Forced tolerance turns into great friendship for pair of siblings

How would you like it? How would you like to be the center of attention — perhaps the princess — for five years, two months and 20 days? Then, out of the blue, her mom came home from St. Joseph Riverside Hospital with a little bundle of joy — me — her little baby brother. This must have been quite a shock — especially since this was not what my sister had ordered.

So, my sister had to learn to adapt, to make compromises, to share, to try to be tolerant or, in a phrase, she had to learn the ominous job of being a big sister.

I don’t remember much about the first couple of years here on earth, but I did get to feel a niggling little bit of something I couldn’t quite put a pudgy finger on.

Oh, yeah. Can you imagine how it was for her to make plans to go visit a girlfriend, or go to a birthday party or Halloween party, or go to a movie without Mom saying to her, “Take your little brother with you.” My sister wasn’t the only big sister in the neighborhood. It turned out though, that she was about the only big sister to have a little brother. Most had a little sister.

Movies were what I think Big Sis sort of accepted as tolerable. However, I became an adult before I ever saw either Humphrey Bogart or Wallace Beery in a movie because my big sister didn’t like them. We always went to either the Harris-Warren or the Robins theaters. She didn’t care for the Post or the Ohio. After the Daniel Theater opened, she would half-heartedly take me there. Besides, the Daniel had double features.

My favorite was the Harris-Warren, because there were extra wide seats placed on the aisles — I suppose they were for dating couples, but they sure were extra comfy. After the movies, my sister, her girlfriend, her girlfriend’s little sister and I would go to the Hi-Ho on High Street for a milkshake or at Rodney Ann’s next to the Harris-Warren for a frosted malted. Then, we two tag-alongs and our big sisters would board the bus for home. Even as kids, we felt perfectly safe being downtown after dark, and we could get home without having to rely on our parents to pick us up.

When my sister became a teen, her girlfriends abounded at our house. Inevitably, bunches of teen-aged boys who went to Harding or Niles McKinley showed up at our doorstep. Surprisingly, I got along just fine with these guys. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were very deftly pumping me for information about my sister and her girlfriends.

It didn’t seem so terrible anymore to be the tag-along little brother. My sister’s girlfriends treated me almost like a date, and one place I would go with the whole gang of them was Jimmy’s Inn in Niles.

The guys taught me all sorts of games and jokes — although some were a little beyond my years. All-in-all, those guys were pretty nice, kind and fun to be around. I became pretty popular in shop class when I would relay to my male classmates some new jokes I had learned.

I always think of my sister’s girlfriends with affection. They treated me well, and they taught me how to slow dance. This was a big asset when it came to going to the Friday night dances at East Junior.

Although I’m sure I was a big pain to my big sister as we grew up. I’ve seen her become married and have kids and grandkids. I’ve done the same. Now as octogenarians, we’re pretty good friends. Maybe she’s forgotten some of the shock that was visited upon her when her little brother came home from the hospital.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@tribtoday.com.

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