“I have an idea for your blog! Why don’t you write about us when we were growing up?” Dangerous, possibly incriminating words spoken by our middle sister…Nean, this one’s for you!
We began in Newark, New Jersey where our parents, met and married. They then meandered from East Orange to Morris Plains; and, eventually, settled in the little paper mill town of Whippany. Mom had found a little home on Grove Place that had one bathroom, three bedrooms, a small hill from the dining room to the kitchen, and a roof that looked like it had been wearing a saddle. At the time, our family consisted of my parents, Grandma Moon, and the three of us girls. I’m thinking I was just about 6, Jeannine was 3, and Lisa was 2. Two years later our family expanded to include our brother, Paul, and the house was expanded to include two more bedrooms, one more bathroom, and a finished basement. The hill in the dining room never left us.
Until the expansion, Jeannine, Lisa and I shared a pink bedroom with a red carpet and a creepy closet; I think it had access to the attic, but whatever it was, it scared me. Nean and Lisa had bunk beds, I got to sleep in a single bed; the one closest to the creepy closet making me the first victim of the monster within; it was a sacrifice I felt was my duty as the oldest. Many stories were told in the dark of that pink bedroom. The most memorable being the one about the “turtle heads”.
Back when Bill Cosby was funny and well-liked, he did a monologue about “turtle heads” and how he told his little brother that they had found him in the “sewie-hole”. So, I told Nean that Mom found her in the “sewie-hole” and she had “turtle heads” crawling all over her and that’s why she didn’t look like us. Lisa played along agreeing with everything I said. (Thinking back, this was kind of ridiculous for a couple of reasons ~ A. I’m sure there is no record of “turtle heads” attacking anyone in a “sewie-hole” or anywhere else, and; B. I’m the one that doesn’t look like the rest, none of my siblings are redheads.) Anyway, Nean had terrible nightmares from it for a very long time and I’m sure we got in trouble. But Nean did get her revenge. One night Lisa left her bike, with the cool banana seat and streamers, outside in the rain. When she rode it the next day, rusty rain water trailed behind her and Nean made fun of her telling her that her bike was ‘peeing’. I don’t know why this would upset Lisa, but it did and Nean got in trouble.
Sometime later, when we were in school, a dog named “Snoopy” came into the neighborhood. Nothing like Charlie Brown’s little black and white novelist, this dog was a little crazy and in those days, I was afraid of dogs. I blame this on the fact that I was always very short and the dogs I knew were usually eye level with me. But, whatever the reason, with Snoopy, my fears were not alone. I think every kid in the neighborhood was afraid of him. He usually managed to get loose when we were all coming home after school. Someone would sound the alarm and kids would scatter, which of course was the worst thing we could do.
On one particular occasion, hearing the alarm, “Snoopy’s loose!” I pretty much flew onto the roof of a car parked in front of our neighbor’s house. Snoopy jumped for me, but couldn’t reach me. My sister Jeannine had just gotten off the bus. It was winter and she had on her long scarf hat with the pom-pom on the end. She saw Snoopy but it was too late. I’d like to tell you that I jumped off the car and protected my little sister, but that would be a lie. Nean ran, Snoopy pounced, and the next thing I knew Nean was face down on the ground, Snoopy was on her back, and her hat and the pom-pom were Snoopy-fodder. I don’t remember Snoopy ever biting any of us, but he certainly loved the chase.
Our favorite memory, the one we all agree on, was our Sundays as a family. Sunday was the only day that Dad had off, so it was always special. In the Fall, we’d take drives to “Amish Country” in Pennsylvania, just for lunch and to enjoy the beautiful colors of the leaves. In the Summer we’d sometimes go to the Old Milk Bar in Wayne for ice cream sitting on the back hatch of our station wagon. But, Sunday nights were our favorites. Every Sunday night we’d have pizza. At first we bought it from Capri Pizzeria in Parsippany and then Guys Pizzeria opened in Whippany and we got it there. We’d all sit in the living room together eating our pizza and watching Marlin Perkins on “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” followed by “The Wonderful World of Disney”. Sometimes when both shows were done we’d go to Dairy Queen, always bringing back a Hot Butterscotch Sundae for Grandma Moon. Just like the “World of Disney”, it was Wonderful!
It was all a very big deal…right Nean?