A PRIVATE NOVEL - BULLIES OF CAROLTOWN BOOKS I, II & III FROM NYC TO CAROLTOWN!

When a wealthy family moves to Caroltown, all hell breaks loose when they move to the bay and begin the journey back to where they belonged.
When a wealthy family moves to Caroltown, all hell breaks loose when they move to the bay and begin the journey back to where they belonged. | Source

CAN A TOWN CHANGE THE FUTURE OF ONE GIRL?

PROLOGUE: (AND BOOK 1 AND BOOK II)

I call this memoir a “Private Novel”, because I want to write it for myself and see what went wrong, what went right, and how I became the scapegoat of everyone connected to my childhood and my past. I’m hoping to find out that I’m not cursed at all, but led to believe it by certain individuals in my life for their own selfish needs and ego feeding frenzy.

I can be brutally honest and that is the first lesson I learned about family and relatives and their fringes. They do not want me with them and they’ve made that perfectly clear in the past 30 years!

I've always had this keen ability to remember things that happened way back when I was a baby. If anyone throws out a date and year, I could almost pinpoint what I was doing on that day and where I was, etc. Sometimes I feel it's a curse to have such an ability. With my past it may be better to not to remember it, especially in the state of mind I am right now as I type this. My family doesn't want any part of me, and I don't really blame them. I've smeared their names into the dust of the net and written open truthful articles on them.

So to start at the very "private" begnnng as I see it in my Genetic Memory, my biographical brain that is able to remember small details, big details and all details and dates of the past in greater detail and imagery than the mortal humans out there.

When my family moved from New York City to that small town, we'd become friends with a few of the neighborhood boys. At first they teased me relentlessly, but after a few months they realized how our parents didn't watch us, and we could all hang out in our huge playroom, which was totally on the other side of the large home my dad rented on a beautiful Bay. They didn't tease me as much, but I still felt like an outsider and they would talk to my sister like a buddy, and then turn to me and say some horrid thing about my hair, face or fingers.

Douglas, Kent and Damian were the kids we were hanging with in our neighborhood of the new town we lived in. We'd play football and basketball in the huge 2 acre yard, teased each other, and then discovered my dad's dry bar, so the boys began to drink Vodka. They were drunk, but my sister and I had taken a Vodka bottle and put water in it and pretended to get drunk. The boys fell for it, thinking we were drunk too, but sis and I were just acting.

That's how we would spend our weekends. Sometimes we did other things, like roam around the neighborhood and cause a bit of havoc. There was a construction site nearby and we'd go there and run around climbing on the wooden frame of a house being put up.

Once, as some sort of rebellion on my part, because the boys had been picking on me more of late, I took a poop right in the middle of what was going to be a big living room at the construction site we'd been hanging around. There was toilet paper handy, so I did my business right there, wiped up and left. Then a few days later the boys came by and were all laughing and hooting about it. They took us to the spot. Both my sister and I made faces. I tried to act nonchalant, but for some reason Doug could always see right through me.

He looked at the now dried large human feces, then at me, then back to the darkened crap on the wooden floor, then back to me again. "I think that's yours," he screamed, running to the end of the site and screaming. The others were saying "No way, Doug," no frickin' way!"

I started to run after Doug, and I was laughing outside, but scared on the inside. I had done it. But I didn't want them to think it was me! I wanted them to think it was Kent, since he was the tallest and very quiet. Or maybe one of the burly construction workers. That's the whole joke of it. But Douglas insisted it was me. I was petrified when he fingered me as the culprit. How remarkable. Well, I tried to move on with it by taking a stick and pushing it under a wall fixture. Out of sight, out of mind, Oy Vey!

Even from the very beginning of us moving there, we were discovering our sexuality and it didn't help that the street next door, Strawhill Drive was known as the biggest "Lover's Lane" spot that the high school kids went to neck and make out.

