After Vee and I got bikes the little kids got theirs about August, I think for Arr's bday. Once we were all riding we did a lot more together.

One of the rides we took most often was the road to grama's house. We visited both sets of grands on the bikes but the most fun was to Dad's folks. They lived further out of town which made it more of an adventure.

It actually was over the pond and past the fields, not over the river and through the woods, to get there. We used to pack a thermos of juice or kook-aid, pb & j sandwiches with a banana and some chips for a snack. Vee would carry them in her basket.

Riding single file on the right hand side of the road and using hand signals for our turns, we would swoop into the vallies and crawl up the hills to the flat lands. If a car approached on our side we would pull over and stop. We could see them in our mirrors. When a farm dog ran out to chase us all four horns would start blasting and we would scream at them to "git home, dawg!"

Dad taught us to ride safely. I wish more kids knew the road rules for bicycling. I would like to see more bikes with mirrors and horns on them. Not to mention generator lights on front and back as well as reflectors on the spokes.

In May the lilacs, flowering almond, honeysuckle and honey locusts were all in bloom. Their sun heated, heavy, sweet scents would fill our noses with their perfumes all the way along the flats.

About 3 miles from town, after a couple miles in the reflection from the pavement of the hot sun, we would stop on the side of the road under a big old oak near our aunt's place to catch our breath and eat our snacks. The shade would hit us like the air conditioner at the grocery store. Ahhh! We'd fling ourselves off the bikes and down into the tall, cool grasses to rest. From there it was about two more miles to grama's place.

There weren't any iPods and we didn't have pocket radios so we would sing while we rode. We knew all the songs off one "Sing along with Mitch" album and a lot of current music as well as lots of old country songs. We weren't bad and it was fun to see how many "bottles of beer" it would take to get from one turn to the next.

Once we got to grama's we would beg for her kool-aid pops. She would put the flavored drink in ice cube trays and stick popcicle sticks into them as they froze. The zesty frozen treats were very refreshing after a long ride.

Then it was another half mile to great grama's house where we could get icy cold water from her well and a cookie or two.

We'd visit with all of them, see how many new kittens were in the barn and check to see if the strawberries were coming on again yet. We might talk on the CB to our aunt for a while or ride back down the road to play with the girls that lived on the corner.

But finally, we'd be running out of daylight. We would give Mom a call to let her know we were starting out for home. When we arrived, dusty, tired and hungry, she would send us up to shower and change then feed us dinner. We'd be too tired to argue about bedtime. The parents must have loved the times we rode to grama's and back.



Unforgettable: Impossible to forget. See also: memorable, red-letter.

The sister, Vee, and I were out back playing on a lovely spring day. I was 9, she was 8 so it was 1964. It would have been the last of May or very first of April, a week before Vee's birthday.

Mom called us into the house in that, "Now you're in trouble!" tone of voice. I figured out when I was older that Dad was in trouble, not us, but at the time, we thought we were slated for death.

We reported in, front and center, promptly. "Yes, Mom, what do you want?" I asked while Vee stood behind me in the cowardly shelter of my body.

"You two girls go right down to your Dad's shop. He wants to talk to you right now!"

Oh, geeze! I looked around at Vee then back to Mom and braved it out. "Why," I asked.

"You'll find out when you get there! Now, get GOING!" she shrilled.

We lit out the back door like our asses were on fire! Once we turned the first corner, where Mom couldn't see us, we slowed down to a slow stroll.

"So what did you do this time" I asked Vee, "and why did you say I did it?"

"I didn't do anything!" she protested. "

"You must have done SOMETHING! IIII didn't do anything!"

"What about saying you were going riding and you went to the library to pay your fines last week?"

"Unless you told, they didn't catch me. Besides, that wasn't wrong!"

"Oh ya? You LIED!!"

"But I didn't do anything BAD! It was GOOD to pay my fines!"

"A whole dollar? That means you had four books FIVE DAYS over due. Mom would KILL you!"

"SHE doesn't KNOW unless YOU told!" I sputtered. "It's probably because you sneaked off to town to buy that necklace when you were supposed to be at Grama's house! I retorted!

"Nope, they were both gone when I did that, unless the little kids squeeled on me."

It went like this the whole five blocks to the shop. By then we had worked ourselves into a state of terror but we couldn't figure out what we had done to be in so much trouble that we had to see Dad while he was at work. Usually they waited till Dad came home to hold court and punish us. This was totally out of our experience and we were just about peeing out pants in fear.

