Here are some more stories from the memory of Biss that I recorded before she passed away. She and Dick were only one and ac half years apart in age, and they played together quite a bit, as these stories show. Biss and Dick were quite a pair !
BISS – I remember Dad always brought his work home with him and had to sit at the desk in the upper hallway. Beyond the staircase there was a space and he had a desk there, and he always worked there. Dick and I would be in bed, we’d be talking and he yelled into us to keep quiet. So we keep quiet…. For maybe 30 seconds or a minute, and then start talking again. He’d say, “I told you children to go to sleep, now keep quiet.” So we’d keep quiet for 30 seconds, a minute maybe, and we’d start talking again. So he’d say, “The next time you talk I’m coming in and spanking you.” So we waited maybe a minute this time, and start talking again. Well, boom, boom, boom, boom. He came in and I was the closest to the door, so he spanked me and spanked me and spanked me, and of course, I was too proud. I wasn’t going to cry. He could spank me until doomsday and I wasn’t going to cry. I guess his hand got sore after a while, I don’t know, but anyway, he went to Dick. The first time he hit Dick, Dick started wailing, so Dad only gave him a couple of whacks, or something. When Dad walked out of the room, I said, “You big baby. What did you cry for?” He said, “But Biss, he stopped spanking me.” I said, “I still wouldn’t cry.”
Dick and I were cleaning up the playroom which was the living room in the little apartment. At that time there was no
kitchen in that part of the house, and that was our playroom. We used to put chairs in a line and that would be our train. We had a lot of fun in there, too. Anyway, Dick and I decided that it would please Mother of we cleaned up the room. We had a wooden toy box where we put all our toys. There was so much paper and stuff around that we decided we’d take the toys out and put the papers in there, like a wastepaper basket, and we would burn them. What else do you do with paper? So we did and of course, since the toy box was right under the window, the curtains caught fire. Dick and I got scared and ran into the kitchen, got quart bottles and filled them with water. I’d run in and pour it on the fire and Dick would do the same thing. We kept running back and forth, but the fire kept getting bigger. Mrs. Parks, the housekeeper, happened to come in the and she put out the fire.
I think the second fire happened in the winter and we had one of those oil burners with holes on top to heat the bathroom. Dick and I were sitting on the radiator in the back bathroom, the bathroom in David and Ellie’s apartment, and it was so cold there was frost on the window. We would take one of the pieces of our Erector Set, put it in a hole to heat up and touch the frost on the window. At one point I leaned over a little too far, fell down on top of the oil burner and tipped it over. I had always been taught that if there’s a fire you run out and close the door… which I did. Dick was still on the radiator in back of the fire, and then the fire started up the curtains. I screamed for Mother and evidently she heard the panic in my voice and she responded immediately. As soon as she got upstairs and realized what was happening, she yelled for Lad to bring the fire extinguisher. As she got to the top of the stairs and started walking towards the bathroom, the door opened and Dick walked out. I put my hands on my hips and said, “How did you get out of there?” As if he had a lot of nerve to get out by himself. He explained that he crawled between the bathtub and the fire and get out that way and opened the door. Mother had on very flimsy gown and that caught on fire and I remember she put it out. Mother then took the rug from the hallway and threw it on the fire and put the fire out but the door was scorched where the flames had licked at it.
DAVE – Did any of m y brothers mention that we used to grow a little bit of mint across the front of the barn? My Dad really liked rhubarb and we grew a rhubarb patch.
BISS – At one point, my brothers… Evidently someone had cut down some rhubarb and when Dad got home, he was angry. He asked, “Who did this?” And they all said, “Biss did it.” I didn’t but I got spanked for it anyway.
In grammar school, I was taking tap dancing lessons and Dad would always forget to give me the money for the class. I’d have to go in and wake him up before I went to school. He’d say, “The money is in my pants pocket.”, and I’d open his wallet and there would be all this money, so instead of taking one dollar, I’d take two. I guess this went on for about three weeks. One morning, Dad said, “Sister, do you take any more money out of my wallet than the dollar?” I said, “Oh no, not me.” Then I realized that he knew right down to the penny, how much he had so I stopped taking it. I’m sure he knew that I was taking it.
Tomorrow, I’ll continue with more early memories of Trumbull.
On Monday, I’ll be posting letters from 1942. Both Dan and Lad have been drafted. Lad is at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland, and Dan is in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, but his unit may be moving.