At first the guys wouldn't show us the spot. They'd sneak in the bushes to watch what was going on with all the fogged up windows and shadows. We'd hear the echo of their hooting and cat call noises, and some of the couples in the car got out and chased them. Maybe it was because we were girls, and the guys felt it would not be good if it got back to their pals at school that they were hanging around a bunch of girls!

Finally, one evening, the boys took us with them. We sneaked across our property and hid in the sea of milkweeds and brush that bordered the bay. You could see shapes sitting in their vehicles and hear them talking, laughing, and the clink of beer bottles. There must have been about 8 cars parked there.

Afterwards, the next morning, we'd return there and see used, discarded condoms and would pick them up with a stick to look closer. Then the boys would take it and throw it at us or we'd throw it at each other.

And that’s how the darkroom antics expanded just a bit with them and me. At first the boys were roguish and mean. They'd give us little punches in the arm, and sometimes by the pool (that never got filled and was covered) we'd play the game "Saved Your Life," where you'd push the person and then grab them and save them from falling and say, "Saved your life!"

One cool March evening right before Easter when we'd been there almost 6 months, the boys came over and we all sat on the porch in the front of the house. We were just talking and Damian sat next to me on the stone wall and saw that I had "nipples" and I was not wearing a bra. At that time I did have large breasts for my age, so he casually put his arm around me and I wanted him to touch me there.

I could smell him. His scent was like lotion and a slight smell of after shave, even though I could see his peach fuzz, no whiskers. He put his hand slowly in my tee shirt and started to play with my nipples with his calloused fingers. I liked it and felt the attention of it. Suddenly, Douglas put his arm around my younger sister. But she would not let him put his hand in her shirt. In fact, she didn't ever let them do to her what they did and I did to them! I didn't blame her, she was not being bullied, and I was. She had so many friends, I did not. She was popular and funny, I was unpopular and funny looking!

Kent was there too, and ignored it, just talking and babbling and joking about stuff. It was an intense feeling for me. Usually people were bullying me or teasing me about my hair and clothes. I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I also had strange looking, crooked fingers, and my older brothers were not popular at school and were rather shy and odd as well. My sister had a good reputation because she was at a small elementary school on Pine Hill. My mother always said her favorite thing was to pick my sister up there, by Waddles Pond.

After the expose on the porch we moved to the darkroom way down in the other side of the home in the 'Playroom' as it was called. One at time, each boy came in, lay on the floor and I gave each a short hand job. I didn't make them come, but I just lightly placed my hand on the member, and talked dirty to them. It was sort of innocent, but...?

I remember how each one felt and how much better I was getting. Also, it occurred to me that I didn't feel guilty or dirty about this. I felt like they were good friends after 6 months and they were nicer to me when I did it. I knew what I was doing and what it was, but still did it for them in the very beginning of our friendship that lasted almost 7 years.

As for what we did in that darkroom, no one ever even thought about telling anyone at school or at home. It was just a little secret between us. They were not dirty, just a bit rambunctious and boyish; young and playful. We had fun and got close in the time we lived there.

We did that for about 5 months, just the boys and I, NOT MY SISTER! I ended up in there with our friends, those same boys, and probably gave them their first hand jobs ever in their young lives! I'm sure of it now that I think back! It was an innocent thing, and because of it, I was always good at it. Not a totally horrible affair, I learned!

It sounds bad when I read this back because those boys will know who they are when and if they ever read this. I'm torn! Part of me wants to erase this novel, and the other part of me wants it to stay. I guess it's going to stay, so read on, the next segment is very personal.

As for my little sister, SHE NEVER did what I was doing to those boys. She NEVER gave those close neighbor boys hand jobs EVER. I was very daring and was hurting for friends. I had learned about it from a book on sex my father had hidden in his den closet.

My best pal Serena and I talked in great length about the act of it, how it was done and all the basics in print. I want to make that perfectly clear that all sis did back then was lightly make out, if at all! As time went by she had been asked out by several boys in her class, and was dating them.

