‘You sho’ am pretty in my heart’

It was more than 50 years ago when I volunteered one summer at a migrant camp in Utica, N.Y.
The workers came in trucks from Florida where they picked oranges, then journeyed up the east coast to dig potatoes, into New York state to pick beans, and finally, on to Michigan for the pea harvest.
At each place, they were required to live in squalid huts provided by the grower and had to buy their groceries at the camp store at greatly elevated prices.
The payment for their back-breaking work went to the camp manager for groceries and for the long truck ride, and they moved on to Michigan with no cash in their pockets.
We visited the camps in the daytimes to provide activities for the children under eight, who were left alone. Everyone older was needed in the fields. In the evening, we worked with the older children, young people and adults, teaching arts and crafts, singing, sharing conversation, playing ball, and leading weekly church services.
The voluntary service unit members lived in The Squires House, a fraternity house on the wonderful campus of Hamilton College. We cooked, played, and planned together, and forged a special bond between us—Lois, Glen, Mary Kay, Elizabeth, Dan, Ruth, and Ernie.
After a half-century, last week I connected with Ernie. Very talented, Ernie was a fine speaker, a naturalist, a singer, and especially, an artist. He went on to become a professional artist, and lives in the woods of Oregon in a remodelled schoolhouse with his wife, Mary Lou, who also is an artist.
We reminisced. I remembered Ruby Lee who gave me her prize possession—a very cheap bracelet—and wanted me to wear it “always.” And Illa Mae, a young mother who loved to sing and always wanted to hold a book.
Unfortunately, like most migrant children, she had never learned to read and held the book upside down.
But the most poignant memory of all was of a young girl who said to Ernie in her southern dialect, “You sho’ am pretty in my heart.” His wife, Mary Lou, was so taken by that saying she stitched a sampler that has a prominent place in their bedroom.
“You sho’ am pretty in my heart” is a saying worth pondering. Somehow, it made me think of Dr. Lillian Glass, author of “Attracting Terrific People.”
Surely a person that “is pretty in your heart” could be classified as a terrific person. Glass has a “Terrific People Quiz”—Do you feel excited and energized after talking to this person? Are you in a great mood when you are around the person?
Does the person make you feel attractive? Do you always feel like laughing and smiling whenever you think of the person? Does the person usually say kind things about you and about others?
Do you feel more alert and alive after being around the person? And so on. Glass has 40 questions to identify terrific persons by.
Just as there are “terrific people,” you also can identify “toxic people.” Are you in a bad mood after being around the person? Do you feel unattractive around her? Is the person condescending? Do you feel constantly judged?
It’s up to you, says Glass, to distinguish between toxic people and terrific people. And more important, to be a terrific person yourself.
You will know you are a terrific person when your friends say, “You sho’ am pretty in my heart.”

Posted in Uncategorized