My brother and I fought when we were young until the one with a bloody nose and having the worse pain ran away in tears. There was only one bike between us and we always wanted to ride at the same time. There was always a struggle to grab the bike. When we played Monopoly or Chinese Checker’s my brother and I fought. He was a poor loser and would knock the board over when I was winning.
Les was two years older and came up with a lot of good ideas on how to make money. He took Mother’s books and started a lending library in the neighborhood. The neighborhood ladies were delighted to be able to read the latest books and not have to go to the library. If the neighbor was late returning the book he charged two cents a day. Pennies were slow coming. He wrote short plays and we portrayed the characters under our back porch. We hung curtains from the porch above and could open and close them between scenes. The children flocked to our plays and we charged two-cents. I can remember a few kids didn’t have the money. Les told them to go home and get a pop bottle which was worth two-cents. He held the performance until they returned.
One small child came crying because he couldn’t find a pop bottle. Les said, “I’ll wait until you return with a shiny button from your mother’s sewing kit.” During money making projects we were usually in agreement and fought less. When I was about ten years old Mother got very ill with hay fever and asthma in the fall. She was too weak to come downstairs for weeks. Mother explained to my brother and me how to cook meals in the evening. We had no trouble heating up soup, making sandwiches, but not sure how to bake roasts or meat loafs. We followed her instructions and delivered meals to her bedroom of which she ate little. Mainly the cooking instructions were to see that we got fed. Dad worked the evening shift and prepared breakfast and lunch while we were at school. My brother and I took over all the household chores as well. It was like a miracle when the first frost of winter came.
Mother’s breathing returned to normal and in two days she was up and about. Les and I were so happy to have her cooking our meals again and helping with the housework. Mother and Dad called us into the living room that following Saturday. We thought we had done something wrong—they looked so serious. Mother said, “Your Dad and I have to commend you both for the great job you did while I was sick. Your father and I didn’t hear you fighting with one another the entire time.” Les and I glared at one another and started laughing. Dad nodded his head in agreement, “I believe you kids are starting to grow up.” Two years later Mother took us by train across the U.S. We were gone almost the entire summer. We visited our relatives in New Mexico, California and as a real treat she took us to Mexico City. Mother wanted us to learn more about the rest of the United States and experience visiting a foreign country. It was then, I realized we no longer fought and began to understand one another. From then on my brother and I remained close and respected one another. Read more about this relationship in A Marked Woman.