June 14, 2021

THE RED-HAIRED QUEEN

I wish this photo were in color!  My cousin Edanna was a charmer—with the kind of bright red hair that is seldom seen today.  I often wonder why there seemed to be more red-haired and platinum blonde children when I was little—and not as many now. Is it climate change? Genetic modification? Perhaps we were just more fortunate in rural East Tennessee to be blessed with such diversity!

Edanna and I were classmates beginning in first grade at North City School. In high school we were joined by another Ensminger cousin, King. We all had a vague notion of how our parents were cousins but the details weren’t clear to us. I really admired their names—Edanna was named for her father Edward (Ed).  King was the older son of Neal Ensminger, and had a brother named David.  King and David—seem to fit together well, don’t they?

I’m not totally sure why Edanna was given this crown—maybe in the third or fourth grade.  I think it might have been for May Day.  Our school always had a pole on the playground with strands of pastel ribbons attached on May 1.  All the girls would wear special dresses and flowers in our hair while we held on to a ribbon and danced around the May pole to music.

Edanna looked great in her homemade white net gown, carrying a bouquet of net and roses and proudly wearing a gold paper crown atop her beautiful red curls. 

By the time we were in the sixth grade, I would go spend the night with Edanna and her mother Adelia would give me a home permanent. She had a small beauty shop in her home and would “work me in” every few months for an after hours appointment.  We all had to have curls—and if they didn’t come naturally, arrangements must be made.  

In high school, Edanna began dating Freddie Ross, who’d been my neighbor.  They eventually were married.  He became a physician and they lived in Canada for many years.  And to think it all began when she was Queen of the May at North City School!

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