Even around the corner and a block away we could smell the rich scents of oil, gas and grease mixed with exaust fumes that was the unique smell of auto repair shops. We went past the show room and around the corner to the work bay doors. The first one was closed, Dad's was the second one. When we peeked around the corner we saw Dad laying on a dolly under a car that was about 2 feet up on the lift. He was tightening something with the torque wrench.

We went into his bay and walked over by his legs. "Dad? Mom said you wanted to see us." I said bravely. My voice only quavered a little with my tears of fear choking me up.

"Uh huh." We heard from under the car. We stood there, shaking in our shoes, but waiting quietly. We knew better than to interrupt him when he was working.

He must have laid there laughing to himself for a whole 3 minutes. We looked at each other, looked at the big feet by our small ones, looked at the big, round wash sink with the bar you stepped on to make the water fountain out from the center post. We stared at the workbenches and at the other guys standing around working on other cars. We didn't dare move and we both wanted to sit down to protect our rears but didn't dare sit in the grease on the floor there.

Finally, Dad rolled out from under the car with his "sorry but stern" face on. He sat up and then stood up, looming over us.

"Did you make your beds this morning?" he grumumumble. Dad's voice was surprisingly soft and tenor. He was shy and talked fast and quietly. You had to pay attention and listen hard. grumumble is a good word for it.

I looked at Vee, she looked at me. I gave a little nod that told her I had made our bed even though SHE had run right down to breakfast. We faced him and nodded our yes.

"Who cleared the breakfast table?" he queried further.

"It was my turn. I did it," Vee answered while I nodded agreement.

"Are the dishes done and put away?" We looked at each other again. This was weird! Dad never asked us about chores. I spoke up, "It was the little kids turn for dishes. We put them away," I told him.

Right then he gave his biggest, "what a joke I'm pulling" smile and we smiled back in relief. "Then I guess you have both been pretty good today."

We nodded our heads, smiling still, in agreement.

"Well, come on then, I've got something to show you two, " he ordered. He started toward the front of the dealership. We followed right at his heels like two well trained pups. When we got past the car next to the one he was working on there were TWO BLUE GIRLS FULL SIZED BICYCLES!!!

We screeched and screamed and then tried to climb his body going, "OH DADDY! thank you thank you thank you" at the top of our lungs and right in his ears as he pick us up, one in each arm and gave us a squish.

While he had ahold of us he said, "Now look, it's Vee's birthday next week so she gets first pick and I don't want to hear any whining!!"

Well, of course, I thought I should have first pick because I was the oldest and I had waited longest but for a BRAND NEW BIKE I was NOT opening my mouth on that thought. "They're both BEAUTIFUL, Daddy! She can pick first, I don't care!" I lied convincingly.

He gave me an extra squish, "That's my big girl, " he approved and stood us both back on our feet.

Vee never looked a me but ran right to the one with the basket on front. That left me free to run to the plainer one. We were screeching again at each other, "We've got BIKES, we've got bikes!"

Dad was laughing at our joy and I noticed the other mechanics were clumped up and laughing, too. Dad's boss was standing in the door frame in front of us and smiling. I had NEVER seen him smile, he was always very poker faced when I saw him. I smiled up at him, too! We were smiling at everyone!

Now I looked at Vee and she looked back then we screeched again, kicked the stands up and started turning the bikes around toward the door. Dad was blocking our way. "I want you to go home up Pearl Street to Center. When you get to Bridge Street you get OFF and WALK across the street. And you BECAREFUL!! (not a typo in our family)

"We will," we both rang out on cue and we meant it. We didn't want a single scratch on our bikes!

"OK," he said, "go straight home and show your Mom first, then ASK her where you can ride! Got it?"

"OK!, Thank you, Daddy!" we shouted. We walked the bikes forward till the pedals were in the right places, hopped on the pedals and started out the door. Two good pushes and we got our butts in the seats. They were just the right size for us!

We stopped at the door, looked both ways and blasted out of there for home. What a ride! We were giddy with relief that we were not in trouble and riding on cloud nine because now we had our OWN bikes to ride and they were BRAND NEW never been ridden bikes all our own!

