As Ritten ba Ma Self
May 10, 1953
Eberybody still call me Johnny. Dont matter I’m foaty-fore. Ill never be John. Ill always be just Johnny — Johnny Tut-da-Grass.
Hey, where ya git yur hare tut? I ast peeple goin’ in and outta da Atme or atross da street at Vince’s Barber Chop. Dey say, “At Vince’s”. Den I point to ma hed and say, “No, no. no! On yur hed! On yur hed!”. Dey laugh da first time dey here it. Now dey shake deyr heds and wok away like Im a pest.
I got my nickname years ago. Used to tut da grass for the Hartins, the Lawsons, an da Bonsalls. All de neybors. I luv to tut grass. Nebber cared bout gittin’ payed. Jess like tuttin grass. Sompin nice I coud do to show ‘em I luved ‘em. Mr. and Mrs. Bonsall were nicest. And deyr dawter, Nancy. She was difrent, like me. She used to bring me lemonade and cookies after I got dun tuttin deyr lawn. Dey sed Nancy was re-tarded. Nancys gone now. Sometimes I wish I was too. She jest disappeared. I miss Nancy. Dey say she died. I wish I cood too.
Dey all tink I’m stupid. Tause I tock funny and tell da same joke ebbery day. “Oh, dat’s just Johnny,” dey say to de new people in town, “Johnny Tut-da-Grass. He’s not all there.” But I am. I am all there. Just not the same way dey are. Dey tink tause dey tok better and tause dey gradeated from Marple Allamentery School, deyr better dan me. And dey are. Dey got jobs and houses and lawns. I dont. But dey arnt. Bein smart dont make ya better! Bein smart and havin’ a job an a big lawn to mow wont git ya into heaben!
I tock funny tause I got hit in da hed when I was six. Da brick almos kilt me. Before dat, I tocked normal. Now I tock funny. And Im slow. Im foaty-fore yeers old now but it doan madder. Howdy Doody’s my best frend. And Tlarabel. Deyr funny but dey nebber makes fun o other peeple. I dont like da peanut galry! All doze kids doin’ what Buflo Bob tell em to. Dat’s stupid! But I dont call em dat. I dont laff at em. I keeps my feelins to ma self. Preechr say evry Sunday, be nice. If u luv only doz who luv u, u got a ting or to comin! I do ma best to luv ebrybody da same.
Here come a stranger! Probly lonely here in Broomall. Nebber bin to da Atme or Vince’s bfore. “Hey, where ya git yur hare tut?” I ast wid a smile. He dont smile back. He look at ol Johnny like da old-timers do. He just shake his hed side to side. I ast agin, Hey, where ya git yur hare tut? Den he say “Vince’s” and I say “No,” pointin to ma hed, “On yur hed! On yur hed!” and laff lite I always do — lite I nebber toll it bfore. No madder how smart u r, ya still git yur hare tut…on yer hed!
— In memory of John with no last name,
— Gordon C. Stewart, graduate of Marple Elementary School, Chaska, Minnesota, January 24, 2019.