Families come in all different packages, especially in today’s world. Many of us, perhaps most of us have brothers or sisters or both. Some have step siblings, some have half brothers or sisters and various combinations of all the possibilities. Some, I believe the less fortunate, are from a one child family. I say this because I was lucky enough to have two brothers, both older.
There were times however that conflicts arose, petty jealousies or maybe out right dislike. My oldest brother, we’ll call him Bob ’cause that was his nickname for Robert, was seven years older than me. That’s a big age difference when one is young. He was in junior high as I started school. While it was nice to have an older brother we really didn’t play together and my first memories of him are probably when I was seven or eight.
Resources were rather limited in our household but it seemed that a teen age Bob had more access to things than I did. In retrospect I realize that older kids have more responsibilities than the younger ones. For example, he might have to stay home to sort of babysit his kid brother(s) which probably he didn’t get compensated for (other than my sparkling personality) when he’d rather have been out playing with his own friends. Teenagers need more trendy clothes, though I doubt they were very trendy in our family. Bob also needed cash to take his romantic interests to the Friday night movie and my Dad would always find him a paying job, baling cardboard boxes at a grocery store or some such thing.
I recall that during WW2 we all played WAR, Bob got to be Mike, the pilot or sergeant while I was always a Kraut, a Hynie or a Nip. I was never on a winning team. Since I didn’t know what any of those were it probably didn’t leave any lasting trauma in my life. I did know that Mike or sergeant was something to aspire to be, otherwise why would he pull rank on me. Sometimes we played a card game called War which was just each player turning a card over and the highest card won the rest of the players’ cards that had been turned up.. The beauty of that was all the broken decks of cards could be used and it didn’t matter. The winner was declared by whoever ended up with the most cards when supper was announced.
Bob was a big kid, played high school football but his academic career was cut short because of algebra. His high school grades reflected more interest in football and romance and he convinced our parents that he should drop out of school half way through his junior year and join the army the day he was 17.He was disappointed that his birthday fell on a Sunday but Monday morning Dad took him downtown Minneapolis to the recruiting office and signed his permission and Bob had his wish come true. Thus ended any sibling rivalry,if there ever really was any. I was 10 and though I missed him it wasn’t bad because we had never been friends, only brothers.
Brother William or Bill was two years older and the one I followed around. He was sort of my teacher or coach when it came to sports. He too was a big guy for his age but we played together, handy to have a play mate in the same house. After Bob had left Bill and I didn’t have to share the same bed, Bill moved into Bob’s area, I stayed in the bedroom.
Bill wasn’t academically oriented either so my mother would tell me to help him with his math homework but I usually just ended up doing it so we could get outside faster to play . There wasn’t really much homework back then, I guess teachers taught during the classroom time.
Hand-me-down clothes were the norm in our household, Bill had grown into whatever Bob had left and my mother was always busy making the larger sizes smaller so the clothes could be used. Because I was a skinny kid not much fit without a major re-tailoring. I was envious of Bill because he seemed so self assured, being bigger and all. He was a good ice skater while I was barely able to stand up. He always got chosen first at our pick up games while I was hoping not to be picked last. No one really is chosen last, the last one standing goes to the team whose turn it was to pick.
It was good though to have a big brother that could guide me through the intricacies of junior high, walk to school and a ready play mate. We had the squabbles like most siblings but since he always won the physical matches I learned quickly not to go that route. I could out debate (argue) him until my mother couldn’t stand it anymore and would either separate us or make us go outside.
My Dad’s health was in decline and we moved from Minneapolis to a farm in northern Minnesoda. It was a cultural shock for two city kids but we took to the rural life in a big way. We’d always had guns but now we could shoot, hunt and fish. The sort of rivalry continued on but now on a more equal footing. I learned to trap, Bill didn’t care much about that. We lived 16 miles from school. Bill was now a senior, big, good looking, and played a good game of high school football and football players could get a ride home after practice.
My folks were not keen on school sports because of the injury possibility and it took away from our work schedule at home. Anyway, Bill’s interest in the ladies continued while I was still a skinny, introverted kid. He graduated, left home but missed his romantic interests and came back soon. By this time I was a very tall skinny introverted kid. Though I was very shy, my SIL, Bob’s wife, had taught me how to dance. Many of my contemporaries were still a little awkward and embarrassed but when the music started I was the first one to get a partner and do some steppin’. Of course, the girls had taught one another how to dance and wanted to dance with a boy and didn’t want to get chosen last or not chosen at all. I was a different person on the dance floor while my brothers were holding back and waiting for a slow tune.
Then school is over, the birds had to leave the nest, learn to fly on their own. As with many families we moved in different directions, my brothers and I rarely got back to see our parents. We seldom saw one another for thirty years and then it was only for a day or so.
As we aged we found ourselves living closer to each other, sort of migrating back towards our roots. I retired near my brother Bill, Bob would make several trips each year to visit, fish and hunt with us. We always ended up at my house, I had room, Mrs Fourscore would put up with us. She said she enjoyed having them around because they ate everything. We would laugh and tease each other again, much as we had done when we were growing up. It was great having two brothers again. We had about 25 good years of camaraderie and then reality set in.
Both left this earthly world about 8 years ago. I hung up my dancing shoes a long time ago. I have two old friends from high school that live nearby, they too have become their family patriarchs and we’ve sort of adopted each other.
I’m grateful for the Glib community, having younger friends even if we don’t know one another on a really personal level. Its a good place to trade ideas, ask questions and not feel so alone in the libertarian wilderness. TPTB have done a magnificent job.
*We’ll be having the Honey Harvest on Sunday, Sep 15th. All glibs and lurkers are invited. We live in North Central MN, draw a line from Duluth to Fargo and we’re ½ way in between, 100 miles in each direction. Pot luck, family friendly, a little educational. Friends, family and neighbors will be in attendance as well and we hope some of you good folks can make it. It’ll be a great way to meet new people. If you are interested give a shout out for directions.
There are several glibs that should be here so you’ll meet someone you know from these pages.