We checked, you could ride them with no hands! What great bikes! We got off at the main intersection and walked them over when traffic had cleared. The little girls saw us coming and started clamoring for handlebar rides before we were in the yard. Mom came out and admired the bikes inspite of her ire. She defined our limits and we rode all day. When it was time for dinner we put them up on the porch.

We spent dinner telling the family what all the kids thought about our new bikes and how fast we could go on them. We were impressed with how easy they were to pedal. It was great telling about beating all the kids except Day, who was older and bigger than we were. How the other kids came out and rode with us all afternoon. We said we gave the little kids rides, too.

After dinner was cleaned up we ran to get the bikes out. Jay, Mal and the other Val joined us in circling and criss-crossing our allowed blocks. We heard Mom hollering us in about dusk. No riding after dark, rule three already!

We watched a little TV till bed time. Vee and I could hardly shut up. We talked most of the night about riding to school on Monday. She offered to haul all our books in her basket and I told her thanks. We could hardly sleep. We wouldn't be able to ride again till after church tomorrow so we relived every moment we had ridden today.

I figured out later Mom was angry because Dad spent some of their tax refund with out discussing it with her first but she couldn't stay that way when she saw how happy we were.

What a day! What a joy! We had bikes! Unforgettable.



The white house is where I learned we were poor. I never knew the concept before we moved. For us it meant we ate a lot of goulash, chili, boiled dinner, bean soup and other budget stretchers. We didn't know that was bad. There was plenty of milk, corn, on and off the cob, peas, peaches, apples and more from the farms or we might have been worse off. As it was, we all grew like weeds and were generally healthy.

What brought it home to me that we were poor, as in not having enough money, was when I asked my folks when I could get a bike and they kept saying later or pretty soon. I guess I asked one time to many because one day Mom told me to stop asking about a bike. I wasn't getting one because they couldn't afford it.

Now, part of the problem is that they couldn't afford four bikes. Those that grew up with sibs know that it wouldn't be fair for me to get a bike and have none for the others. Unless you asked me. I would have said "I had to wait till I was 9 to get a bike, they can wait till they are nine, too!" What a whiner. I hated that I couldn't do something till I was 12,or whatever age and the sibs got to do it a year or more sooner.

All the neighbor kids had bikes. They would even share sometimes but it meant we couldn't ride together - not enough bikes. I was ready to have my own, darn it! I could RIDE!

A bike was the ultimate possession for a kid back then. You could go all over town and back in a flash! You were free! You could sleep in a little later because you could get to school faster! You could race the other kids! Man, I just had to have a bike!!!

So I started learning about money and how to get it. I would get my OWN bike. I mowed lawns for all the relatives, watched little kids, ran to the store for people and put all the dimes and nickles in my bank for the bike.

It was my first attempt to save my money until I could pay for something. It seemed like I had very little for all the work I had done. It was going to take years for me to save up for a bike. I got discouraged but kept working at it all year. I was 8 and a half.



I taught myself to ride a bicycle out at the farm on the Uncle's old steel frame 26" boy's bike. It wasn't the easiest thing I ever did.

The old wooden porch of their farm house ran parallel to the driveway. The driveway had a little rise and then a gentle slope toward the gravel road that lead to town. Across the road was the mail box, then a shallow ditch and behind that farmland that went on forever. There wasn't much traffic and a car raised so much dust in the summer that you could see them coming a long way off.

As I was only about 3 feet tall myself, I had to push the bike with my hands up over my head. The leverage and control left something to be desired. I'd wrestle it across the gravel drive over to the edge of the porch. I would turn it around and get it pointed toward the road but really close to the porch. This could take a lot of "backing and filling".

I had to balance the bike with one hand while I climbed up on the porch. I would get a hold of both hand grips, throw my leg over the bar, get my butt over the seat then gently push the bike up and forward from the edge of the porch with one foot. It had to be done just right; too hard and you would go all the way over; too gently and you fell back against the porch. Do it just right and the bike would stand up and roll forward.

If I got it right then I had to shift to whichever side the "up pedal" was on, stretch my leg as far as it would go and catch the pedal with my toes. My butt would slide off the seat as I shoved the pedal forward as hard as I could. When it was almost so low I was sitting on the bar I would give a little hop and catch the other pedal as it came up. Bobbing over to that side I would shove it down.

