Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hand-Me-Downs and Declarations of War

All five of us girls were born within six years. There was no lack for playmates and no lack of sibling rivalry. Felita always seemed older than she was, even her dolls were older. She was also the boss. I can’t remember Felita really fighting with any of us other than Mary. Mary came after her in the birth order--13 months and 1 day--and they shared a bedroom. I came after Mary--13 months and 16 days. When other fights broke out Felita would come to pick up the pieces if she wasn’t already there standing by and taking in the show. She didn’t usually intercede unless indicators of major harm were on the horizon.

My sister Mary was notorious for trying to pick a fight with me, hitting me, shoving me or just being plain ol’ mean. I didn't want to fight with her and usually walked away or ran away--to Felita for protection or metamorphosed into a tattletale as I ran to Mother. Sometimes I was just stunned--like when I got whacked over the top of the head with the Prell bottle [they were still glass then, heavy glass!] and when she snatched the telephone receiver out of my hand and whacked me over the top of the head. Those too, were the heavy receivers, those on the old rotary style desk phones. So, I just didn’t want to mess with her. It was like ‘go away and leave me alone.’

Hand-me-downs were common place in our household. The passing down ceremony was nothing more than a mere mention as Mother gave us a stack of folded laundry to put in our drawers. One day when Mother had gone to town, Felita and I fired up that old console stereo. We plugged the Tommy Roe and Tommy James tape into the 8-Track tape player, were dancing around the dining room and just a-singin’. [Cousin Dink really liked that tape and eventually talked Daddy into a trade. Daddy took about four other 8-Tracks that were bunk and Dink took our Tommy Roe and Tommy James to North Carolina.] Felita and I were singing Dizzy “I’m so dizzy my head is spinning, Like a whirlpool it never ends, And it’s You girl makin’ it spin, You’re making me dizzy” ...Mary came in--I know she was envious of the fun we were having--and began demanding that I take her shirt off. With some dizzy-amusement, I informed her it was not her shirt that Mother had given it to me. Uh-oh...she gave me a hefty shove and I was spread-eagle on the dining room floor--carpet over a cement slab. Legs out-stretched in front of me, I propped up, hands on the floor behind me and calmly but confidently looked her in the eyes, and said, “I’ve never fought you before but I’m gonna fight you now."

I didn't have any training. I fought like a dizzy-girl! But twelve years of taking it on the chin and drinking fresh hard-core cow's milk made for an ambitious attitude and some mighty strong fingernails. Felita stopped that fight when she grabbed the back of that shirt to keep me from landing on the concrete floor three steps down into Daddy's office/hobby room.

Mother had barely managed to open the door of that old blue station wagon before Mary was there, Mercurochrome amply slathered all over those scratches, crying and showing Mother where I had shredded her skin. Mother, rising from the driver's seat, looked at her and simply said "Well, I guess you'll leave her alone now." [Oh, happy day..] She didn't leave me alone, but from that point forward, I could walk away knowing full well I could win the battle if I decided to fight.

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I love this one! I grew up with two sisters in the house, one six years older (Sara) and the other 13months and two days older(Rachel). I was the baby and Sara treated me like her own. I was born 1 week after her 6th birthday, so she thought I was her present! Unfortunately for the middle sister, Rachel, she got the brunt of the aggravation from us both. I remember the clothes battle and the day I learned that hair-pulling and biting could get a fight over with quickly. I can't wait to read the next entry!
Love ya,