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by Julie Britt When my cousin, Carol, invited me to spend bicentennial week with her family at Myrtle Beach, I immediately went to J.C. Penney to search for the perfect bathing suit. Carol and I spent a lot of time picking out clothes, shoes and hairstyles that enhanced our feminine allure. Snug tops emphasized perky breasts and slender waists. Tight hot pants hugged our behinds and exposed lengths of tanned legs. We weren’t dressing for sex. That would have been wrong. We were only 17, not to mention unwed. We just wanted potential boyfriends to notice our timely fashion sense and get a hint of what might be theirs if they were patient enough to wait for love in God’s good time. The first day at the beach, we paraded down Ocean Boulevard in our new denim cutoffs and tube tops. We giggled as boys honked, whistled and called out compliments. “Ooh, baby, come to Papa!” “Sweeeeet!” “Marry me, darlin’!” When the compliments turned to raunchy innuendo, we ducked into the Gay Dolphin, a souvenir shop whose inventory included thousands of treasures from the sea — genuine sharks’ teeth, shells of every hue and the mysterious sand dollar with its reminders of our Savior’s sacrifice. We had

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by Julie M. Stephenson “Where are you from?” It was a normal question, but a question I dreaded nevertheless. I didn’t like to lie. “Sumter,” I answered. My new fourth grade classmate smiled, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. You can sit by me at lunch today.” Technically, I hadn’t lied. I was born in Sumter. I lived there until Daddy took Mamma and me home from the hospital. After that, I lived in Lamar, and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone that. Lamar, a tiny town in Darlington County, South Carolina, surrounded by cotton and tobacco fields, had been the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite places was school. Red-bricked Lamar Elementary for grades 1-6 was connected to a matching Lamar High School by a cement breezeway. I had been walking those gray-green halls for as long as I could remember. Mamma was the kindergarten teacher, so I went to kindergarten when I was three, four, and five. Daddy was the high school principal, so after school I could walk over and see him. His sturdy rectangle of a desk was where, to my later dismay, I carefully printed, “Form, Julie” on twenty-eight of thirty cartooned Valentines. On the way to

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