Though I’m the last of four kids, I often felt like an only child. The other three are seven, ten and eleven years older than me, so I was still at home when they married, had children, joined the military, etc.
My dad’s brother had eight kids. Oftentimes we would all travel together. My mom and dad, and sometimes at least my brother and I, plus my uncle, aunt and their eight kids. And sometimes we all lived together. There were six girls and two boys, and four of the girls were close to my age. The two older girls were teens when we were ranging from two to six years old.
I remember a particularly warm day, when we all lived in a two bedroom house and all the adults were gone. One of the older girls pulled out some records (I’m talking real records. 45’s and long plays) and started dancing. The living room was small, but the seven of us found places to dance. One on the coffee table. One on the end table. Several on the linoleum floor. The older girls taught us to do the twist and the bop, with a littleCharlestonthrown in. The music was loud and laughter filled the room. We younger ones were dressed in sunsuits and the older girls wore dresses and we were all barefoot. Don’t remember sunsuits? They were light cotton, one piece summer ‘suits’—very much like a bathing suit—with ties on the shoulders. I don’t remember them being dark or bright colored. Mine were pastels with flowers or dots, or whatever. They were as close to naked as a girl could get, with elastic around the legs and waist.
It’s not just the music and dancing and laughter I remember. Another thing that comes back to me is that the house was very clean. The floors shone with wax. The windows sparkled, and doilies lay on the backs of the couch and chairs. And when it was time for the adults to come home, the record player was turned off, the cushions fluffed and quiet reined. Imagine four adults, two or three teenaged boys, two teenaged girls, and a passel of younger kids in a two bedroom house. But that’s a whole other story.
We lived in that house for most of the summer. Twelve of us. But it wasn’t long before we were all packed up. Furniture sold. Heading for some other unsuspecting town where the men could make some money. I think that was the year that we had a big old Buick and a small fishing boat, and Uncle Earl had a station wagon and pulled a trailer. That’s a whole other story too.