Finally, after we'd been there for 1 year, I had a chance to make out with Kent, who was a bit of a nerd type. He had the small slate blue eyes of a mouse, and was very pale. He had a long skinny frame and was not deemed handsome.

We started making out on a couch. He was slobbering all over me, like he had post nasal drip and was fumbling at his pants trying to get in control. When I took his member in my hand, the first thing I noticed was how much bigger it was than the other boys. It also curved like a bow and was hard. He was trying to have sex with me, and that's when I stopped and made him put his pants on. Things had gone too far. Holding it was one thing! Letting him put it in me was a big NO-NO.

After that we all started making fun of him about the curve. Douglas would rib his buddy and say "Oh, Kent, I heard that guy's that play with themselves too much have a 'curvy' one."

"Oh, shut the hell up, Doug," said Kent. His eyes began to tear.

I suddenly jumped up as if a light bulb went off in my brain, "Hey!" I came to the middle of the room as I straightened my shirt and zipped up my cords. "Kent is the one who crapped at the construction site! It looks like his thingy," I yelled, falling down on the floor laughing.

"You better shut your mouth," Kent said, getting up from the couch."You looked at that dump a long time, you raggy dirt bag," said Kent, running over to me and punching me hard in the right arm. He'd never done that before and this time his punch really hurt. I walked away from him crying and locking myself in the playroom bathroom. I sat on the toilet staring at the shower door that had an etching of a naked women with big boobs on it. I massaged my arm and swore I'd never do anything with these guys again. And besides, I wanted a boyfriend.

Meanwhile, a few minutes later, Doug was trying to make out with my sister. He sat with her in the Playroom on the Italian leather couch by the fireplace and put his arm gingerly around her. They made out a little bit, and he coaxed her outside by the rose garden butting up against the house. At that time she was not dating anyone.

I felt a twinge of jealousy because 5 months to the day we moved there I'd had a big fight with Damian, the other neighbor boy that initially started this whole new thing. We were all playing in the yard. The boys began to wrestle each other. I teased Damian about something and he turned around and punched me very hard on my right temple. I went down in a heap. I was crying and carrying on, so my dad ran out and told Damian to leave. After that he had moved away suddenly.

And it MUST BE NOTED AGAIN, so you all get the point clear in your minds: My sister NEVER gave those boys hand jobs EVER. It was not her thing.

We were all young and testing the waters that girls and boys did at that age. AGAIN, MY SISTER NEVER GAVE THOSE KIDS HAND JOBS EVER, it was not her M.O. And this was almost 40 years ago, but like yesterday to me due to the fact I kept accurate journals of those days.

After Damien moved, Doug didn't want me to give him anymore hand jobs. He was stuck on my sister, having developed a little crush on the cute looking girl. No doubt about it, sis had it. She didn't have to give hand jobs to be popular with the boys; she really was pretty and had a cute laugh. I know that she wouldn't ever give those kids what I did. It just was that way. I was the more daring one and she was more demure!

I was sitting around with Kent in the playroom making a halfhearted attempt at making conversation and not going into the darkroom just to get him to be nice to me. Douglas and my sister were outside. I walked outside and looked in the rose garden and saw them making out. They were in a lip lock.

I just walked by and took quick looks; it was sort of a blur. When I came around again, Doug had his pants down and I could see the glow of his white underwear. I saw the look on my sister's face, and she was on the verge of tears. This was not her way. I don't know why she got herself into it, maybe Doug was on his toes and saw an opportunity. Whatever the fact was, I wanted to rescue my sister.

I went right into action and created a diversion. "Doug, my housekeepers coming!" He jumped up, pulled up his corduroy jeans and ran back into the playroom. Sis seemed relieved, got up and brushed herself off. We looked at each other and both cracked up, because we knew the guys were drunk but we were not. But she didn't really like all the hoopla of making out with the boys like I did. We were very different on that level.

