At three score and ten

No wonder I feel so old!

| Once upon a time, three score and ten years ago to be precise, my mother roared and gave forth ... me.

I don't recall much of my birth—actually I can recall nary a thing—I can only imagine that it must have been an accident. At the time of my birth, I had five siblings: Florence, always known as "Sis", age 19; Ethel, 17; Harold, 14; Donald, 12, and Edna Mae, who hated when I called her by both names, 7. Of that lot, only Ethel and I are still alive. The last time I saw her Ethel confided that she had been pressed into service as my nursemaid and had resented the nasty looks and comments of those who assumed—seeing my mother, Ethel, and me in public—that Ethel was my  mother. I guess that set tongues a-clucking with speculation about my legitimacy. Oh well, not the last time I've been called a bastard.

baby picture
Cute little bastard, wasn't I?

I don't remember much about my childhood. (OK, to be honest, at my age there isn't much I do remember!) But I'm quite sure I had one. Everybody does.

I do remember that as the youngest of six children, I had a lot of guidance from my older siblings. That's a polite way of saying that they bossed me around a lot. At least that's the way I remember it.

first grade picture
First grade school picture

By the time I was born my parents had moved to a farm near Miesville, Minnesota, a wide spot in the highway with two bars, a feed/grain store, and a Catholic church. For all I know that pretty much describes it today. The old farm house is long gone. It was heated by two wood- and coal-burning stoves (later replaced by oil-burners), one in the dining room and one in the living room. The one in the living room was right below a small opening in the ceiling with a register; that, and the stairway when the door was left open, was the only way heat reached the second floor where all the children slept. That's probably where my preference for sleeping in cool rooms with a pile of blankets comes from.

Money was in short supply in those days (when is it not?) so entertainments were mostly home-grown. During summers, my parents would go fishing almost every Sunday with another family (the brother of my mother's sister's husband), and it was my job to dig worms for these expeditions. There was always a picnic and the fish caught became dinner the next day.

coat hanger

Another source of amusement for me was being as obnoxious as possible to my sisters' boyfriends when they came calling. Ethel's beau went by the name Willie, and he always smoked cigars. Once when he was there I came down the stairs sniffing dramatically and proclaimed loudly, "Willie's here, I can smell him!" My father, who was eager to see his daughters married off, took exception to my comment and grabbed a wooden coat hanger to teach me "what for." I made the mistake of running into my parent's bedroom which had only one door. Ouch!

My father was quite proud of having sired six children, so when the oldest got married he announced his expectation that since he had had six children, he expected each of the six to have six so he would have 36 grandchildren. My brothers and sisters all took this to heart and went off to beget and beget an beget some more. My quota was easily fulfilled by their over-achievement, absolving me of any responsibility. Like it was going to happen anyway!

Fast forward. I'm now three score and ten, or one could say 3½ score, and my remaining sister will be four score and seven next month. The grandchildren now have children and grandchildren of their own, of whom I have lost track totally. I only know there are ever so many of them.

It would be nice to be able to dispense pithy and penetrating pearls of wisdom acquired by the experience of an abundance of years. I can only say "I have no idea" and, as my mamma would have said, "Who the hell cares?"

My Quicken says that I will run out of money when I'm 93. So here's to the next two score and three!

Last updated on Apr 13, 2018



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