Photo by Warren Brant:
During the summer 1962 I was turning six years old, and I wanted to invite my kindergarten girlfriend, Renee McCoy, to my birthday party. I insisted on dressing up as a knight in shining armor to deliver a special invitation to her that included a rose from our garden. I remember my mother fitting me with cardboard packing tubes for arms. I complained that my arms needed to bend. I explained to my mom, “I’m supposed to be, ‘A Knight in Shining Armor,’ not the Tin Woodman after a rainstorm!” She painstakingly crafted moving elbows out of tin foil taped onto cardboard sheets carefully cut into the correct shapes that she stapled together for an authentic look.
The day my knight costume was ready I couldn’t wait to deliver my birthday invitation to Renee. She lived two blocks down on Magnolia Avenue one house in from the far end. My father had followed me like the Paparazzi with his German made Leica camera. We arrived at her family’s ranch style house with red wood siding, and a shiny chain link fence around the entire property. The gate’s hinges squeaked as I entered and walked up to ring the doorbell. All I remember after that is Renee’s face flushing crimson when I bent down on one knee and presenting her invitation in a sealed white envelope along with a red rose freshly cut from the rose bush growing outside my parents bedroom window.
On the day of my party, Renee arrived in a white dress with spotless white gloves. Her outfit must have been from a recent wedding where Renee was asked to be the Flower Girl. I thought she looked like a princess that had leaped right off the page of a fairytale. My mother chuckled when Renee refused to take off her gloves the entire time. Those gloves bravely survived her lunch of a hot dog with mustard, with a side of baked beans, followed by cake and ice cream. She chose chocolate.
I remember Renee waiting in line with the boys to tryout my brand new toy rifle. When it was her turn to shoot I can still remember how my heart mysteriously fluttered when she kneeled in her frilly dress and squeezed the trigger of my gun with her tiny white-gloved finger. Renee McCoy was the prettiest girl in kindergarten.