Sisters have stories to share

February 17, 2020

I asked my friend Amie Sloan if she enjoyed seeing the latest film version of “Little Women.” Born in 1919, Amie will turn 101 this month. She laughed and told me, “There were four of us sisters. We played all the parts.”

We shared sister stories, as I am one of six. “I never had my own socks or underwear,” I confided.

Our mother would roll up our knee socks and place them in one basket. I had to make certain I got to the basket ahead of the other five to grab the pairs that still had some elastic at the top. Otherwise they would fall down around my ankles on the way to school, and I’d have to stop four or five times to yank them back up to my knees.

Our mother delivered our clean underwear to our shared bedrooms. Some of the underwear was in better shape than others, but at least they had rightful owners! Someone was always taking my underwear. Of course they all denied it, just like they denied biting the chocolate heads off my Easter rabbits.

When I was old enough to earn money babysitting, I bought a set of underwear that had all seven days of the week embroidered on the bottoms. No one could deny they were mine!

And then one morning while getting dressed for school, Tuesday was missing! I shouted all over the house, “Someone stole Tuesday! Give it back now!”

No one confessed and I fumed, forced to wear Wednesday, which threw off the entire week.

Like the girls in Louisa May Alcott’s novel “Little Women,” we put on plays which I wrote and directed. Admittance was a nickel and the money went to buy a chess set, or maybe potholder looms; I’m certain we argued about this too.

In one backyard play, I wrote a scene where my sister Bonnie received a bucket of water on her head. Oh, it was a delight to hear the entire neighborhood, mothers and their children perched on picnic tables and lawn chairs, howling with laughter at the scene I wrote.

We were constantly switching bedrooms because one of us absolutely refused to tolerate the other. Bonnie and I had recently become roommates. Our poor mother would throw her hands up in the air every time we hauled all our belongings into another room, promising her we would get along.

We fought over who got the bottom bunk over the top bunk. That night when I got up to use the bathroom, I forgot where I was, and like a puppet whose strings were clipped, down I folded onto the hard floor. My sister never stirred, feigning a soft snore while I groaned.

My friend Amie said that her younger sister used to hang around her and annoy the heck out of her. I told her that my youngest sister Laurie was my favorite. It seemed to me that by the time she was born, the others had all paired off. I claimed her as my own doll and rushed home after school to parade her stroller up and down the street.

Louisa May Alcott published her autobiographical novel “Little Women” in 1868. Generations are enjoying her story 152 years later. My mother bought us a copy, and all of us read it.

Did I tell you our mother was an only child? She thought that the most wonderful thing in all the world would be to have a sister. There were many moments when she was right. I owe her a great debt. And much gratitude to Louisa May Alcott, who pursued her dream of becoming an author.

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