I'd be bouncing back and forth over the cross bar,pushing pedals a quarter turn because my legs were too short to reach. When the bike would reach the top of the little rise I could push a pedal one more time, hop my but up on the seat and let it coast to the end of the driveway. I would be savoring my success as the wind lifted my damp hair up off my neck and forehead. This lasted about 3 seconds.

The idea was that I would make a u turn and ride the bike back to the porch and dismount. Reality was I usually got about a foot short of the road, twisted the handle bars in an attempt to turn and got dumped in the gravel.

I would lay there a second, looking at the clouds and catching my breath. Eventually I would crawl out from under the bike, wrestle it up on it's tires, get a hold of the handle bar and the cross bar and push it back up the driveway to try again.

This kept me out of the way for a couple hours everytime we visited. Back at home, I would watch bigger kids riding their bikes and turning, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

When a kid decides it wants to learn something they can really show some spunk! I'll bet I landed on my butt in the dirt a hundred times that summer. Then POOF - one time I eased the handle bars to the right and THEN back to the left to make that turn, and, with my little bum right on the bar almost, I stood on the pedals, stretching the left leg all the way down and then the right one, bobbing like a cork, first down on the left then up, over and down on the right. I made it back up the hill! After I did it once it was like I had been doing it forever! I was riding

I made it clear back to the porch!! It was more like jumping rope than riding a bike, the way I had to pop over the cross bar to catch the pedals, but it was going and I was doing it!

I ran into the house all excited and asked if I could borrow the bike to ride to Great Grama's house, I can ride it all by myself now, PLEASE!! Grama must have said yes because I remember the way my heart pounded from excitment. I was going to REALLY ride the bike! I recall the hot, dusty smell of the gravel and the sound of it crunching under the tires. All I saw was the front wheel because if I tipped it over I would have to go all the way back to the porch to get on again.

I made it, slowing way down and pretty much falling off when I got there. It seemed like I was there in just a minute, I was going so fast (compared to walking!). I went in and told Great Grama all about it and she came out to watch me push the bike to her porch and set off for Grama's. She waved good bye to me but I couldn't let go to wave back, so I just smiled at her over my shoulder and kept riding.

I was smiling all the way thinking NOW Mom and Dad would get me my OWN two wheeler! I wanted a red one!


Boys, later

I really want to tell you about boys and such but I have to go back to the other blog right now. That's the real world and it's distracting me too much to post here.

Be back in a bit!


Neighbors - bah, humbug

Behind our house was a family with 3 boys and a girl. One boy was 17, the girl was 3 years older than me, the other two boys, Me and Mi, were about 5 and 3. The two little boys came over one day to play with us.

We had a new kitten, courtesy of the neighbors. It was a little tiger with a white bib. The day was rather warm so we all sat under the big pine tree by the side porch to stay cool. Cee had the kitten in her lap. Me asked if he could hold it. Cee, being nice to neighbor, said yes.

Me proceeded to pick the kitten up by the neck, very tightly! The kitten struggled to free itself by kicking and scratching at the hand that was choking it. Kitten landed a couple of good ones. Me screeched, threw the kitten down on the ground and then stomped on it! We could hear it's bones breaking.

It all happened so fast. There was nothing anyone could do. Cee and Arr started to cry, but Vee and I were angry. There were words exchanged and it ended with Me and Mi running for home and never playing with us ever again.

I went inside and told Mom what happened then asked her for a box. She said we could get another kitten and found me a shoe box. The sisters and I had a funeral for the poor little thing and buried it there under the tree.

The neighbor with the kittens let us have a second one, this one a yellow tiger we named "Baby Lion". He grew up to be dressed in silly outfits, toted around in wagons and strollers, rocked in cradles and generally loved by all of us. He was a very male cat but he let us do anything with him.

When I was older I used to babysit Me and Mi to make some money but we still never played with them at school or home forever.


The preacher's kid

There really was a new pastor at the church and he did have kids. Mom made me and Vee go ask the new boy to come play with us. It wasn't really a chore. We might have waited till he was outside or something to check him out. Having Mom step in just meant we had to walk the two blocks to his place and knock on the door.

Guy was about our age but taller than most of the boys. On the walk back to our house we made getting acquainted small talk and waved Jay and Day to join us. Standing around making introductions and howdy's was boring. We started out playing rag football but Day had to leave and left us with an odd number of players.

