L to R Johnny Bell(cousin) Mary Elizabeth Perkins (Lizzie) with Kathleen Annie Lee Holdaway, Roscoe Gordon Holdaway, John Arthur Holdaway about 1930 (note how well-dressed the children are and Roscoes’s mended overalls. I have one of these chairs in my writing room today. Kathleen helped Roscoe replace the bottom in 1932. That story will be in her memoirs, soon to be published.)
Mother is eighty-seven. She swears if she ever meets up with her cousin, Robert Gordon, she intends tell him what a hellion he was, even if he is the Pope and has a beard down to his knees. Well, I am pretty sure our Pope wasn’t previously known as Robert Gordon and doesn’t have a beard down to his knees, but if he was, and does, please tip him off. A whacked-out little eight-seven year old lady down in Louisiana might knock his block off if she gets a chance. From the many stories I’ve heard over the years, I know Robert Gordon had a little brother, Wayne, who was also horrible, but nowhere nearly as mean as Robert Gordon.
Robert Gordon’s initial transgression that put him on Mother’s dirt list was not his fault. He was her Grandma’s favorite. Her grandma paid no attention whatsoever to Mother, or most of her other grandchildren, openly doting on Robert Gordon with warm waves of affection washing over his brother Wayne. No matter that her cousins had lived next door to her grandma from the day of their birth. Mother, hereinafter known as Kathleen, was still steamed to see them with the run of the place, their toys littering Grandma’s yard, and watch them cuddled in Grandma’s lap, when she was never noticed.
Kathleen’s prized possession was a little wagon that her father had acquired second-hand and painstakingly repaired by the broken tongue. The very next tme Robert Gordon visited, he ferreted out her precious wagon, sneaked the hatchet from the kindling pile, and smashed the tongue to smithereens so effectively that the wagon was a total loss. The destructive act wasn’t discovered till after his departure. The family later remembered hearing banging when Robert Gordon had claimed time to go to the toilet. From that day forward, Kathleen hated him.
Kathleen had but a handful of toys, mostly homemade or hand-me-down, so of course she cherished every one. She had learned, to her great sorrow, that Robert Gordon and Wayne would steal, given the chance. Before they left after a visit, her older brother, who usually only lived to torment her, held the boys upside down by ther and shook them, while she retrieved her toys raining to the ground.
One one visit, Robert Gordon who was younger than she, but bigger, entertained himself by hiding and jumping on Kathleen’s back as she rounded corners, pushing her to the ground and enjoying the ride to the ground as she fell face-first into the dirt and muck of the yard. John helped her plot, so she was ready on his next visit. As she pranced alluringly around the corner, he jumped. She threw herself backwards, the back head bashing satsfyigly into his face and nose. Blood and snot poured from his nose and split lip as he ran bawling for his mama. It was difficult to convince anybody she had started it when he’d jumped on her back, though he tried.
The most memorable, and adult-infuriating trick Robert Gordon and Wayne ever pulled of was The Great Goat-Milk Robbery. Though they were as poor as any farmers during The Great Depression, her parents were excellent providers. They had but one cow, but they kept a goat or two as a secondary source of milk. Cows don’t produce milk just before and immediately after calving. Milk production drops drastically during periods of low feed availability such drought. At any rate all live stock is preciouos and to be treated well. The Evil Robert Gordon and Wayne were beyond the Pale. They slipped away from the visiting adults and robbed poor Nanny Goat of her milk in a way that no Christian ever should. The repulsed neighbors were watching horrified while one boy held the goat and the other nursed, just like he was a kid goat. Kathleen’s daddy and mama and the horrid boy’s parents got there just as Nanny was being rescued and flogged by an outraged neighbor. Robert Gordon and Wayne’s parents left in disgrace and Kathleen’s family had another long, enjoyable talk about how hideos they Devil-ridden were. Poor Nanny didn’t give milk for three days.
This is the same chair from vintage picture above, one of my most treasured belongings.