A few years ago, my sister Mary Ellen got to teasing my brother Will about his having been the only one with a room to himself while we were growing up. “Privacy, Mary said, Mom and Dad probably just wanted to give you a little privacy.” My Brother Will laughed and said, “Sure, the only room with four doors, pretty private, eh?” Well, I just fell down laughing. And I remembered… he was right. In that tiny house on W 114th street in Cleveland, my brother (and occasionally my Great Grandmother) were the only one’s with their own rooms. But his room’s location allowed no privacy at all.
I don’t believe that room had more than 3 ft. of continuous wall space. Everywhere you looked there was a door, a door to the Attic steps (my two oldest sisters room) a door to our dormitory room with two sets of bunk beds and four more sisters sleeping in it. That tiny bedroom of his was really a pass-thru room for at least 6 sisters just to get to bed. It’s location guaranteed my brother a continuous stream of angry sisters either whining about going to bed or mad at having to wake up. It’s no wonder he took off at about the age of 11 and seemed to disappear into the world of his buddies and baseball. He never did like a parade.
Meanwhile my Great Grandma Brown (or as my sisters called her “G.B.’) was the only other person with a single accommodation. Usually you went into her room, under duress and with a bribe. She would piecemeal out her little pastel dinner mints one at a time or her Jergen’s hand lotion a drop at a time. Generous soul, she was.
The only thing I can ever remember her saying was, as she dropped a drop of Jergens lotion onto my hand, was if I should I ever come into her room and find her still and cold … get Mom.
Gosh , I thought, if you’re still and cold, I won’t be able to stop running long enough to tell anybody! Boy, did she have the wrong kid! Serious people stuff was handled by the entire other end of that crowd, my older Sisters, they would know what to do if a corpse popped up, not me. I’d be RUNNING!!!! OK, maybe with the mints and the Jergens but running.