The Wizard of Oz was playing on the huge color set in the playroom, my parents were out and it was very close to Halloween, so every one of us was rambunctious. The housekeeper noticed we were acting a bit drunk. She was yelling at us all and asked the boys to go. They cursed her out and didn't leave, just hung out at the top of our long driveway making noise and making a general nuisance of themselves.

Douglas’ booming voice could be heard over the other boys. He was the cutest and the leader of the pack. Kent was not handsome, very shy, and not popular. Damien was gone, and Sam wasn’t around as much as Damien had been in the early days. But when the guys left our house, it seemed Sam would all of a sudden appear there to be with them at the top of the street.

After that confrontation, the guys began saying our housekeeper smelled. She didn't shave her underarms. But her uniform was neat and ironed.

One evening Douglas and Kent had come over and were hanging out. Our faithful housekeeper, by that time, was staying in her own house in the next town, so we all went down to the maid's quarters near the cedar closet, laundry and pantry rooms that were once "off limits" to us.

Our laundry was still being done by the sister of Flo Migliachi, the woman that practically raised me. Ginny and her husband Arthur washed our clothes lovingly every other Saturday. They were so kind to us. They teased me, but meant well. Her husband called me "Chief" because I loved American Indians. They were wonderful when I was sick and made me laugh and feel better. I awoke to the sound of their booming voices traveling up the laundry chute by my bed. They were always upbeat and fun.

Douglas and my sister were lying on the old bed in the maid's quarters. Kent and I were going through some drawers and found douches and an old uniform. We threw a few of the medicated douches at Doug and my sister. Doug got up and put on the old uniform and walked around mimicking our housekeeper.

It was so odd to see him wearing that uniform. I began to laugh harder than I had ever laughed at anything these guys said in the past 2 years. Thinking back to then, it was very mean and not great behavior from kids living in luxury.

We were kids having fun. If my father had ever really found out what was going on in that playroom, he would have banned those boys from our house. My mother in her youth had played the Jazz clubs of New York and hung out with Alvin Ailey, James Earl Jones and Eartha Kitt, so we had no business making fun of our housekeeper.

The Playroom at the far end of the house on the bay was most interesting. It was like a second home and even had a kitchen, a few guest rooms, a woodworking room, a storage room, a bathroom and a dry bar with fireplace and cookout stoves. And of course the 'darkroom', which wasn't being used to screen movies!

The Playroom started out as my Dad’s domain. When we first moved there, he’d lie on the Italian couch and watch TV, have a drink or snack. There was even secret panels in the walls and empty rooms that led to secret paths around the property.

When we first moved, my dad had allowed my brothers to have a party and they invited the town. A few days after this party some guys came back and stole all my dad's precious stereo equipment and some of his personal things, like a golden golf ball, and cups and such things men kept.

The items were returned but Dad had no heart in coming down to the Playroom to watch TV and hang out after that, so he avoided it like the plague and usually parked himself in my brother's sitting room. How sad that he would harden himself like that. He'd set up a 210 gallon salt water fish tank, with all the fixings and would lay on the couch and watch and nap. He said it relaxed him. But he could have easily set it up in the Playroom and had more room in there all by himself, but never did. Dad was an odd man, and I don't think I will truly understand his motives.

That got me thinking about the pool area, a row of cabanas and a huge Olympic sized swimming pool with a slide and diving board. It was all covered up and not working. There might have been two reasons for it. The first was that Dad was short on money and maintaining a pool might have been a dream back then for him. So he left it alone and told us to stay away from it, which, of course, we didn't.

I found out later that because of my mother's stint in 1945 with Polio from swimming in a pool, she didn't allow my father to set up the pool area, which was a whole set of rooms in itself. It could have been rented out or fixed up as a guest quarters. And that did explain why both my sister and myself had a high fear of water as children, because of my own mother's fear of water, and her mother's (my grandmother) fear of water. It was a blueprint in our brains.

