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We Are The Champions!

During the late 1800s women, who dared to play basketball, were told, by men, to put modesty over practicality because a woman's femininity must be preserved. Therefore, the uniform was to include a floor-length wool skirt. The fact that the players often tripped (on these long skirts) only proved to the men that women were too frail to play a man's game.

I saw a picture of my grandmother, and the high school girls' team, wearing calf-length skirts and "Mary Had A Little Lamb" bloomers, tied modestly at the ankles. The picture was circa 1917. They had just won the girl's high school championship and had their pictures taken sitting up on the spreading limbs of a great tree. My grandmother was not only their teacher, having graduated at age sixteen from the teacher's college, but she was also their Player/Coach. The team won that final game by a score of 26-6. My grandmother scored ALL of their points. And, yes, that is a true story.

I was the first grandchild born. When my grandmother's Bridge Club friends asked what she would have me call her, she replied, "Mrs. Pearson." She later relented and agreed to the title, Mama Dru (short for Drucilla). Until the ninth (and last grandchild) NO ONE called her grandma.

Mama Dru raised her own family through the Great Depression and continued to live as though still in the depression for the rest of her life. She would buy (or better yet, be gifted) a box of greeting cards and use them up before buying more. I remember, when I was sixteen, receiving a birthday card from her. Actually, the card read "Happy Anniversary To The Two Of You" but she had crossed out Anniversary and written in Birthday. She also crossed out The Two Of. Inserted into the envelope, along with the card, was a crisp five-dollar bill. I imagine she winced as she let go of the money. She would also watch for great deals. I remember her buying a case of canned peas and then being upset that no one wanted even one can of peas.

As she aged she became even more of a, shall we say, character. One day, in her late eighties, she drove to the local store. As she was backing out of her parking space she hit the curb. Heading home, a VW Bug started following her, beeping its little VW Bug horn. Finally, she stopped and a very angry VW Bug driver got out and began yelling at her. Apparently, it wasn't the curb she had hit...She had to make a court appearance. Mama Dru had to pay a fine, get a lecture, and be placed on a six-month probation. When we asked what happened in court she told us, "The judge made me pay a fine and now I am on six month's parole. Her kids sold her car. That was the end of her driving career.

Mama Dru was born in 1899 and she died in 2000 at the age of 101. Just think about the wars she saw and the depression she survived. She saw everyone in the country eventually get telephones, electricity, refrigerators, and bathrooms. She saw the evolution of flight, all the way to the moon.

Her last decade was not kind to her. All of her friends were gone. She broke her hip and never fully recovered. Dementia began to take over. But, even then, I could see the interesting individual that was Mama Dru. When OJ Simpson was going through his courtroom ordeal she remarked to us, "That's too bad. He was always so nice. You know, he dated my sister" (in the 1920s).

I would have liked to have met that spunky seventeen-year-old teacher, who led her girls to the championship while living in a man's world.

The pendant watch

gifted to Mama Dru

upon her graduation from the teacher's college.


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