When in doubt, blame the cat

Me, Christmas 1968

I’m not going to lie. Being the baby is not such a bad deal. Sure, there are some drawbacks that I’m reminded of when my youngest, Michelle, brings up that pertain to her and I say, “Oh yeah, I remember feeling that way.” But overall. It’s kind of awesome.

The good stuff : As the youngest of 5 kids my parents were so broken down after having stressful experiences with my hippie sister, Lynn, and my sorta lazy-but-really-just-not-motivated brother, Rick, that by the time this blond haired, blue eyed chubster came along…I was pretty much much spoiled to death. There was a 6 year age difference between my brother and I and I think my mother felt she was done having kids and then I came along, so she really enjoyed  me.

Rick and I watching TV in the family room on Diana Lane in 1973

I was a happy child and I have wonderful memories of my childhood. Truly.  I remember sharing a room with my sister, Robin. We had matching twin beds and bedspreads. She probably wasn’t so thrilled to be sharing a room with her baby sister, but we got along for the most  part. Robin was TV crazy and between her and my brother Rick, I watched a lot of it. Robin also loved music. She had a Wildcat record player that she would load up with 45s and albums and listen to them all the time. The Monkees were a big deal. I loved them. Neil Diamond was another. I didn’t love him. But she played a mixture of oldies from the 50’s and 60’s, so it was never dull. Ironic that I would go on to work at WDRC radio (known as the oldies station) years later. Robin loved that station.

I remember our bedroom walls plastered with Robin’s or mine latest crush or interest. Randy Mantooth from Emergency, Davy Jones from the Monkees, Robert Conrad from Wild Wild West, The Carpenters, Donny and Marie Osmond. When I got older and scored my own room it was Shaun Cassidy, Rick Springfield and Rex Smith.

My sister, Robin’s Monkee album. I still play it today!

Life on Diana Lane was carefree. I remember knowing all the neighbors and there were a lot of kids to play with. We had block  parties. We would  play for hours on the weekends or after school. Our mothers would call us for dinner by ringing a bell. Ours was mounted on our house. The mothers worked out a pattern so we knew which bell was calling us. Ours was three rings, three times.

My brother and I played a lot together during those years that he was still young enough and I was just old enough to join in. Mostly army. We had a great back yard with woods. Not the deep scary kind of woods. The kind where there was a walk path running through it with all kinds of cool places to build ground forts for the army games. I don’t remember playing Cowboys and Indians ever. My brother was always  into military stuff. So he and the other boys in the neighborhood would be soldiers and go around and shoot each other with sticks, while I was an army nurse. Basically, I sat in one of the forts and waited for an injured soldier to stumble in. I would treat him with pretend medicine and use leaves to stop his pretend bleeding.

I remember we had a sandbox. I remember I was about 5 and some girl whom I have no recollection who she was but I think she must  have gone to school with me, or maybe she was the daughter of one of my mother’s friends. There are pictures of she and I playing in the sandbox. I think my sister has them. Why do I remember that day? Because I was naughty that day and Robin yelled at me. I didn’t want to share the sandbox toys with her and I wasn’t very friendly to her for some reason. Robin was about 15 and she must have been babysitting me. My mother was working at this point and my sisters and brothers watched me a lot. I remember Robin chastised me for being rude and not sharing.

I remember my mother re-did our basement into kind of a playroom area. It was divided into rooms, with panelled walls. There were two built in toy boxes that doubled as seating with cushions on top. They were connected as one big unit against the far wall, but divided with two hinged covers. My toy box was on the left. Rick’s was on the right. Everyone else was too big for toy boxes.

The washer and dryer had their own little room, as did a workshop area with all my Dad’s tools, and an office for him. I don’t ever remember him actually working in that office. It had a desk, but it was mostly full of model airplanes and cars that he worked on. And Civil Air Patrol stuff. The workshop area was also storage for Christmas and other things.

My 8th birthday. That’s my friend Jayme Hannah next to me. 
I was confused at why there were 9 candles, but remembered we 
always added one candle “to grow on.” That’s our typical angel 
food cake we always had on birthdays. 

I remember we had a Halloween party for my friends down there. I must  have been 7 or 8. Again, I’m fairly sure Robin has photos. I remember it being all decorated and my friends coming.

It’s funny that I don’t remember celebrating many of my birthdays. I don’t think we did parties. I know we had family dinner and we would have angel food cake and ice cream while everyone sang happy birthday. I know I had sleepovers, so maybe  those were connected.

I do remember one birthday party that Jodi Narkewicz was invited to. She was rich. Well, compared to everyone else, she was. We liked being friends with her because her birthday parties were always fancy or elaborate for those days. Horseback riding, I remember clearly. So, you liked inviting Jodi to your parties  because she gave you nice presents like expensive sweaters or a fun game. She was nice. Not stuck-up that I can remember. But she was not like the rest of us. Her Dad was President of a bank. Her mother always looked fancy and dressed up….even going to the grocery store.

I remember one of my favorite things when I was very little was when my mother let me eat outside on the front step. For whatever reason, I absolutely loved that. I would sit sideways on the step that was second from the top and my mother would bring me out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cup of milk and I would place it on the top step like it was my personal counter. Loved that.

My first cat, Bootsy. She was a beautiful Persian & Angora mix.
We were best friends

Being the baby and living a worry free life in my early childhood was pretty darn good. But, there were times it wasn’t so great. I got blamed for things I didn’t do. A lot. Mostly by my brother Rick. Ok, so sometimes it was justified. I was a real busy body and I was always going through everyone’s private stuff. I would regularly root through my mother’s drawers in her bedroom. No reason. Bored? There came a time when the age difference between Rick and I widened and I think I was just looking for stuff to do. There were a lot of boys in the neighborhood and I didn’t want to play kickball or hotbox so much anymore. Jeanette Thornton, who lived across the street, was 2 years older than me and that was a big difference when you are 9 years old. My friend, Jayme Hannah, lived right up at the end of Diana Lane, but she started taking flute and swimming lessons at the Suffield Country Club, so she was around quite as much. So I was a really snoop and would get in trouble for touching stuff…sometimes unfairly. Sometimes not 🙂
Our cat Bootsy sure got blamed for a lot, I’ll tell you that much.

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