Dad would stay up in his study, or in my brother's den, and sometimes his bedroom. And Mom never came down unless she heard us carrying on. It became our domain. And, when we moved to this house on the bay, things financially were not very good, and very volatile.

NATE FINS & HIS HONDA!

My homeroom was half the school's football team and cheer leading squad. Since I was a bit hyper and excitable, they'd thrown me into that group, which I learned is probably how I got in a class full of pure bullies. Aggressive football players, high spirited pep rally types, drunk on peer pressure and popularity, a bit much for being that age.

I was in the middle of it all, having just shed the little boy clothes called Dance Skins, easy fitting stretch pants, striped colored shirts and funny boat sneakers with white socks. Although I was wearing jeans and a tee shirt, I still stank of Social Dysfunction sniffed out by the higher uppers in my home room class. All the popular kids in one group in that class.

So now after enduring the bullying by the poor children at the NYC school, I was acting like I was ashamed to be rich, and I was, at that time, so the kids in this new environment began accusing me of hiding the fact I was rich by wearing substandard clothing. They could not understand why I was embarrassed, but used it to constantly remind me of the fact that I was different. I got used to hiding my richness, and the way we lived, but didn't have to do it anymore now that we lived in Caroltown.

Most of them sat in the back whispering loudly. The teacher just took roll as if nothing was amiss. It was mostly football players, cheerleaders and some guys on the baseball and swim teams. But that was enough to keep me busy fending off their bullying advances.

"Hey, where do you keep the birds in your nest?" asked one football player.

A cheerleader named Jill answered for him, "She hatched them already, and they're hiding in her ugly nest!"

The teacher vaguely looked up. "Okay," he said lamely. "That's enough kids, time out,"

This time I could not roll up into a ball on the floor and cry into my hands as I did when we'd lived in New York City, and my parents sent us to a tough junior high school on 75th and 3rd where they'd bused in kids from poor families in Harlem and the Spanish Barrio.

These were 'real' rich kids, my real peers, not the rabble poor black or Spanish jealous bully in the Barrio New York City. Technically, I should be accepted here, but I was not, right from the start. It might have started when my mother made fun of the "Welcome Wagon" lady, and then tried to get semi popular kids to come to our house and meet me.

One of them, a kid named Landis Charles, who came up to me years later and laughed in my face about it, "Oh my God, I remember how your crazy mother called my mother and wanted to set you and I up to meet!" He had refused and it was cancelled. I had wondered all these years. He wasn't that mean like the others, in fact, he was good looking, and a bit of a nerd, but popular all the same for being on the baseball team.

One thing, one small respite, I got to ride horses at this stable near the school I attended in Caroltown. Sometimes after class, I'd walk over to the stable for lessons by this lady and her lover at the stable Pete. It was so fun, and took a lot of the sting out of the unfriendly peers and social tidings I was experiencing in this new town, which included hand jobs for the boys next door and all.

Riding at the stable gave me such a good feeling, and all the sadness of not being accepted melted away. I met other girls, younger ones that went to other schools in the area and didn't know who I was, or how I was thought of at my school and in the town.

I always got the same horse, Prince. He was a strong, compact and feisty pinto with one blue eye, one brown eye. He was hyper, and I used to gallop him as fast as he would go back toward the barn where there was a small horse track to train a few new fast young colts that had come fresh from the racetrack in Mass!

We'd also jump 3 foot high wooden bars and could do it with or without a saddle. There was not much supervision at the barn, especially if Linda and Pete were out feeding the vast herds of bordered horses and cattle they had there. It was a big spread and was one of the first things you saw when you went down the main drag before you hit the junior high and high school of the town.

I remember when we were riding to a fair across the road and just at that time, the football team rowdies from my home room and a few others in cars, passed us. They saw me and started honking and Prince seemed to want to bolt. He did, and started to cantor fast down the road in the opposite direction. The jocks in the car saw me rein in the rowdy horse and take full control, I felt cool.

