Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Smelterville: My Sister

My sister R was about a year old when we moved to Smelterville. I can remember her walking on the sidewalk out front of our house with someone holding onto her hands. She must have had new shoes on, because she was "high steppin' it." Since I was nearly five years older than she, we didn't play together much. I was always going places with Dad and she mostly stayed home with Mom.

When she was old enough for a big bed, my parents bought a set of bunk beds for us. I was ecstatic! My friends, the Johnson girls in Kingston, had bunks. Their dad built them a three-decker set in their basement bedroom, and now I had a bunk bed, too. Since R was small, she had the bottom bunk, but I got the top one! The bunks were wooden with a ladder and a rail (to keep me from falling out). My rail just ran from the headboard to the footboard with space underneath -- I remember because L Johnson spent the night one time, and slid under the rail and fell to the floor. (She was okay).

I quickly learned how to climb up the footboards, so the ladder was no longer needed. (And R couldn't get hurt trying to climb up to my bed.) I loved playing on my top bunk, it was like having a space all to myself, where R couldn't mess with my toys and books. My friends and I could play up there without being disturbed and R couldn't get into my Barbie stuff.

A side note: The window in our room, instead of running up and down, was installed side to side, and higher than most windows. When the bunks were up against the window wall, the window was parallel to my bed and the sill was close to the top of my matress (may have been lower). I just remembered that I could lay in bed and see the lights from Nickerson Brother's blinking on and off, as I drifted off to sleep. It was very comforting.

But back to R. Sometime, when she was in diapers, R acquired a taste for soap. Now, as I mentioned before, I ate dirt when I was mad, but I was old enough to have a purpose. R ate soap, because she liked the taste. Now the soap was not likely to harm her, but it did lubricate her intestines, resulting in a tremendous mess for my mother to clean up. The soap at home was out of R's reach but the neighbor's wasn't. One day we were at the Jerome's house, and I needed to use the restroom. As I looked around the restroom I saw something that struck fear in my heart: There on the edge of the tub - was a bar of soap with a half-moon chunk missing. "Maaaaam, R's been eating soap again!" I produced the tell-tale bar, and we quickly exited for home in anticipation of what was to come.

R. was a cute little sister, but had a fiery temper. She started to bite sometime when she was around 2. She'd bite me when she wanted something and I wouldn't give it to her. I would reprimand her for biting and yell, "Maaaam, R bit me!"

Mom would reply, "Now, you be nice to her. She's your little sister." I got the impression that my mother didn't believe me, or she thought I had provoked her. (Since my mom was the youngest in her family, I figured she sided with my sister, who was the youngest in ours.)

Finally, the day came when my mom caught R biting me. She had latched onto my arm and for the first time Mom saw it. Mom was furious. She ran over to us, grabbed R's arm, and bit it herself until it turned purple. R screamed and Mom said, "Don't bite!" R never bit me again.

I'm not sure what time of year it was, but Mrs. R Gilman had come to visit my mom and the ladies were sitting at the table drinking coffee while they visited. R and I were eating candy - hard candy. They were rootbeer flavored disks, like LifeSavers -- but without the hole. R tried to swallow hers whole, and it got stuck. She was gasping for air, when R Gilman jumped up from her chair, ran over and picked R up by her ankles. She shook her up and down, until "plunk" the candy dislodged and rolled out onto the floor. My mom was in shock that her baby nearly died. (She had already lost one child). She ran over grabbed the candy off the floor, then ran back to the table for the rest of the candy pack, and threw them both in the wood stove. From then on we were only allowed to have LifeSavers with the holes in them. (After that I thought - Maybe that's why they are called LifeSavers.)


InlandEmpireGirl said...

I remember those root beer candies. We would buy the at the Wayside Market when we stayed at Gallahers. Five cents bought a black licorice pipe, a root beer keg, a piece of bubble gum, and Kits. Yes, the good old days. I love reading your blog and glad I finally found time to catch up. I am adding yours to my blog roll.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

It was a scary memory, but the more I write the more I remember. I used to love those licorice pipes and candy cigarettes (although I was never drawn to smoking).

Glad you are enjoying the blog, and thanks for adding me to your list - may I also add yours to mine? It's very colorful and I love to see and hear about all you are doing.