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Hear That Whistle Blow XI - Tomboy and Second Mother

Jackie tells of the many adventures and emotions of a little girl growing up in a large family in the fifties.

Katie is a tomboy outside in the woods and trails, loving her freedom. She is a second little mother inside to her three younger brothers. Both of these fill her life with fun and fulfillment.


At the End of the Street Where She Lived.

Katie's friend at the end of Pine Street, near the big woods, was a fun place to go. This was the sister of her big brother's friend. The one with blonde hair and blue eyes that Katie loved to look at.

The only time she got to see him was when he was at her house helping her brother mow. Still, she lived in hope of spotting him home one day. Katie's big brother and he seemed to work every minute they were not in school. Possibly they went hunting or fishing too. Katie never knew.

This was a very long walk from Katie's house and the opposite end of the street from where the main highway was with her other friend that lived on this street. The one whose father was killed in an accident.

Katie's friend here was not her age, but one year older. They did not see each other in school so they were not close, not seeing each other often. They did walk up the street together in the evenings from the bus. But both being in a hurry to get home, they did not doddle to talk or make much conversation. These visits were their only chance.

She had a big sister Katie's sister's age, but her sister and Katie's were not friends. They thought this was too bad since the older brothers and younger sisters were friends. This friend's sister was very nice and they shared a bedroom in union and spoke very friendly to each other. Her sister might learn some manners here, but no luck there.

As nice as this friend was Katie did not mind when she was not home. She simply went to the edge of the woods to play. She was not allowed in these woods. She was very careful to keep watch for whatever it was her mother was afraid of but never ran into any danger. The woods here were denser and more mysterious so she would go as close a possible to peep in. She gathered beautiful pine cones every time she went. The pines seemed taller and the sky bluer and sometimes darkness would almost fall before Katie remembered to hurry home. That is why she often would get stubbed toes from running so fast. She never wore shoes in summer unless she went somewhere in a car and of course to the school.

Large Families


Nice to Look at But Did Not Want to Live There

Katie started going back to the friend’s house whose father had been killed. Everyone was smiling and happy again. They never talked about these grandparent’s son or this friend’s daddy, ever. A large photo of him was in the living room and Katie tried never to look at it when anyone was around but she loved to study it when no one was. She could feel him there still, although she knew he couldn’t be. Maybe they felt that too and that is why no one cried anymore.

She also made a new friend from school who lived on the main highway in a nice brick house with a garage. Both parents worked and they were well to do as her mother called it. Katie could visit her by walking on the dirt road behind her house.

If she went to the end of this road and turned right she could see the highway and the house where this friend lived. This friend's mother was a nurse and her father a house builder and she only had a brother so there was not many for them to buy for as it was at her house. This friend's house was very nice inside too and had a black piano that her brother played. The brother was very shy but smiled at Katie and made her feel welcome whenever she came by.

Her friend took ballerina lessons and Katie loved to see her clothes and shoes and there were pictures of her in them everywhere. She looked like a princess. Her hair was long, black and shiny and she had her own bedroom all to herself with all new things in it. As in awe as Katie was of these things she knew very well she would never be a ballerina or would there be money for her to be anything special like this. She was OK with this, though, it really did not seem like something she would want to do, other than to wear the clothes.

Katie always felt afraid to touch anything and was not comfortable indoors there. She always wanted to play outside in the yard or run along the dirt road that had no cars. But this friend did not like outside and was not allowed to leave her yard. She would sometimes come outside for a few minutes. She just did not fit there any more than Katie fit inside her house. They liked each other very much and talked at school often but they had little in common when playing.



Busy from Morning until Night.

It seemed Katie was the only one of her closest friends allowed to run free. Here on this back road Katie could go into the woods and see wildflowers and dogwoods when they were in bloom. She picked teaberries she saw dotting the forest floor. Often she would take some to her brothers. Finding birch she would chew the tender twigs from it and then take some to her mother to make tea for everyone.

Her father worked from late day into the nights. Katie watched after the baby all the time she was home leaving her mother with more free time than she had enjoyed in a long time. Her mom had them all day while Katie was at school but once Katie was home she was like the little mommy. Her mother could lay down and rest or catch up on cleaning or washing clothes or even sewing, while Katie had fun entertaining her three little brothers.

The baby was in his bed of course but he could sit up or even pull himself up and hold to the rails to look out. He was not walking yet but he was very close. His two bigger brothers talked to him and played with him too. He didn’t know how to play the games they played but he enjoyed the activities and laughter as if he did.


Sometimes a Mother at Heart.

Fridays were best because Katie’s mom always cleaned house for the weekend then although there was rarely any company. She would wax the big living room floor and let it dry. Then Katie and her two brothers first got on their knees to rub the wax away from the edges where they could not skate. Then once they had the rest enough to make it slick they could skate in old socks all over.

The baby loved this, for his bed had to be moved out to get under his bed too. The polish smell was so good and Katie and the boys had so much fun. It was always a letdown to have to stop and turn over the socks to their mother.

Their payment was always popcorn and some sort of homemade candy. Katie’s mother made penuche, sea foam, peanut butter rolls, or fudge. It was always up to their mother based on what she had on hand to fix for them. They loved them all and gladly accepted whatever she fixed.

Baths came first with Katie and then her two brothers together while her mom bathed the baby. She loved to watch this and smell all the wonderful smells of the soap, lotion, and powder. The smell and softness of the baby's fresh clean gown made Katie snuggle up with him until he finished his bottle and fell asleep for the night. She thought it would be wonderful to be a grown mother and wear jewelry and fancy dresses. One baby would be enough though, she did not want so many.

Later they would have their treat while watching television and by the time the show ended they were all worn out, sleepy and ready for bed.

Life was fun now at this age for Katie... inside and outside.

© 2017 Jackie Lynnley

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