They drove away without another word as Pete took down their license. "My God, you could have been killed, OK, everyone off the horses, walk them from now on to the fair and back, no riding, and I mean it!" He said. He took my head in his hands and checked me out. "I'm fine, Pete!" I felt like an Indian who was spotted by the cavalry. When my horse took off down the road, my heart beat wildly and I knew I would not fall off. For a fraction of a second the bullies in the car were in awe, I saw it in their eyes as they raced passed me in the convertible.

We reached the fair safely, but because of the incident we were no longer allowed to ride the horses on the tar road again. As I led Prince in a large roped off area of the fair, I thought about how the past year had progressed. I wanted a boyfriend. I prayed for one, asked God to grant me a boyfriend, any boy, even younger, or maybe older. A boy that doesn't know my track record at the school. Well, it was going to happen soon, and I was totally ready.

It was coming up to our second year living in this town. The first year had been tumultuous at best. There'd been a few bright spots. I met a 7th grader Nate Fins, yup, that was his name Nate Fins. I was in 9th grade he was in 7th. I met him in the hallway, or during lunch. We started talking. He was very shy. Somehow we met, maybe one day when they opened the gym and removed the moving walls and I started talking to him, got his phone number that he wrote on my boat shoe sneaker. And I called him. I was not at first into him, but had just bought toy plane and thought I'd bring that to his house.

We started chatting. He mentioned he had a motorcycle, a real one! I was all of a sudden very interested. I wanted to learn how to ride one, how to pop the front wheel and ride the bike straight up. I yearned to know what made it work, etc. I was hooked.

"I'll get my mom to bring me by!" She took me over to his house in West Caroltown and I spent the day with him. We had lunch, rode the motorcycle, a beautiful Honda 125. He began to teach me how to drive it. I learned about gear shifting, etc. He taught me well. I could ride the bike on my own and years later it would swing in my favor when my family would move to the other side of the town, more downsizing. I would buy a motorcycle of my own one day. But for now, my father was doing very well; we never felt a pinch in the beginning. It was happening but my parents hid it so well.

Nate even came to see me ride, and afterwards they put him on Old Caesar, this buckskin gelding. Nate Fins was smiling from ear to ear and holding the reins so far apart like he was flying a kite. "This is cool!"

"I like the motorcycle better," I said, coming beside him on Prince!

"You a good rider on the horse and on my motorcycle, maybe one day we can both have cycles and ride more," he predicted.

I loved riding that motorcycle and dreamed of owning my own. My boyfriend was kind to me, didn't care I was un-popular, because he was unpopular. Our song was "Love is A Drug!" And my housekeeper’s sister who did our laundry and her hubby Arthur loved us together. One day I brought him downstairs to meet the couple that did our families laundry. She was the sister to the woman who raised me, who taught me about God and life and Jesus.

Nate Fins was a great guy. We started attending the school dances, something I dreamed about while I was listening to the radio and the song "At Seventeen I learned the Truth" came on and I'd pretend I was singing the sad song about a loser in high school with acne, but now I was with the cool kids even if Nate was a 7th grader and I was in 9th. We went to all the dances. The fall dance, Sadie Hawkins, May dance, and we'd make out like crazy in the corner as the bullies watched us from cross the dance floor.

When "Stairway to Heaven" came on we danced slowly and ignored the jibs and jabs of the jocks and popular ones. One football player ran up to us, as we made out against the wall around where they'd folded up the bleachers. "Look at them, woo wooo woo," he screamed and danced around us like a wild Indian. We just kept making out like he wasn't there. Finally Brian walked away laughing. As I made out with Nate.

I spotted the most popular girl across the room drunk on Cold Duck and using the cork as a puppet as her cute football player boyfriend hugged her around her thin waist. I felt cool being in the same room with them. As the song by the Bay City Rollers came on, the whole room was singing and dancing, including Nate and I.

