Mother and Daddy were bipolar, as a couple, not individually. Daddy was generous with tales of his life on the wild side intended to edify and occasionally entertain. In his youth, he’d selfishly used up the family quota of sin, carousing, drinking, gambling, fighting, and honky-tonking to his heart’s content. Reforming after marrying Mother, he put all that behind him so he could rest on his laurels, be a good example, and watch us like a hawk. Knowing the bad apples probably wouldn’t fall too far from the tree, he was suspicious of the crop he was reaping. Mother, on the other hand, apparently had always had an over-developed sense of guilt and expected we’d just naturally behave well. When we did mess up, she was “hurt, not mad.” With five kids, it’s a wonder she survived the casualties.
My brother Billy had managed to snag some girly books and hide them under his mattress till Mother found and furiously confiscated them. She lectured him in her squeaky Minnie Mouse voice before plunging them in the trash destined for the burning barrel. Connie and Marilyn, our younger sisters enjoyed the whole production off to the side, always glad to see Billy in trouble. Pained at the loss of his valuable property, Bill tolerated her complaints while he considered a better place for his next treasure trove. Mother went on about her housecleaning while she foolishly sent Connie and Marilyn to burn the trash.
What a bonanza! While the rest of us had had to rely on conjecture and misinformation from our ignorant friends, these two had been blessed with a virtual illustrated encyclopedia of forbidden knowledge and filthy jokes. Life just isn’t fair. Mama always was partial to them.