Scene4-International Magazine of Arts and Culture
Claudine Jones-Scene4 Magazine

Claudine Jones


I started out this morning thinking maybe I'll follow a random thought see where it goes and the first thing that came up was writing! However that quickly morphed into Mr. Herbert and other memories so then I thought how about a column honoring people some of whom disappeared into the Myst who knows where they are what they're doing and how about some surprises as well? So here goes.

Wow this is harder than it seemed when I first thought of it... I'm now trying to arrange things in chronological order and they're going so fast I'm afraid I'll forget half of them so I have to not think that's what I have to do. So here goes again.

Of course every time I try to form paragraphs I have to stop my flow and hit the little X so that I can get an actual keyboard so that I can hit carriage return. That's slowing me down. Maybe I should just forget paragraphs.

But I can't do that the writer in me just won't let me it doesn't look right one giant slab of words it needs to be more precise. So let's start with Mr. Herbert why not? Mr. Herbert. The first thing I have to say about him is that he probably was not a healthy man he sweated a lot and I remember standing relatively close to him I was probably 4 inches shorter at that point cuz he was not a tall man looking into his dark eyes and seeing all the hairs in his black eyebrows. Ethnically I think he was I don't know... what is Herbert? I don't know his first name don't remember. I'm going to go ahead and say Jewish but it doesn't really mean anything cuz it wasn't something that anybody ever talked about. Talk about separation of church and state. No Mr. Herbert was my 8th grade teacher and he's the one who jump-started me into writing... aside from my mother who taught me to underline a title... no Mr. Herbert was so passionate about books and spelling and grammar you could just see the excitement coming off of him in waves and he wouldn't tolerate somebody talking the same time he was if you interrupted shouted out or something like that it didn't go well he would put on his super serious face and although he never exhibited outright anger like scary anger it was clear that if you wanted to get anything done in that class you had to pay attention listen produce you can't be a slacker not if you wanted to come out the other end with something to be proud of. I love you Mr. Herbert wherever you are and I don't think you're here anymore but I totally loved the way you taught us. Press X and carriage return.

Alright what else is there? Well there's the 4 year old who started out by peeing through our screendoor to introduce himself and absconded with me took me to a local Shopping Center when I was 2 years old which you would think I wouldn't remember because I was so little but I do have a picture in my mind of being on the sidewalk and watching cars racing by that's pretty well it. But I think I talked about that already so let's switch now we're in California when I was 4... that wonderful Navy housing which had so many nooks and crannies places to play... that's where my mother found her first sewing machine in America sitting out by the garbage cans around the side of the building an iron treadle machine that somebody had left there worked just fine... to this day she doesn't understand why somebody would throw something like that away it crystallized the American Zeitgeist for her but that's a tangent. Now I'm talking about a kid whose name I couldn't remember if I tried I totally would have to make it up Fred Freddy Jimmy I have no idea just call him Zippy anyway I followed Zippy one day I think it was down the block I'm not quite getting the geography since there were so many apartments not really Apartments they were two-story Flats anyway I was following Zippy for some unknown reason maybe just because kids follow kids anyway I had the intention of being alone with him. I cannot tell you why maybe why is not a useful question I can tell you that the feelings were very intense I had followed him I was pursuing him I was stalking him and when I finally found him we went literally underneath the building which was not like our building because there was no underneath on our building this was like that building was on short stilts or something anyway it was dirty...middle of the day so you could still see but yet kind of spooky and dark and I got in there with him and this is hard part I admit this is the hard part I tried to take his pants down. I was very specific about what I wanted. I wanted into his pants. Once I was in there I have no idea what I would have done but his mom found us and she whisked him away. That's it that's all I remember I don't think she ratted me out maybe she did but I didn't get in trouble. I just remembered the intensity of the feeling. So Zippy this is for you I'm sorry I don't think I traumatized you I hope I didn't but I think I was following up on something that it happened to me so... let's not get into that. Hit X and carriage return.

Maybe I should honor Nancy next. The first time I saw her was in Middle School she had come from the local high school with several others from the drama class with Mr. Gray. They presented a short program... Sweet Betsy from Pike. Oh I was so mesmerized. I wanted to be up there in the worst way and the funny thing after all these years she was only 2 years older than me so that means she was a sophomore in high school and I was in 8th grade and I felt like the entire time that we later spent together both on and off stage that she's always been so much more mature, so adult to my child and the only explanation is that that's just who she is. And of course she would laugh at that because one of the great things about her is that she is so Larger than Life and so goofy and so big in spirit that doesn't translate as age it just translates as impressive so here's to Nancy who snatched some parts from me but who was certainly supportive in my Endeavors always gave me encouragement the damn problem is that I just wanted to be a little less me and a little more her. And she's a grandma now just like me and we both know that that's the most important thing. Hey Nancy! Hit X carriage return.

Okay who's next now this is weird I have veered off into my own family I feel like I should say something about my older brother who has always had to fill up some kind of weird role as my Big Brother. I noticed the other night at the Chinese restaurant when we were having my mother's 95th birthday party there were 10 of us around a big table we went for Chinese because my mother likes the beer there... anyway he wrote her a birthday card which I don't do cuz I don't do cards just never really got into that to my daughter-in-law's dismay because she comes from a military family and they always write cards for everything...that's another brother was outside the restaurant filling in this card just before we went into our table and then we were giving her things and she was passing them around the table so when the card got to me I was all the way across the table from my brother and I read it like everybody did and it had the sweetest sort of retro kind of homage saying things to her about the past and how he remembers x and I don't know it was just sweet very lovely. And then I thought oh my God she has spent so much time in the last several months complaining about how angry he is and how he picks fights with her and he's a very unhappy man and to myself I laugh because I remember him playing in the dirt next to our building in Richmond that Navy housing playing cars in the dirt and making roads with his hand and then of course the time that he was busy scooping the dirt and he ran into a sharp safety pin it went right into his meat of his hand and his palm and we had to go to the doctor and the doctor tried to get it out but part of the pin broke off in his hand and then it migrated up to his wrist and disappeared. So that's what I remember Mom I don't remember an angry man I remember a kid sucking it up because it must have hurt like hell but he didn't cry.

Hit X and carriage return.

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Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.
She writes a monthly column and is
a Senior Writer for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2018 Claudine Jones
©2018 Publication Scene4 Magazine




May 2018

Volume 18 Issue 12

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