We decided to golf with an old iron out of the garage and a few found balls. Being in town we couldn't really golf, something would get broken. We set up a target by stacking some cans on a cardboard box.

We let the new kid go first. He missed,of course. We ranged in age from 5 to 9 years old. None of us was really good at aiming anything! I got a swing and hit the box low and on the left. Jay stepped up to take his turn. I went to the right to brag to Vee about my shot. Guy was behind Jay and to his left.

Jay really wanted to nail the cans. I saw the club come up in a powerful back swing and clip Guy in the head. POW! Jay looked over his shoulder in surprise and carefully pulled the club down. Guy had immediately raised his hands to his head. He never made a sound, just grabbed his head. Blood ran through and over his fingers, down to his elbow and on to his shirt. I couldn't believe he wasn't crying!

It was instant panic! The blood flowed down his face so fast he couldn't see and we thought he would bleed to death right there.

I hot footed it to the house, shouting for Mom the whole way. As I have mentioned before, my parents were fairly expert in judging the severity of the situation by the pitch and volume level of a child's screams. Ma was out the back door before I got to the porch.

She raced over to the cluster of concerned children, with me right behind her. She took one look at the blood gushing out of Guy and sent us running. "Val, get a clean wash cloth and run it under cold water in the kitchen, Vee, go upstairs and get on of your dad's t-shirts, Jay - go home, it's ok! Cee and Arr get out of the way," she drew a breath, "Come on Guy, we're just going to get you sitting down in the house." She took his left bicep in her hand and led him carefully toward the house. Three of us dashed off on our assignments. The little kids followed her like a chain of ducks.

Inside, I had two wet cloths, ready. Mom pulled out a chair, sat Guy down and took them from me. "You have to let me look at your head, Guy, put your hands down." She stood, waiting.

Guy's hands moved about 3 inches from his head and Mom slid the wet cloth in quickly. The bleeding was slowing some but the cloth got red quickly. The kids crowded in the doorway, trying to see how badly he was hurt but he kept his hands over Ma's and they couldn't see anything. Neither could I!

I had run a dish pan of cool water without being asked because I knew Mom would need it. Guy was really a mess! I put the pan on the table and Mom told Guy, "OK, let me put a fresh cloth on it, Guy," and swapped the clean one out, dropping the red one in the pan. "Can you put your hands down now, Guy? I need to see how badly you're hurt."

Guy whimpered a little but put his hands in his lap and Mom lifted the cloth to peer under it. She had the blood cleaned up well enough to tell he was going to need stitches. He had a 4 inch gash JUST above his eyebrow over his right eye. A VERY near miss! I handed her the rinsed out cloth and she switched them again.

Vee came bounding into the room with a white t-shirt of Dad's she had found finally and landed by Guy. "Here, you can put this on and we can wash out your shirt before it stains."

Guy leaned forward and Mom pulled the cloth away from his head long enough for him to GENTLY take off his shirt, hand it to me, and slide Dad's on. He leaned back with his head tipped against the chair. While Mom rinsed the cloths out I trotted over to the sink to start on the shirt.

The blood had quit running, pretty much, and Mom made a pad of cloth for Guy to hold on his cut. "Just keep that there while I go call your Mother," she told him as she placed it over the slash. He put his hand over the cloth and mumbled a pitiful, "OK," as she walked out to use the phone in the dining room.

I felt like I was responsible because I asked him over so I walked over by Guy and said quietly, "I'm really sorry you got hurt, Guy. I hope you will play with us again, anyway, sometime."

Guy looked at me out of his uncovered eye and moaned, "I will. It was an accident. It's OK." I offered him the fresh cloth and we switched them again.

Mom seemed to take a long time on the phone. I guess being recently tricked by us about the pastor's little girl and then having to call and say, " Hello? Mrs. Z? .......I'm afraid Guy had a little accident........Well, I think he will need stitches. !!!!!..You might want to come pick him up.....You can see our Doctor......Yes, he's nearby. ...All right....I'll see you in a minute....Good bye." wasn't the most fun thing she had done. She was probably socially embarrassed forever that the poor kid got nailed on his first day playing at our house.

Guy's Mom was really nice about everything. No one hollered at Jay at all. He felt really badly that he'd hurt Guy.

The next afternoon Guy came to visit just to show us his black eye and the 12 stitches under his patch. It was really gross! It was black, blue and green and had just a little slit where his bloody looking eye could peek out - we were all impressed.

