“Lucky Archie,” New Era, Sept. 1973, 35
Archie noticed the red-orange reflection in the mirror as he walked through the family room on his way out the door. He had seen that color thousands of times in his life. He had grown fondly accustomed to the vibrant orange hue that surrounded his roundish face. Every time Archie looked in the mirror he was reminded of the fact that he was not only a redhead, he was the personification of the brightest, most intense, flaming red that ever graced the top of a young man’s head.
He recalled several years earlier when he was living with his parents in Africa that people would pat him on the head because they thought red hair was an omen of good luck—a symbol of good fortune.
His pleasant reflection was startled by the “MEEOOOP!” of the horn from the enchanted yellow bus that would carry him to his first day of junior high.
Archie anxiously gathered his books and papers and rushed to the front door where he was greeted by a proud reception line composed of his mother, his two little brothers, his grandmother, and his dad. After all, it isn’t every day that the oldest son in the family takes off for the first day of junior high. A little embarrassed and hurried, Archie kissed his mom on the cheek, waved to his grandma and brothers, and shook his dad’s hand as he galloped off to his new adventure.
Archie slipped through the folding doors of the bus, only to find himself staring into the faces of dozens of different and older students who would also be attending Jefferson Junior High School.
With a sigh of relief he focused on Jimmy, his best friend, who had saved a seat for him by the window.
Archie plomped into the seat as the bus rumbled down the road. Jimmy said, “Greg said that we’d better watch out today at school or he and his ninth grade friends will sit us on the fountain or write on us with lipstick.”
Archie asked, “Why do they do that?”
“He said it is called initiation to junior high. Sort of like when you have to do something scary to join a club.”
While Archie’s face showed no fear, he suddenly became intensely aware of the bigger kids at the back of the bus who were laughing and joking.
Finally the bus halted in front of the big sign that said Jefferson Junior High. As he and Jimmy jumped down from the bus, his combined excitement, joy, fear, and anticipation made his heart thump twice as fast as normal.
As he reached the top of the stairs he pulled open the big metallic doors that led into a whole new world. He gazed down the hall and saw hundreds of jostling, laughing, bustling students who all seemed to know where to go and what to do. Even his friend Jimmy had wandered down the hall on his own. Now Archie was alone in the strange and exciting new environment. As he walked down the hall he felt as if everyone was staring at him. Just then he saw one of his pals from grade school.
Walt yelled across the hall, “Well, if it isn’t red Archie!”
Archie cringed when he heard the word red, and his face blushed to fit the description. Suddenly he wished that he had a hat to cover his bright thatch of red hair.
Just then the “ZZIINNGG!” of the bell sounded to go to class. He hurried down the hall to his locker and spun the dial to his combination, but nothing happened. Again he tried … 37 to the left … 15 to the right … and 22 to the left. His locker still wouldn’t open!
Frantically he pulled on his locker door but to no avail. “ZZIINNGG!” went the second bell, and Archie realized that he was tardy for the first period. He gave up on his locker and ran down the hall to his first class. As he-entered the room everyone looked at him and he hurriedly went to one of the empty desks and sat down. The teacher called the roll, “Steve Cranbrook … Archie Crenshaw … Richard Daines …” until he had called out all twenty-six students in the homeroom.
Mr. Williams, the teacher, closed the rollbook and said, “I remember the first day I went to junior high. I was so scared that I had to walk around the block twice before I dared go in. Then I couldn’t remember where my locker was and was late to every class for the first week. The worst thing was that everyone teased me.”
As Mr. Williams talked, Archie felt a grin blossom on his face. The teacher went on to explain how the first day is always the worst, and after that you get to know your way around and have a good time.
From that moment on, Archie felt a lot better about being in junior high. He didn’t even mind if kids called him Red. In fact, his bushy red locks became his trademark. Archie became confident and happy (and finally figured out how to open his locker). And it all started with Mr. Williams in social studies class.
Archie’s parents were both proud and happy that their son was doing so well in school. Nearly every day Archie had something good to say about Mr. Williams and what he had learned in social studies.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Crenshaw were interested in meeting Mr. Williams, the man they had heard so much about from Archie. Finally the day came for parent-teacher conferences for Jefferson Junior High. Archie couldn’t wait for his folks to go and talk to Mr. Williams. He even drew them a map of how to get to his room so they wouldn’t get lost!
Archie’s mom and dad walked into room 29 with the sign that said Mr. Williams and suddenly understood everything they had heard about him. As they went in Mr. Williams gave them a glowing grin that was accented by the brightest, curliest, flaming red hair imaginable.