I Got Nits
George A. Yesthal
Dedicated to the loving memory of my mom.
This story is true and was related to me by my mother who had absolutely no talent for embellishment.
The day, as I understand it, started out in the usual way, with family breakfast, packed lunch buckets and out the door for the six block walk to school in South Ozone Park, Queens, N.Y. Mom had two older sisters, Anne and Marjorie, who were talking about some kind of “inspection” scheduled for that day, but Dolly never got the gist of it.
Upon arrival at school, Lorraine (Dolly) Norman (my mom) hung up her coat and in the process, realized that something was different that day as the school administrators were huddled in the hallway in covert conversation. As soon as she and the rest of the class were sated the teacher informed them that they were to line up single file and then marched the whole class down to the nurses office where they waited patiently to be ushered in two by two to have their scalps probed and inspected. Upon leaving the nurses office they were issued a mimeographed slip of paper with several boxes on it to be checked or not.
On Dolly’s slip was checked, NO LICE and NO NITS.
The normal daily curriculum followed but at lunch-time Dolly overheard covert whisperings that so-and-so had nits. It was repeated several times throughout the day and Dolly recognized the name of this person because they were in the same class. Finally, just before leaving that afternoon, she overheard the principal and her teacher speaking in somewhat emotional terms about this classmate of hers, having nits. She looked at the slip given her by the nurse’s aide and to her disappointment it read: NO LICE and NO NITS My mom promptly tore up the slip and discarded it. Why couldn’t she have “nits”?
At supper that night the, usual family conversation was shared about the day’s events and Nana and Papa shared items of interest from the Daily News. My mom couldn’t wait for a lull in the conversation but when one came she proudly announced, “I got nits, the teacher told me I got nits.”
Well I guess you can imagine how promptly dinner was concluded after that. Post haste my mom was hauled out to the shed where her hair was cut to what Mom referred to thereafter as “boy-length” and her head was scrubbed with kerosene and a wire brush.
I can honestly say that I have never known my mother to lie. I guess I know why.