My sister Libby and I went to my mother’s Thursday afternoon party at Winchester Meadows where mother now lives. We had a blast. Actually, I think everyone at our table had a blast, because as Libby and I left, the ladies asked us to return to provide entertainment next month.
It all began innocently enough, Carol’s asking if the two of us were close when we were growing up. I explained that Libby was always close when she began whaling away on me, almost every day, especially during the summer. I was innocent, minding my own business, reading my Nancy Drew books, playing first base at Ricky Hood’s house, or riding my bike, and Libby was plotting a way to devil me and then blame me for whatever happened. Not that Libby was mean; on the contrary, she was just full of fun and impishness.
Once we started down memory lane, we found it difficult to stop, regaling our tablemates with tales of surreptitiously calling Grandpa from home, telling him that we wanted to go to Dairy Queen. Our parents could never quite figure out why he showed up and told us to hop in the car to go get an ice cream cone.
Worse, when we were visiting grandma and grandpa’s house, Libby and I would sneak out to grandpa’s black Pontiac (with the added air conditioning unit) and honk the horn until he came outside. By the time he made it to the car, he could see us bouncing up and down in the front seat, which was upholstered in the finest lime green vinyl, yelling. “Dairy Queen! Dairy Queen!” He let one of us sit on his lap to drive down the dirt road to the blacktop, and the other one sit on his lap to steer back toward the house after we were sticky with melted ice cream. Our parents never knew about that.
Libby continued to tell stories, including her 14th birthday, when police chief Tuffy Davis – yes, Tuffy – told my father that when Libby turned 16 and got a driver’s license, Tuffy was going to retire. But he didn’t have to wait until Libby turned 16.
We moved to Blue Springs when Libby was 15, and when she went back to Thayer in the summer to visit her friend Donna Potter, Donna talked Libby into sneaking out of the house in violation of a curfew – at least that’s Libby’s story. Well, Tuffy was on patrol and saw the two girls walking around town (as if anything was going to happen in Thayer on a summer evening in 1972), so he pulled out the spotlight and started chasing them. According to Libby, Donna shouted, “Run!!!,” and they hotfooted it around the corner and hid in a hedge. Before Tuffy hit the hedge with the light, Donna took off running, leaving Libby crouching and hiding for her life. Libby says that Tuffy hollered, “Libby Gillespie! I know you’re in there!,” but she kept her mouth shut, and eventually he moved on. I imagine he had a big laugh after that.
Of course, you will notice that none of these stories is about me. Even Libby admits that I never got into any trouble. Of course I didn’t. If I had done anything close to what Libby did, my mother would have killed me. And when the ladies at the table asked who Libby took after, we tried to figure out whose genes had carefully crafted her into a child who would plot with her doctor to keep her out of school for trumped-up illnesses. It didn’t take us very long.
Have I told you about my great uncle? His name was Alva Edwin, but everyone called him “Son.” We called him Unky. Unky, when he was a wee lad, told my great grandfather that he wanted to keep the baby mice he had found in the barn as pets – until he broke down and confessed that he really wanted to fry them up and eat them for supper. Yes, Libby got Unky’s genes. And some day, I will regale you – and my mother’s friends at Winchester – with the stories that are legend. You won’t believe what Unky did.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.