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When the dawn of integration day came, the Faubus fabric was even more tattered. His early-morning "March of the Mothers'' at Central High found only 15 curious bystandersand one shaggy dog. A check of 21 Little Rock stores disclosed no run whatever on knives or pistols. And the only "caravans" converging on Little Rock were those of National Guard reinforcements called in by Orval Faubus.
The scene outside Central High School was anything but violent. After a classic tradition, high-school boys stood around ogling high-school girlswho were, in turn, ogling the young National Guardsmen. A handful of women began singing Dixie, faded dismally out before finishing. At top count, about 400 people appeared and. as one Arkansan told newsmen, "Before you boys get the wrong idea, remember there's no.ooo Little Rock people that ain't here." The nine previously accepted Negro students did not show up; they had been asked by the stunned school board to stay at home until the
Faubus-fashioned crisis could be straightened out.
"Integration Must Begin." The first straightening was done by a tiny (5 ft. i in., 140 Ibs.) U.S. district judge named Ronald Davies, who had arrived in Little Rock from Fargo, N. Dak. only nine days before to take the bench of a judge who had retired. Curt, cool Judge Davies, 52, son of a small-town North Dakota' newspaper editor, got his law at Georgetown University, and practiced in Grand Forks (pop. 32,500) until President Eisenhower appointed him to the bench in 1955. Davies took just six minutes to order the school board to go ahead with its plans despite Governor Faubus. Said he: "Integration must begin forthwith!"
Fewer than 100 people (not counting reporters, pjipils and militiamen) were outside Central High when the test came. Most of the Negro children came in a group, accompanied by adults, and left quietly when told by a National Guardsman that "Governor Faubus has placed this school off limits to Negroes." But little Elizabeth Eckford, 15, stepped alone from a bus at the corner of 14th and Park Streets. In a neat cotton dress, bobby-sox and ballet slippers, she walked straight to the National Guard line on the sidewalk. The Guardsmen raised their rifles, keeping her out.
Elizabeth, clutching tight at her notebook, began a long, slow walk down the two blocks fronting the school. She turned once to try the line againand again the rifles came up. A militia major shielded her from the crowd, escorted her to a bus-stop bench, left her. "Go home, you burr head," rasped an adult voice. Elizabeth sat dazed as the crowd moved in. Then Mrs. Grace Lorch, wife of a Little Rock schoolteacher, sat down on the bench and slipped her arm around the child's shoulders. "This is just a little girl," she cried at the crowd. "Next week you'll all be ashamed of yourselves."
After 35 minutes a bus finally pulled up. Mrs. Lorch took Elizabeth's arm and shoved through the crowd. "I'm just waiting for one of you to touch me," said she. "I'm just aching to punch somebody in the nose." The crowd gave way before the white-haired woman and the little girland that was about as close as Little Rock came all week to Orval Faubus' manufactured "violence."