Below is an excerpt from "Goats and Ginger Ale Floats" by Diane Campbell Green, Illustrated by Linda E. Jones, Published by DCG Books, 2021.
“Becky, will you go to the soda shop with me?” Nine-year-old David asked.
Becky liked David. He was in Mrs. Beach’s second grade last year with her. David tried to explain arithmetic to Becky. She did better on her report card last time, and this made Mommy and Daddy happy.
“What do you do at the soda shop?” Becky asked.
“Well, I have some extra money. I can buy you a soda,” David said.
“That sounds like fun,” Becky said, liking David even more.
Becky was excited to tell her mommy and her sister-friend, Sharon, that David and she were going to the soda shop.
“Mommy, is this what you call a friendship-date?” Becky gushed. “How do you get ready for a friendship-date?” Becky asked her mother.
“Well,” Jackie Chalmers began, “you have to have your hair done and you have to wear your best Sunday dress and you have to wear white gloves.” Becky didn’t know about the white gloves, but Mommy knew about these things. The friendship-date was planned for Saturday afternoon. Jackie hoped to give Becky a Toni, this was the perfect opportunity.
“It’s only Wednesday. You’ll have time to get a Toni,” Jackie told her daughter. A Toni made a permanent wave in one’s hair. Usually, Becky got one before Labor Day to start the school year.
“I don’t like the way it makes my hair stand out on my head. Can’t I just get a pixie cut?” Becky begged.
“Big girls always get a Toni when they go on a friendship-date,” Jackie said.
“Okay, Mommy,” Becky caved in. “Will you buy the Toni this afternoon?”
Jackie walked down to the Drug Store by Afton Pond. She paid for a children’s Toni and brought it home for tomorrow after school.
“Mommy, how do you act on a friendship-date?” Becky was curious.
“Well,” Jackie started, “you remember your manners, you dress pretty and you say ‘thank you’ before you go home.”
The Toni was removed from the box. “Now I remember about getting a Toni. It smells so bad the boys and Snowball run outside.”
“That’s the ammonia Becky. Ammonia is the special ingredient that makes the permanent take.” We girls have to get used to having a Toni,” Jackie explained.
Becky tried to think of how pretty she would be after the Toni.
Becky’s seven-year-old twin brothers came downstairs from playing in their bedroom having smelled Becky’s permanent solution.
“Mommy, why are you putting that smelly stuff in Becky’s hair again?’ Jimmy held his nose.
“Becky, you’re going to stink forever,” Billy said.
“No, I won’t,” Becky defended herself and her mommy. “Mommy’s going to make me glamourous.”
Jackie snapped the curlers into Becky’s hair and put a string of cotton around her hairline so the liquid wouldn’t get in her eyes. “You have to leave it on your hair for a little while until the timer buzzes,” Mommy said. The timer buzzed. Jackie was always one to leave things cook for a few extra minutes.
“Now it’s time to rinse your hair and have a shampoo,” Jackie announced.
The smell came out, mostly. Becky’s hair was dried with a towel. Jackie looked at the outcome. Oh no, the permanent didn’t take, Jackie thought. Becky’s hair was burnt, still there, but as frizzy as could be.
Becky looked at herself in the mirror. Tearfully she said, “Mommy, it looks awful, David will laugh at me.”
Jackie was silent for a moment, “You just look different. Sometimes different is better.”
“I don’t like it. Do you think you can cut it off and make a pixie cut?” Becky’s hair was a mess.
“I guess so,” Jackie said. All went well until Jackie attempted to cut Becky’s bangs.
“My bangs keep getting shorter,” Becky said while Jackie kept on cutting.
The hair-do finished, Becky ran over to Sharon’s house next door. Sharon had a natural wave in her hair and she never had to get a Toni.
“Becky, what happened to you?” Asked Pat Edwards, Sharon’s Mommy. I bet Jackie gave Becky another permanent, she thought. Sharon simply laughed.
On the day of the friendship-date, Becky put on her very best Sunday dress.
“Where are your white gloves? You need to look like a lady,” said Jackie.
“I don’t want to wear white gloves. They make me feel like I’m wearing a Halloween costume!” Becky was mad with her mother now.
There was a knock on the front door. Jackie ran to answer it. There stood David with a few recently picked daisies in his hand.
“Is Becky ready?” David said. “These are for her.”
Brother Billy watched squatting behind the couch. Jimmy was also hiding behind the couch. He whispered “Becky looks like cotton candy with her pink dress, her fuzzy hair and her gloves.”
