prettiest horse I have ever seen," said the lady behind the counter. "That will be $2.49," she told the man as she rang it up.

"I don't think I have that much, do I?" I asked the man.

"Don't worry about it," he said and pulled some change from his pocket.

The glass horse was wrapped in tissue paper and place in a paper sack.

After going to the movies, we kids were returned to the orphanage. All night long, I got out of my bed and opened my locker. I took the glass horse and walked down to the bathroom so I could see it in the light.

"Mother Winters is really going to love me now," I thought as I looked at myself in the mirror.

The next morning, I rubbed the horse down with my pajamas. I wanted it to be clean, shiny and new when I gave the gift to the head matron at breakfast time. I took a small piece of notebook paper, wrote her a special note and signed it "Roger Dean." It took me two hours and I had to write it three times to get the note just right, without any mistakes. Then I folded it and wrapped it around the horse's neck.

How proud I was as all 27 of us boys marched two abreast over to the large dining room. When we arrived, I walked over to Mother Winters' position and placed the glass horse down on the table. Then I walked to my table and stood behind my chair waiting for Mother Winters to enter the room.

Several minutes later, she entered the large dining room. She walked over to her chair and looked down at the glass horse. Her expression never changed. She reached out and pushed the glass horse toward the center of the table. When she did, it fell over. I watched her as she picked up the silver dinner bell and rang it three times. All we children pulled out our chairs and sat down to eat our breakfast. I watched her the entire time we were eating. I wanted to see if she would stand the horse up so everyone could see how pretty it was, but she acted as if it was not even there.

When the dinner bell rang again, we kids filed out onto the breezeway porch and sat on the metal chairs. After the girls had cleared the dining room of dishes, it was the boys' job to empty the large garbage cans. Billy Stroud and I headed to the back of the kitchen to pull the garbage cans outside so the larger boys could empty them. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the glass horse lying in one of the garbage cans with its front leg broken off.

"I guess a horse ain't no good with a broken leg," said Billy.

I began to dig through the food as fast as I could, trying to find the other leg to the horse. I never did find it, but I did find the note I had written. It had been wadded up and thrown away also.

I took the horse back to my dormitory where I cleaned it up as best I could. I cried for days about what had happened. Everyone thought I was upset because she broke the horse's leg when it fell over on the table. It was not the horse at all. I had only bought the pretty glass horse so she would have to read my note that told her "I LOVE YOU."



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