The year is 194 something. I could do the math, but it would give me a headache, so let’s just say I was about 3 or 4 years old. We had moved out to the country, and were living with Grandmother and Papa while our house was being built. I felt like such a big girl, spending my nights bunking with Eleanor and Marie. Eleanor was all grown up and so sophisticated, although I didn’t know that word yet. I just knew she always dressed like a model and he hair was perfect, and oh, she smelled so pretty with her perfume. She was just the best Aunt in the world. And she would fix my hair for me each morning, and tell me how pretty it looked. I’m sure she was just being nice, but she had such a sweet way with all of her nieces, making each one of us feel like we were the only one she had.
Marie was a teenager then, the baby of my mom’s family, and the one who played with us and kept us out of trouble. Or at least tried to keep us out of trouble. She had homework to do after school, as well as helping Grandmother with the housework. It was fun to watch her getting off the big yellow school bus in the afternoon, swinging her books as she waved goodbye to her friends. We were all her kids. We didn’t know it then, but Marie was destined to never have kids of her own, so we have all remained “her” kids. To this day Marie is the family historian, the one who remembers all of our names and the milestones in our lives. This is Marie today, with my baby sister, Elaine, looking through a family cook book compiled by my other sis, the Bristle Thistle.
My brother, Larry was born while we were staying with Grandmother and Papa. He’s done a bit of growing since that summer, and some of his hair has gone with the wind since he moved to the Atlanta area, but he’s still a sweetheart. So, there were 4 of us, 6 counting Mom and Dad. The house was large, but with Grandmother, Papa, 2 aunts, 3 or 4 uncles, and the 6 of us, it had to be stuffed to the gills. I just remember fun and happy though.
Our house was finally finished, and we moved in before school began in September. Evil brother, Tony, started 1st grade that year, but during the summer he decided to show me a trick he saw dad do. Our house was made of cinder blocks, a new invention in those days, and dad was showing the family how you could light a match, put it on the block, and it wouldn’t burn. Like a good girl, I was in bed asleep. Tony, however, sneaked downstairs and was watching the demonstration. So, after we moved in, he took me in to our uncle’s straw barn, which was behind our new house, and full of straw that Uncle was going to move during the year, before tearing the barn down. Tony wanted to show me how our house was fire-proof. For good measure, he filled the holes in the block with straw, and of course, it was setting on straw, then he lit a match he had pilfered from the kitchen. NOT a good idea. He did grab my hand and pull me out of the burning barn before it was completely involved in flames, but even with all of the neighbors working a bucket brigade there was no way to save the barn. That’s Tony on the left, looking like such a nice, genial gentleman, talking to our Uncle Vird. No one who knows him now would ever suspect what an evil person he was as a child, but I had to live with his evil acts. I know the REAL Tony.
I’ll be fair, and add that today Tony really is a sweet person, and I’m happy and grateful to have him for a big brother. Since our dad passed away in 1992, Tony has tried to take on the role of dad for the family, and solve all of our problems, whether we want him in that role or not. In other words, I love the big guy, and always have, so when he tries to tease me about something, I just remind him of of his days as a firebug, or his role of Hansel, the day he caused me to trip and lose my eye tooth, the barber, the one who made me fall onto a barbed wire fence leaving a scar I will have til long after death (or maybe not so long). But Tony is the one we used to call when we had problems. His health is bad now, so we mostly call to see if he’s okay, but since he’s also as deaf as a fence post, and I don’t have the loud voice of my siblings, I try not to call often. It’s hard to talk to my mom also, since she is also deaf. I think my hearing has been saved by my ability to shut it down when I’m around loud noises. It was the only way I was ever able to study back in the day, and the reason I can’t go to a movie theater now. But so far, I can still hear, so that’s good.