As for Doug and Kent, I told them NO MORE HAND JOBS! I have a boyfriend now. So they began to treat me more like a friend than someone to tease and hit and use for a quicky in the darkroom. In fact, when I brought Nate over to the house, we made a beeline for the darkroom and made out for 2 hours while the boys and my sister kept banging on the door and laughing. I think they were a little envious. It was the first time I had a boyfriend and that garnered a little more respect. Nate was a shy, quiet and soft spoken kid, so Damien and Kent had no reason to bother with us in a bad way.

After 3 months together, things came to a head with Nate and me. We were making out one day up in our garage. I wanted to do more. I told him so. He was too quiet. I was getting bored, I guess. I remember saying to him, "Nate, I want to do more, like this," I said grabbing his privates through his jeans. He did not respond, but remained quiet. Then we heard my dad coming in with his car. As he got out of the car, he heard us, and made us come down. After that, I saw how Nate didn't say anything in our defense; he just stood there like a lump.

Thinking back now to then, I realized that because of the hand jobs, I was a bit more aware sexually than Nate could be. And sometimes I would forget he was only in 7th grade!

The next evening I called him, after ignoring him and not coming to his locker, nor being near my own when he came by. I told him in not so many words, that I wanted to have time. My sister told me to say what Marsha Brady said to her date on The TV show Brady Bunch, "...Something suddenly came up!" Well, he got the idea and we broke up after that. I felt sad, but the guilt was going away. I don't know exactly why I broke up with him. I started to feel this guilt feeling after our make out session at dances and at my house or his bedroom.

HEZ, GIRL FROM BEIRUT

That very next day they had a huge pep rally in the courtyard of the school. I sat by myself. Then a girl in my grade sat next to me. She was not attractive, but she looked smart. She was Armenian and from Beirut Lebanon. Her family moved to this town to escape the tierney and bloodshed against Christians there, so they moved.

They lived by the beautiful bridge named for the town itself, and lived very well, upper middle class. Her name was Hez. She was a daring, smart, witty, but quiet kid. We did have fun and spent that Halloween together. I slept over her house. Her family was close knit and their mom had made Armenian food, and little meat pies.

We went out and were bullied a bit by some who recognized me. But it did not bother Hez. She was used to it and just told me horror stories of the bullying in her own country. "It makes what they do to you here seem like child's play in my country," she said truthfully, after telling me a story about some soldiers playing football with a Palestinians head.

I had her sleep over one weekend and was looking for the neighborhood boys who usually came around about now. My sister saw me looking out the door.

"What are you looking for?" She asked.

"Doug and Kent," I said.

"They're not coming!"

"Why," I asked.

"Because of her," she whispered. "She ugly, they are not coming, they got the word!"

"They suck, that's mean of them. They say I'm ugly."

"But you don't look like her," she pointed over to Hez who sat listening to a song on the stereo with the ear phones on. She could not hear us. But she was eagerly awaiting the boy’s arrival.

I told her what went on and she was ready to try it out and go in the darkroom with one of them herself. She had given, so she said, a hand job to one of her old boyfriends in her home country, a boy she'd met at her school in Lebanon, so she knew what it was and how it worked. But the boys did not show up here, and I made excuses. Instead we went up to my room and watched TV, and played Monopoly. We also talked about sex and boys.

I started inviting her over to our home and she came willingly. I introduced her to my family and they thought she was quite intelligent when they asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. "A doctor," she said simply. And she did become that! She let me copy off her tests in Algebra, but also tutored me on the basics which raised my grade in that class. Others copied off me who were bullying me the year before.

Hez and I hung around together for that first semester until the following spring when she was transferred to the smart class upstairs and we drifted. I never saw her much. But I was becoming quite a star of my own in typing and art class. I'd become pals with the beatnik of the school Clive Trott who swore he'd go off Niagara Falls in a barrel one day (and he did...twice).

We sat at the same art table and argued about music, he loved Frank Zappa, I loved Donna Summer (at that time). He was sort of a star himself, making wonderful statues that the art teacher placed in the front glass cabinet in the front of the school.