Guy never really got to be a regular at our place but he was really out of the area being a whole two blocks away. We stayed speaking friends till his folks moved on again in a few years.

Things like that just seemed to happen around our place. You think the fact that there was usually 14 or more kids playing in the yard had anything to do with it?


White House Stories

I don't recall many "bad" days in the white house. There were some interesting ones.

One of the most fun pranks we pulled was on an October afternoon when we must have been bored. Mom had left me "in charge" while she was out for some reason. Aboy was 4 or 5 ish. He was not bothering anyone but we decided it might be fun to dress him up like a little girl to fool Mom. Halloween must have been close to inspire us to go for it.

There was a new preacher at the church and we would tell her they asked us to watch the little girl while they had a meeting with the decons. Woohoo! We were off!

We dug through Arr's clothes to find something small enough to fit him. We settled on a little white blouse with a simple collar and pink skirt with white knee high socks and black mary jane shoes. That was the easy part!

We dug into Mom's make up for the next part. This was, of course, strictly forbidden. We added a little powder to lighten up his skin, a little eyeliner to make freckles across the bridge of his nose and cheeks, some mascara to darken his lashes and a light smuge of lipstick to add some pink to his lips and cheeks. Oh! he was CUTE!

The hair was a problem but we found him a bonnet then took some of Mom's old nylons and braided them, cut off the toes and shredded the end then taped them inside the bonnet! TA-DA!

We told him his name was Mary and he was supposed to be shy and quiet. We didn't figure he could change his voice enough. He practiced looking at his feet with his hands behind his back and twisting one foot back and forth on it's toe for shy. We quizzed him till he would just shake his head for yes and no.

Oh boy, we were ready! We all went outside to play. Everyone was watching for the car so we could run back inside when Mom arrived. We always ran inside when Mom got home to see what she brought. There might be treats!

As almost always since she had started working, Mom was in a hurry. The car came flying down the street and whipped into the driveway. The five of us raced for the house and beat her to the door which I held open for her.

With her arms full of packages she strode to the kitchen and dropped her load on the counter. Then she got busy putting away groceries and such. The girls waited for me to time it. They watched me for a signal. When she was almost done I said, "Oh, Mom?" in my best "good girl" voice. " The new pastor's wife came by and..."

She interuppted me, "Oh, No! Did she come in?"

"No, she was in a hurry," I continued, "She had a meeting with the decons and asked us to watch her little girl." There, we were in it now!

Mom's head swiveled around and she fixed on the bonneted but bowed head of the extra female child. "Hello, what's your name?" she asked.

"Her name is Mary," Vee spoke for "her" quickly, " and she's kinda shy." I nodded at Vee, good job!

"Well, Mary, it's nice to meet you," Mom stated and she went back to putting things away. "You kids can go play now."

We rushed into the dining room, biting our cheeks or tongues to keep from laughing. Aboy was so proud of himself. " I twicked her!" he said wth a little skip. We all shushed him in a panic that Mom would hear.

"Now what do we do?" Cee asked. We all looked at each other, thinking.

"We be nice to the new girl and play a game with her," Vee suggested.

"She's not dressed for outside games," Cee agreed.

"Candy Land!" Arr chimed in with her favorite game. Aboy was just learning to count and he wanted to play Sorry. He was the guest!

We rushed to set up the board and climbed up on the chairs around the dining room table, box in hand. We really started a game but were whispering to each other to quite giggling and stop laughing the whole time we waited for Mom to come in.

When she finally did walk into the dining room we were all very obviously being "nice" to the guest and playing politely. "Where's Aboy??" She asked me.

"He got tired so he took a nap," I replied.

"Oh. When did Mrs. Z say she'd be back?"

I glanced at the clock, it was about 4:00 p.m.. "About 4:30," I answered her calmly. I scowled at Arr because she was tittering behind her hand. She made a somber face and hushed.

Mom got in "tidy up" mode and went off to fuss with the living room for the company she expected. We all clapped our hands over our mouths and stifled.

"It's your turn, MARY," I said loud enough for Mom to hear and we kept playing and giggling.
Mom must have needed a dust rag from upstairs a few minutes later because she went by us headed that way. The alarm in my head for trouble went off loudly.

"QUICK! Everyone line up by the stair door!" I exclaimed. They looked at me funny but they all knew I could guess ahead better than they could so they did it.

