Old Jess, and Mack, and Tige

In nineteen thirty I was six,
And started off to school.
A crude book satchel on my back,
With tablet, pen, and rule.

A satchel Mom had made for me
To carry on my back,
Designed by her and fashioned from
A worn out cotton sack.

This Bois D’Arc School had two class rooms,
Two teachers, grades through eight.
‘Twas here that kids from all around
Were sent to educate.

The day I started off to school
With scissors, lunch, and chalk,
I never asked how I’d get there,
I knew! I’d run or walk!

Along the road I had to go
And either walk or jog,
Three families, Weaver, Walker, Wells,
Kept three old ugly dogs!

Three troubled spots along the way
From home to school and back;
Three sturdy, ugly, pitt bull dogs
Named Jess, and Tige, and Mack!

Now Jess was white, and Mack and Tige
Were brindle, tan and gold.
Regardless of their color, each
Struck terror in my soul!

I couldn’t sneak past either one
As hard as I would try.
I’d tiptoe, hold my breath, and pray
That those old dogs had died!

They’d bark and howl, and snort and growl,
I even felt their breath!
They’d show their teeth and run at me,
And scare me half to death!

All day at school my mind was fixed
Upon my journey back.
I knew for sure I’d have to pass
Old Jess, and Tige, and Mack!

I couldn’t concentrate on books,
I couldn’t spell or write.
My brain was burdened with one thought:
“Today, that dog will bite.”

Exhausted, I’d retire at night
And lie down on my side.
All night I’d toss and turn, and run
From Jess, and Mack, and Tige!

They’d run out at me every day
And I would have a fit!
Although encountered twice each day,
I never once got bit.

I have no scars upon my legs
To validate this truth.
But my emotions bear the marks
Of tusk, and fang, and tooth!

A pattern that has followed me
Until this very date
Concerns my inability
To read and concentrate.

I’ll read a book or magazine
As I recline in bed,
Then when I lay the book aside,
I don’t know what I’ve read!

I’ve analyzed this problem and
I think I’ve traced it back
To when I first learned how to read,
While thinking of old Mack!

I had trouble with First Reader,
Although I did my best.
As I would read about old Spot,
I’d think about old Jess!

I’d try to read before the class.
I’d stammer! They would chide!
How little did they know, my mind
Was down the road with Tige.

My education’s faulty, and
My knowledge incomplete.
I can’t diagram a sentence.
I don’t know the parts of speech.

I’m not very good with numbers.
No money in the bank!
I know for sure! I’m positive!
I have those dogs to thank!

When I feel sorry for myself,
And think of where I’ve been,
Can’t blame the great depression for
The shape that I am in!

I rather think I’ve found the cause,
As I go looking back.
My only nemeses in life
Were Jess, and Tige, and Mack!