“David, let’s leave,” Becky said. The walk to the soda shop wasn’t very long. Becky and David sat on the stools before the soda counter. “I want a chocolate ginger ale float,” Becky told David. David got a free glass of water having spent all his money on Becky.
“Why are you so dressed-up? You look pretty. I’ve never seen you so pretty,” said David.
“Mommy helped,” Becky said not quite sure about what she should say.
“Would you like some of the ginger ale float?” Becky asked David.
“No, it’s for you Becky,” David answered.
Good, it’s all mine, she thought.
Unknown to Becky and David, the twins were secretly coming along to watch. They slipped into the soda shop giggling softly.
“I wonder if Becky and David are going to kiss?” Billy said remembering the kiss he gave Sharon last summer.
“Hey, look Billy, they have new comic books,” Jimmy said. Billy and Jimmy frequently visited the comic book stand in the soda shop looking the comics over well but never buying one.
Becky spotted her little brothers engrossed in the comic books.
“My brothers came to our friendship-date David,” said Becky, horrified. “Let’s go somewhere else.”
“Do you want to go to the school playground?” David asked. “We will have the sliding board all to ourselves.”
“Yes, I do,” Becky replied with all the grace she could, being very mad with the twins.
It was a bit of a hike to the Yardley Elementary School playground. The two children arrived and climbed the ladder to the sliding board platform.
“Becky, since we’re on a friendship-date I think you should go in front and I’ll get behind you and hold onto you,” said David.
“That’s very grown-up,” Becky said grinning.
Becky’s Sunday dress was made of a slippery fabric, she flew down the sliding board breaking loose from David. Unfortunately, her landing wasn’t smooth. Becky plopped in the dust at the bottom of the slide breaking her fall with her clean white gloves. Brown flakey dirt went up her nose and stuck to her cheeks. She sneezed. Her white gloves were a dirty shade of brown and her dress was torn, the hem sagging. David wanted to laugh but better sense told him not to. Becky took off the dirty gloves and threw them behind a bush, “I don’t like wearing gloves anyway,” she said.
Becky and David decided to leave the sliding board.
“This friendship-dating thing is too much, David,” Becky said. “I like it better when I wear my pedal pushers (calf-length pants), and my Keds sneakers.”
“Becky,” David said. “You are more beautiful like that.”
Becky laughed and sprinted across the playground to the swings. David pushed her and Becky enjoyed the wind in her face as she flew back and forth. Some of the dust blew off her dress. Accidently, Becky’s dress got caught in the chain holding up the swing-seat. This time, her dress ripped at the waist.
Excerpt from Goats and Ginger Ale Floats
By Diane Campbell Green, Illustrated by Linda E. Jones,
Published by DCG Books, 2021
Available at DCGBooks.com
Diane Campbell Green was trained as a research historian. She received a Bachelor's degree from Worcester State College in Massachusetts then attended graduate school at Marquette University and the University of Virginia. Later, she was a researcher for several major New York and Tampa retained executive search firms
For several months, early morning thoughts about her childhood in Yardley, Pennsylvania pressed Ms. Campbell Green to compose positive, happy, humorous memories into books. Santa and The Cotton Tree is a children’s story about a magical Christmas Eve journey taken in the 1960s, and an old Pennsylvania tradition; a Christmas cotton tree. The book was published by Covenant Books and released in 2020. Santa and the Cotton Tree won a Royal Dragonfly award in 2020.
Ms. Campbell Green found the characters in Santa and the Cotton Tree fun, interesting and remarkably real--worthy of continued stories. Book One of the series, The Sparkling Adventures of Becky and Friends was published by Covenant Books. It is a chapter book about the adventures and explorations of a group of children lead by eight-year-old Becky Chalmers in the early 1960s. The book won second place for Children's Chapter Books in the 2021 Royal Dragonfly contest sponsored by Story Monsters, a children's literature review publication.
In each of the ensuing books, characters multiply revolving around Becky Chalmers. The authors talented friend, Linda Elizabeth Jones, created illustrations. Mrs. Jones exquisite artwork (begun in Santa and the Cotton Tree) continues through the entire Becky Chalmers series.
The Second Book in the series, is Goats and Ginger Ale Floats. Becky and friends have various hilarious misadventures while “growing up.” Goats and Ginger Ale Floats was awarded a five-star rating from Reader's Favorites.
In Book Three, I’d Rather Be a Kid, signed Becky Chalmers, Becky laments the “adult” responsibility she now has. Recently released, this book continues well-remembered escapades from 1963.
Books Two and Three were printed by Digital Publishing for the author.
Ms. Campbell Green intends to write for as long as she can hold a pen and make a computer work properly.