I had forgotten this picture was safely tucked away on a shelf in an upstairs closet. The dresses are cute but those hair styles, well all I can say is Mom curled our hair and it’s a good thing we were young enough to not worry about how our hair looked. I don’t think those hair styles would fly today. As I look at this picture I’m reminded of someone else……I know, Princess Leia from Star Wars. Roll those bunches of curls on the sides of our heads and we had Princess Leia buns long before the idea of Star Wars was conceived. I think Sister #5 was crying tears of joy that she had no hair to curl; or one of the two little angels holding her pinched her. Both are possibilities. I believe I was close to 11 years old at the time this picture was taken and from left to right top row is Sister #2, me, seated left to right is Sister #4 and Sister #3 (the main characters of the following stories), the baby is Sister #5 and Sister #6 had yet to make her appearance.
Sisters #3 and #4 appear to be innocence personified but I can assure you that looks can be deceiving. This picture was definitely taken around the time of the “cookie caper”. I had previously posted the following stories a few years ago but since that posting, Sister #3, the victim in the cookie caper story passed away unexpectedly a little over a year ago. It’s been difficult for me to tell my sister stories so I thought I’d start by re-writing and re-posting these two stories again. They are funny, at least we always thought they were, and I still smile when I remember what happened. Every time the cookie caper story came up at one of our sister meetings Sister #3 would laugh along with the rest of us. I’m sure she’s smiling with me now as I remember that long ago day and share the stories again.
Remember that old saying about little girls being made of “sugar and spice and everything nice”? I can assure you that is not always true as was proven one fine summer day by Sister #4 when she did what she did to her older Sister, #3.
It was a beautiful Saturday during the summer I was 11. Dad had to work so we were spending the day with my maternal grandmother who was ill. Mom planned on doing the household chores that were difficult for our grandmother who was dealing with cancer. Sister #3 was 9 years old and Sister #4 was 8 years old at that time. We were all outside playing in the yard, enjoying the day and actually getting along while munching on the ginger snap cookies that our Grandmother had given us. The ginger snaps were to be the end of some of us getting along. Sister #3 wolfed her cookies down and started nagging Sister #4 for some of her cookies. After more nagging and whining, Sister #3 managed to snatch a cookie from Sister #4 and promptly shoved it in her mouth so Sister #4 couldn’t take it back.
I watched as Sister #4 walked away while looking around the yard as if she’d lost something. I saw her bend down and then pick something up that she had found. When Sister #3 came back at her for more cookies, Sister #4 said “Here, take this” and handed over her cookie. Sister #3 again quickly popped the whole cookie into her mouth. I can still see the stunned expression on her face. Her big blue eyes went wide with shock at the exact moment she realized it wasn’t just a ginger snap cookie. Evidently Sister #4 had spied a pile of dog poop while walking around the yard. When I saw her bend down and thought she had picked up something she was actually scooping dog poop between two of her ginger snap cookies. This was what she gave to Sister #3 when she came back and demanded more of her cookies.
Sister #3 immediately spit the cookies out, and kept spitting then holding her mouth wide open while trying not to swallow; all while jumping up and down and waiving her arms and screaming. I could see all the brown mush, a combination of ginger snaps and dog poop, coating her tongue and teeth. She continued to wail, one long banshee shriek after another, loud enough that our mother came running out of the house to see what was wrong. We were smart enough to stop laughing when we saw Mom coming. She quickly figured out what happened. She probably smelled the definite odor of eau de dog poop coming from Sister #3’s mouth. I stood there looking at my younger sister totally amazed that she actually did what she did. I don’t remember what she said when Mom asked why she did it but she took her punishment while Sister #3 continued to cry, spit, lick her arm; do anything she could to get rid of the taste of dog poop in her mouth. She continued to cry and complain about how mean Sister #4 was as Mom took her inside to clean her mouth. Of course we all started laughing again once they were inside the house.
Looking back on that time I still can’t help but laugh when I picture Sister #3 in my mind standing in the yard crying, spitting, and wiping at her mouth, but never quite getting all of the brown stains off her teeth. It was funny then and I still find it funny 50 plus years later. Now, however, those memories will sometimes have tears mixed with the laughter because she’s no longer here to laugh with me. I once asked Sister #4 what made her think to do something like that. Her answer was simple; Sister #3 was always taking things from her so when the idea came into her head she went with it. Sugar and spice and definitely not always nice. You wouldn’t think that looking at them in the picture above.
Growing up, we all learned to give as good as we got, so don’t feel bad for Sister #3 because she got even with Sister #4.
It was chicken butchering day at our house and I still shudder thinking about it. We knew what was coming when we saw Dad put a large pot of water on the kitchen stove to boil. Dad would bring the dead chickens into the kitchen to finish the process. the kitchen table would be covered and we’d sit at it to pluck the feathers off the birds after he dipped them in the boiling water. He’d hold the birds over a low flame on the stove to burn off any pin feathers. I can still smell the odor of wet, burnt feathers and it isn’t a pleasant memory. The rule was that if you didn’t help pluck and clean the birds you couldn’t eat the chicken at meal time. I think I was the one to opt out of eating chicken the most because I hated cleaning those chickens at the kitchen table.
This particular day Sister #4 opted out of eating chicken so she stayed in the bedroom sleeping. Sister #3 (eater of the poop cookie) wasn’t happy that she was cleaning birds and Sister #4 wasn’t. She took a severed chicken head, snuck into the bedroom and placed it so it was hanging by the beak off Sister #4’s bottom lip while making clucking sounds. That woke Sister #4 who started yelling and swatted the chicken head away. She covered her head with the blanket so no more chicken parts could be shoved in her face. Hearing the commotion, Mom went to check it out, trying to pull the blanket off Sister #4 to see what was wrong. Thinking it was Sister #3, Sister #4 started swinging her hands and connected with a face. She quickly discovered it was Mom she had hit and to make it worse she had also knocked off Mom’s glasses. Sister #3 had quickly moved away from the bed when Mom came into the room. I don’t know where the chicken parts went and I also don’t remember what, if any, their punishment was. I do remember the smug look on Sister #3’s face when she would look at Sister #4 and cluck like a chicken.
This picture was taken about five years ago and is, I believe, one of the last pictures taken of us sisters together. Left to right back row in this picture is Sister #6, me, and Sister #4. Front row left to right is Sister #2, Sister #5, and Sister #3. As you can see, Sister #4 was still clearly up for a bit of mischief at Sister #3’s expense even at our advanced ages.
Looking at that older picture of us I see so many things and remember so many things. Sometimes at our monthly sister meetings I will look at my sisters searching for the little girls we once were. The years and life’s experiences, I’m afraid, have taken its toll on us. I do miss those little girls, all sugar and spice and everything (sometimes) nice. I think, maybe, we older gals might still might have some spice left in us too.
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