Orofino was a lovely little idyllic town in
I remember the first day Weedle walked—some weeks before our brother. She actually sort of trotted, smiling a big smile, both hands up in the air at her sides. She was so delighted with herself. To set the record straight, I gave her the name of "Weedle". Her full name was Donna Louise Montre, and her twin, our brother, was Don Lee Montre. I think some of the family called her "Weezie", and I somehow devolved that to "Weedle", and it stuck.
When the twins were 2 and I was 5, we moved to
We arrived in
When we lived in that house, Weedle loved to collect locust shells in her little red wheelbarrow. It was heaping with them, and she would always say, "See how many I have?!" One time Butch, being a boy and full of mischief, dumped them out and she was heart-broken!! I remember Mama consoling her and scolding Butch. It was also in that house that once at dinner, Weedle was trying to be SO polite and grown-up and asked, "Please pass the catshit!"
We had a lot of fun at that house, even though we were only there for 2 years, I think. The yard was deep and shady, there was an alley, lots of foliage, and an old grape arbor—plenty of places for kids to play. When I was 8 and the kids were 5, we bought a new house—in a development of the type that were springing up all over the country, to accommodate veterans and their growing families. It was at
Anyway—it was a wonderful place to live, a neighborhood FULL of kids and dogs, no fences, and a feeling that things could only get better—a time of great optimism. In the summers we roamed the block, playing soft ball, kick the can, hide and seek, statues, and a game our mother taught us called "
We had a piano in that house—an old upright—and we all took lessons. Our mother played and we would sing sometimes.
We both, Weedle and I, had a lot of good memories of living in that house and neighborhood. We didn't have a dog, but we had LOTS of "friend" dogs—Pootsie and Andy, for two. They practically lived with us, and we loved them.
When the twins started first grade, it was in
Our parents often had us "perform" at that age. Every Saturday night, our paternal grandmother, "Gim", as we called her, and her sister, "Aunt Tu", would come over to watch TV. TV was still a new thing, and Mama would prepare snacks. Sometimes we would sing or play piano before the evening of TV began. We watched "Gunsmoke", "Have Gun, Will Travel", "Your Hit Parade", "George Gobel", etc. One evening the adults were wondering why Paladin of "Have Gun, Will Travel" didn't have a first name, and Weedle piped up, "He does!" When asked what it was, she replied, "Wire". Everyone thought that was pretty funny—his business card said, "Have Gun, Will Travel, Wire Paladin,
When the twins were about to enter 6th grade, our father decided we should move. We bought a house on the west side of
I think we remained pretty much "outsiders" all the years we lived in that house on
One memorable evening, Weedle and I decided to make "toothpick sculptures". We spent HOURS making very intricate, elaborate structures—we even kept them in our closets for a long time. We ran out of glue, so started using airplane glue—the odor drifted through the house and our brother woke up and had a fit! Mama came into the kitchen, and exclaimed, "Toothpicks! All over the floor!". We looked around and saw maybe two, so that made us laugh even more uproariously!! That phrase, "Toothpicks! All over the floor!", became one of our little "phrases" to use over the years.
I should have mentioned that our father died when the twins were 17 and I was 20. Our family had grown into sort of an armed camp. It was pretty terrible. Our father had been in a bomber shot down over Germany in WWII, and was severely burned—his face and hands, everything not covered by his flight suit. He lost an eye and was extremely disfigured, spent nearly 2 years in an Army hospital getting skin grafts, etc. He only weight 100 lbs. when his camp was liberated, and he had been a tall man, very handsome, black hair and blue eyes. He lost his teeth, and generally starved, nearly to death. His life, of course, was never the same. We, as kids, didn't really comprehend the pressures he was under, going into the public every day, etc. I know now that he also suffered from PTSD. At any rate, as the years passed and as we got older and more independent, things got worse for him, and he sort of turned on us and there came a point of no return. Our parents had separated a few months before he died. A few days before he died I went to see him, and he begged me to intervene and ask our mother to take him back—I of course declined.
Our father's death marked an end to a certain very controlled, rigid way of living, and everything just burst loose that had been so controlled. That summer of 1966, before she left for KU and began her "new life", we just lived wild, and loved it.
I'm not saying anything much about Weedle after she left—she always said her life sort of began when she went to KU…and in many ways it did. But—she used to like to talk with me about the times "before", when we were kids and adolescents. Also, of course, both she and I shared in the ensuing years things like marriage, kids, divorce, deaths of our brother and mother, our thoughts and feelings and triumphs. She was SO HAPPY during these recent years—I am very grateful for that. And she was ALWAYS there for me—I hope I was for her too.
Our mother was in a nursing home in
And now—I'm the last one left. It reminds me of that "Farmer in the Dell" song, where at the end, "The Cheese Stands Alone". As a child, I can remember always wanting to be "The Cheese", but now that I am, it isn't that much fun. More than ever, I look forward to joining them all.