Sunday is Parents’ Day. Since becoming a parent 17 years ago, I appreciate my own more.
On weekends when our parents were off shopping or visiting, my brothers and I would have all-day battles. After tensions escalated, we would get bogged down in household trench warfare.
We’d hunker down inside our respective bedrooms and wait for an enemy combatant to poke his head out for a look-see. We would then bounce a GI Joe or shoe off their domes.
When our parents returned, there was an immediate cease-fire. My brother Orvis would yell, “Red Alert! Mom and Dad are home! Nobody tells on nobody, right?”
“Nobody tells on nobody” was to us as sacred as the Mafia’s omertà; their code of silence. We knew if even one of us broke the code, my dad would use The Dreaded Belt on us.
Now, all bets were off if a week later one of us were caught in a trespass. In order to try to minimize their own offense, the perpetrator would turn state’s evidence and spill their guts about a theretofore unpunished epic battle.
I don’t know how my parents dealt with five boys.
Other local residents shared stories of their parents:
Jeanine Del Ponte: My momma grew up in the Louisiana woods, so she knew a lot about plants and animals and the country. She showed us how these purple flowers at Rockville Park looked like bunny faces. She would get this thistle flower and take all the thorns off and show us how to turn it into a brush. I loved that about her.
Tracy Vest: I once helped myself to the loose change on my dad’s nightstand and got a giant pixie stick from the ice cream man. When he arrived home, he knew my allowance was already gone and asked where I got the money. I said, “I dunno,” then with him staring at me with that stern military expression, I caved like a puppy dog and he spanked me for lying. As he was pouring my pixie stick down the drain, through my crocodile tears I said: “The least you could do is let me have the rest of my pixie stick!” I got another spanking. I don’t eat pixie sticks anymore.
Heather Sanders: When I was young, we had a large sundial-type analog clock on the wall and when my sister and I would argue, my father would say if we wanted to act like babies, he would turn us back into babies. He’d then walk up to the clock and slowly start winding the second hand backward as my sister and I cried “No daddy! We’re sorry!”
Jolene Mooney-Shermer: I grew up in Suisun Valley and we had no garbage service, so we’d burn what we could in the orchard. When we had a truckload of nonburning stuff, we’d all pile into our truck and head to the dump and stop to get ice cream in Suisun City. It was always a fun family event to go to the dump!
Cindy Osborne Holt Roberts: My mom was a single parent for 16 years and did such a great job raising me and my two brothers. Being a single parent wasn’t as normal as it is nowadays. She had no choice; my dad died when I was 7 months old. She worked out at Travis Air Force Base and would invite airmen who couldn’t be with their own families to eat with us on holidays. She married my stepdad when I was 17 and I am so lucky to have him in my life. A parent doesn’t have to be blood to be a great parent.
Susan Macy Luckenbach: When we lived on Van Buren Street in the 1950s, an ice cream truck perused the neighborhood each afternoon. My 3-year-old sister found a stash of our mom’s coins in a bowl. After a few months, my mom noticed they were almost gone. Our mom had been collecting old Spanish coins she had found on our property. I’m not sure of their value, but I bet there’s an ice cream man somewhere living the good life.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].