Dimples, Butch, Buttercup, Sissy… Sissy?


Whenever someone asks me what I’m writing, I feel a fleeting twinge of guilty laziness for saying I continue to blog – no new book of essays, no great American novel, no legacy book for my granddaughters. This is me self publishing using the same platform I’ve had for thirteen years. Never reaching 2,000 followers but loving my local and international friends who faithfully hang with me. Averaging 150 hits per post in 2022, sometimes more in other years, sometimes fewer. Somewhere along the way I found a voice, but the Boomer passion for individual achievement in the realm of literature that produced six books is mixed now with the seasoned settling of comforting routines that continue to produce my cyberspace conversations. If I ever changed my mind about publishing a new collection of my flash nonfiction, I promise the following post from the archives would be included.

Pretty, the great Treasure Hunter, occasionally brings home items that fascinate. One such find  was two versions of a board game I played as a child growing up in rural Grimes County, Texas in the mid twentieth century. Before the television set took over as our main form of entertainment, my family played all kinds of games from dominoes to gin rummy to board games Santa Claus left for me under the tree at Christmas. One of our family favorite board games was Go to the Head of the Class which was supposedly “educational” as well as fun. With school teacher parents, I played tons of “educational” games.

fifth series copyrighted in 1949 by Milton Bradley, publisher

The game was originally played with tokens that were cardboard images of children attached to wooden bases. Each game had 8 tokens, and their pictures were on the book that contained the questions.

(top row, l. to r.) Sissy, Dimples, Liz and Butch

(bottom row, l. to r.) Sonny, Buttercup, Susie and Red

Sissy

I can’t find the edition when publisher Milton Bradley eliminated the unsmiling player named Sissy, but I can assure you it would have been the last token picked in my family. Buttercup would have run a close second to the last.

Take a good look at Sissy, the little boy whose two obvious distinguishing features were that he wore glasses and parted his hair down the middle like the little girl tokens.

I remembered Jim Blanton’s essay in Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home where he talked about growing up in Gaffney, South Carolina and being called “sissy” as a child and teenager by bullies in school. Words, labels that cause pain.

I’m sure my parents were oblivious to the subtle cultural messages being sent to me in our educational games, but for me this game was one more nail in the coffin of internalized homophobia and intentional segregation in my childhood. Never any people of color as the tokens. No one wanted to be known as a “sissy,” and how could I explain to anyone why I always picked “Butch” first?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_20220827_150432507_hdr.jpg

not sure where this picture of me was taken or why – 

did I already feel different?

Be aware of bias and labels that hurt. Be kind to each other. Be safe this weekend.

Stay tuned.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Dimples, Butch, Buttercup, Sissy… Sissy?

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    I don’t recall ever playing that game, Sheila, but I do remember “sissy” being a label boys and girls equally earned on the “mean streets” of Southwest Philadelphia for not showing enough courage in the face of endless dares and hijinks. There were other hurtful labels though. We certainly weren’t spared race and identity prejudices.

    Becoming better, more enlightened people means letting those ugly labels die.

    Thanks for a thoughtful essay and a sweet photo of a child with a cowboy’s heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made my day, Ann.
      Yes, ugly labels must die if we are ever to become more enlightened.
      I remember my mother pulled our car over to a complete stop once when I said “darn.”
      “We don’t use words like that to express ourselves,” she warned. “Words have power.”
      Scared the shit out of me.
      Love you, my friend

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wayside Artist says:

        I seem to remember a connection of a hairbrush to my skull after using the word darn. It was a painful meeting of minds – mine with my mother’s!!
        Those were the days, my friend!
        Love you right back.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Salient point Sheila..pay attention folks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fight you for Butch 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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