"Line up" meant get in order from tallest to shortest. I think every photo of us ever taken had us "lined up". It was also the way Mom inspected us for church or special events before we left. She would look for last minute smugging or crumbs and tighten any loose braids.

I knew Mom would check on Aboy while she was up there. It's just what she did all day, track kids by last reported positon. We waited all in a row in front of the stairs, hands clasped in front of us and giggles making our shoulders twitch.

"VALLLLLAURE MARIE!" I heard her shout as she ran down the stairs. That sobered us up! The death cry! Aboy looked worried so I shot him a grin and he smiled back at me. "Keep your head down!" I reminded him. He looked at his shoes.

The door was flung open and Mom screeched to a halt as she hit the dining room floor and saw us all waiting for her. "Where's ABoy!"

This was it. All the kids watched me. "I looked her square in the eye and said, "Right here, Mom."

Her jaw dropped a little and she stared ate me. "Right WHERE?"

My lips started to twitch, "Right HERE!" and I pointed to "Mary"

We all started cracking up. We had REALLY tricked her! She wasn't pretending to be nice, she was FOOLED!

While we laughed it up Mom got down on her knees in front of Aboy, took him by the shoulders and LOOKED at him. He raise his head and grinned at her. She yanked the bow on the bonnet and whipped it off his head then did a double take when the braids that had been hanging neatly down behind his ears came off with the hat.

Well, we all thought it was pretty funny and had tears running into our mouths we were laughing so hard. Then came the back lash.

"What were you thinking! NEVER Ever dress Aboy like a girl. Boys do NOT were dresses! We all stopped laughing at the same time.

Mom was using the hat to wipe the makeup off Aboy's face while he stared at her, in shock at her anger. " I expect you to know better than this, go to your rooms!" she raged.

We went flying up the stairs to our rooms and settled down to try and figure out why Mom didn't think it was funny that we tricked her. We had no clue. Maybe she thought Aboy was kidnapped and got scared. Moms were strange when you scared them, we all knew that. We sat and worried what Dad would do to us when he got home for about half an hour.

When Mom told Dad about it that night as he got home we heard him laughing and he came to call us down for supper still smiling but he never said a word about it to us. Aboy came to the table looking like himself except for a little mascara at the base of his lashes that would have to wear off.

That was how we learned that pranking the Mom was a bad idea. We didn't do it again for a long time.

We really HAD tricked Mom and she felt stupid for not knowing her own son and getting fooled by a bunch of little kids. Since Mom started working shortly after we moved into the white house she was sensitive about being a "good mother". I wasn't capable of taking that into account then, but I am now so I know why our joke backfired so badly. Then, it just seemed like she went off the deep end for no reason.

We all still think it was pretty funny!


Who we were

4 angel girlsThis is the us girls just after moving into the white house. We were going to be in the Christmas play at church. Mom, ever practical, made our costumes to double as pj's later.

I have read over some of the earlier posts and see that our childhood is sounding idyllic. I am sure that, compared to other's lives, it was. I seem to have forgotten to mention a few points, probably because I didn't realize then or now that they may be important to some people.

First, we were poor. I didn't know that for several more years. We had family with farms and orchards so we had food. Dad hunted, worked a day job, worked out of his garage and played in a band to make money.

Second, my Mom could sew. We didn't look poor, except by choice. It was hard to get us to dress up because we thought we had to be ready to play with the boys and you can't do that in a skirt. She made us lovely, matching outfits often. Usually they were for Easter and first day of school but she might see something she liked and just make them for us.

She was resourceful, too. The year poncho's were all the rage she bought one fine blanket in one school color and cut it into four ponchos that were trimmed in the other school color, hand fringed and sewed to fit each of us. We loved them and they were warm! She could stretch one pound of ground beef into a filling meal for seven or 10 people. No one left hungry.

All the grandparents chipped in to keep us in nice clothes. It meant gifts for holidays and birthdays were school supplies, socks and underware a lot. ICK!

We always had what we needed and so we didn't know we were upper lower class economically. As we got older the other kids let us know it, one way and another, but it only made us more secure in knowing we were just as good and smart as they were even if we were poor. We may not have had money but we had self confidence!

I still am only lower middle class but I don't reach for more money, I feel like I have everything I ever could want and treasure my contentment.