Connie said, “Damn!”

My sister Connie is seventeen months older than Marilyn.  She was protective of Marilyn from the start, always giving over to “the baby,”. She wasn’t encouraged to do it, that’s just how she was.  Mother awas careful not make a difference or favor Marilyn.  In fact, she was felt bad at seeing Connie knocked out of the baby spot, so bent over backwards trying to be fair.

Marilyn had no problem asserting herself. Since Connie didn’t want Marilyn to get in trouble, she rarely hit Marilyn back or tattled on her.  I infer this worked well for Marilyn..  As country children often do, one day Connie didn’t want to take time to go in and wee wee.  She simply darted behind a tree to do the job.  Finding an abandoned hubcap that served as a dog-feeding dish, she squatted and filled it.  As she stood, Marilyn slipped up behind her and kicked it, splashing Connie liberally.  Instead of smacking Marilyn like a normal kid would have, Connie just exclaimed, “Damn!”  Marilyn was off like a shot, looking for Mother,  Connie ,right behind her as soon as she got her wet clothes pulled up.

””Mama, Mama!  Connie said “Damn!”  This was big trouble.  Mother wouldn’t tolerate trashytalk.

Mother whirled around, shocked, expecting Connie to deny the evil deed.  “Connie, did you say, “Damn?”

”Yes.” Connie whimpered.  Had she told Mother what Marilyn had done, they would both have been swatted.

”Get me the fly swat.”  Mother kept a plastic fly swat hanging by the back door ready for just such a occasion.  She gave Connie two or three quick swats and dismissed her, while Marilyn stood by self-righteously.  It was years before Connie told the whole story.

I wonder if the dogs thought “Damn” later that day when they smelled pee in their dish.

My family:  I am in the back row Left, holding Connie’s hands,  Billy Center, Phyllis  holding Marilyn Right.

Old Man Hillen

“Are you gonna pay for that gum?”

Phyllis and I turned to see Billy’s cheek bulging. His eyes got big and a stream of purple drool ran out of the corner of his mouth. The three of us stood horrified before Old Man Hillen, the proprietor of the Variety Store. It was obvious the sour old geezer took no prisoners where pilfering children were concerned.

“Spit it out.” Phyllis demanded, her face as hard as the old man’s. She hurriedly paid for our purchases as Billy and I beat her out the door. We knew there would be Hell to pay. Phyllis aligned herself with our parents and could be depended upon to report any infraction. This one was huge.

The situation was made more ominous since our business in the first place was the purchase of Mother’s birthday gift. The three of us had walked to the Variety Store after school. Mother was to pick us up. The wait seemed endless, knowing the catastrophe that was brewing.

“Billy Ray stole a piece of gum!” she exploded before she even got the car door shut. “Mr. Hillen made me pay for it!”

Mother was appalled. “Oh no. I hope you’re ashamed of yourself. I’m gonna have to tell your daddy about this.” A pall hung over us, dreading what was to come.

Justice was swift and sure. Daddy was enraged as he railed at Billy, before strapping him with his belt, then pausing before giving him a few more. Worse yet was the pronouncement that they’d be going back tomorrow for Billy to apologize and make it right. It was a terrible night at our house. No one escaped Daddy’s black mood.

Daddy was waiting for Billy when the bus ran, always dependable when punishment was due. He led the small boy into the Variety Store and announced to Mr. Hillen, “My son has something to say to you.”

Humiliated, Billy managed to stammer an apology.

Rather than accepting Billy’s apology, the hateful old man launched into a tirade against thieving kids and the way sorry parents were raising them. Daddy was infuriated and told him they’d made it right and he wasn’t listening to anymore of his mouth. They left. We never went back in that store.

It Wasn’t My Fault

imageMy son ran in from the yard, smugly ratting his sister out.  “Sister threw a rock and broke a light on the car!”

Baby Girl was right behind him, protesting her innocence.  “I wasn’t trying to hit the car.  I was throwing it at him.”image