Monday, February 24, 2014

All the World's a Stage....for little Mack

February 24, 2010 is the date my mother, Maxine Haworth, died.  That was four years ago.  I have written a number of Maxine stories and still have many more.  Today I am just going to tell a little about her childhood.
Maxine and Uncle Frank 

One story she told us was when she wanted to have the lead part, a beautiful princess, in the third grade class play.  Maxine was a smart little girl with white blond hair and blue eyes.  She also seemed to never lack in confidence and knew that she was the perfect girl for this part.  One can only imagine the dismay she had when "little Gloria with Shirley Temple curls (only black) and  porcelain face with hazel eyes" was chosen to be the princess.  How could this be!!

While walking home for lunch, all Maxine could think about was the terrible mistake the teachers had made.  It wasn't that she did not have a part in the fact she had a big part...but not the lead...not the pretty star.  It just did not make sense.  She was steaming by the time she got home and immediately told her mother about it. 

Her mother was busy getting lunch ready for all four children.  Maxine was following her from the counter, to the table, to the sink and back to the counter...all the time whining about this travesty.
Frank, Maxine, Marge and Harold
Mother's hair is so blond it looks white.

"They should have picked me!  I don't want the part they gave me!  I want the lead!  Gloria only got it because of her Shirley Temple curls!  I already knew the lines for the lead!  I hope she gets sick and can't be in the play"
At that, her mother said, "Stop that right now, Maxine.  Those are mean thoughts.  I am sure the teachers had good reasons for their choices of play parts.  You have a good part and you need to do your best with it."
In frustration, her mother said..."Maxine, if you feel that way, tell your teacher that if you can't be the lead you don't want anything."...hoping that Maxine would realize how ridiculous she was being.  But Maxine took this as permission to plead her case to her teacher.

When she returned to school after lunch, Maxine stepped up to her teacher's desk...chest puffed out... hands on hips and said, "My mom said that if I can't have the lead then I don't have to take the part you gave me." 

"Well, I am sorry she feels that way, Maxine.  It looks like you won't be in the play and we will have to find someone else for your part."  Maxine's ego was shattered twice that day...but it was still strong.  She told us that she remembers standing there in total shock, wondering how her teacher could not be smart enough to know that Gloria was not the right person for the lead.  No...Maxine did not return to her desk with head down a bit shamed...or feeling silly...or feeling sad.  No...she strutted and disbelief that no one else knew she should have that part.

The next morning, Maxine and her mother walked to school together.  This was great!  Her mom would set things straight.  Her teacher greeted and invited them into the classroom.  How important Maxine felt.  The rest of the students were waiting outside of the school until the morning bell.

"Let me apologize for my daughter," her mother began. "I did not tell her that I did not want her to be in the play unless she could have the princess.  I was proud that she received the part you felt best for her.  It was my mistake.  I did not realize that she would misinterpret my words and instead, thought I agreed with her.  This is a good lesson for Maxine to realize that we need to make the best from our disappointments and not blame others." 

This was NOT the outcome that Maxine expected.  But if finally occurred to her that she just might be wrong....maybe Gloria with the Shirley Temple curls did deserve the part...maybe she should have been satisfied with her part....but now, she did not even have that.  At this time she asked if she could help with the costumes...that would be fun!  (Any of you who knew Maxine know that this would have been perfect.)  Here are two future drawings by Maxine.  Fashion continued to be a major interest of hers.

The end of this little story is a bit sad...even Maxine felt bad about it.  She did get to help with costumes and stage props.  She heart still ached when Gloria was practicing her parts...but this time Maxine was not angry and instead helped everyone with their lines.  Two days before the play she was called to the teacher's desk.  Gloria was sick...she had the measles...and would be unable to take part in the play.  Would Maxine be able to take the lead....would she be the princess?  This time, her journey to her desk was full of excited happiness...but with a tinge of guilt.
Maxine said she knew that Gloria would probably have done better, but she was still happy that she could save the day.  She also realized that designing costumes was a lot more fun that memorizing lines...and that was one way she made a positive out of a disappointment.


  1. Jackie,
    I love Maxine stories, and this one does not disappoint. I'm imagining your mom as a child. What fun! I may have to share this one with my students.

    What a wonderful way to remember your mom on this day.


  2. Great story! I love the vivid descriptions you give of her as a little girl -- following her mother all around the kitchen, strutting to her desk, feeling her heart ache as Gloria practiced her lines... thanks for sharing.

  3. Great story. I want to keep stories of my family. This is a great mentor text for me. Keep writing Maxine stories!

  4. Such vivid details brings Maxine to life. What a challenge for her mother to keep up with that little one. I hope March will bring out more tales of Maxine. You have such a gift for telling her stories.

  5. So glad to rad another installment of the Maxine stories! I love the way you interwove those photographs, but most of all I loved Maxine's wise mother.