Then she heard me talking to people about what they really were! Upon closer inspection that they were "bongs" not statues, so they were unceremoniously taken out and given back. I thought it was a total joke, because I'd had some action with Marijuana when an old friend from NYC came to visit in spring of 76 and had brought a few joints.

PART III A PRIVATE NOVEL - CONTINUING STORY OF A FAMILY IN CAROLTOWN

We found out our 2nd year at the home that we were not returning to our perspective summer camps because of my father's lack of funds. He'd taken another beating in the stock market and had not quite recovered from the one in 73. That year he'd also gotten a sciatica problem, so may have gotten addicted to Dilaudid, a pain killer in the form of Heroine. He also took pills to sleep. Now that we lived near his factory, he wasn't flying out from airports, less on the move, and simply drove his Yellow Grand Prix to the mill he owned.

In mid-February of 1977, I'd become very close with Jolee Drew, a beautiful kid that resembled Farrah Fawcett. Her family were Jehovah Witnesses. She'd moved into town mid-year, so wasn't aware of my unpopularity when I asked her on the bus for a #2 pencil. It had her name on it in silver letters.

When I met Jolee, my mother had already been interviewed by the town paper about a concert she was giving for poor kids to go to college and she'd called our town "...a bunch of Stepford Wives (if you remember the movie)," which caused a furor among the town. It didn't start off well after she made snide comment after comment about the town. It was so brash and unnecessary.

After a few days, when the article came out, we were subjected to a barrage of incidents. Things like rocks thrown through our windows at 2 in the morning, and kids from my class coming up from the beach and throwing fishing weights at my bedroom window, which would send me running out the of the room and into the safe arms of my failing father.

But after things began to die down, I had met this girl Jolee. She was so pretty, dazzling and had a bubbly fun loving personality. When she came on the scene the boys we'd been hanging around with were like little puppy dogs. All the hand jobs I gave to the neighborhood boys ceased. But Jolee, as a gag, did go in the darkroom with Douglas, but she'd only allow him to hold her hand and talk, and I believed her when she told me later on that night.

My stock had gone up considerably among the neighborhood kids with the appearance of Jolee Drew and I basked in it as she dragged me to all the school functions and even double dated with guys from her church and showed up at the games together. Other kids were looking on curiously, their eyes turning Chinese-looking as they pondered why a gorgeous, outgoing girl like Jolee, who was fast making friends with people, would want to hang out with the likes of me.

Since Jolee was a Jehovah Witness, she told me "...it is my duty to stay friends with you," even when she started to be asked the questions and if she knew about this or that, mainly what my mother had said. She shrugged them all off, all of them, and said, "I love her, she is very creative and very fun loving, I don't understand why you all hate her!" Jolee, what a trooper she was.

But she would come to find out why things were the way they were after the glorious summer I had with her sleeping over my house, spending the weekend at hers. I would joke around with her and say her house looked like the "halfway house" on Starsky & Hutch. She giggled and asked, "Why do you think my house is like the halfway house on that show?" I was laying on her bed and looked around. "I don't know Jolee, maybe it's because it looks like the one they were staking out."

And she would laugh again and with mischievous eyes she'd lead me down to the kitchen and we'd sneak my favorite snack ... Cool Whip and then watch TV. We'd lie in her bedroom talking late into the night about all subjects and things. She was very wise, very pretty and had a potential to become one of the most popular gals in my class at that time, and eventually she did.

After the summer passed, Dad's business was failing, and clients were running from him, withdrawing their accounts and canceling lace orders left and right. I could see he was despondent and unhappy. He was reclusing ever so slowly.

The others didn't see it, or did not want to see it,but I did. In September of 1977 we moved from the sprawling house on the bay to a dinky ugly looking grey house on the other side of town. We had downsized very much so, but did keep our one faithful housekeeper, who was ever so loyal.

I'd also met the family across the street from us, The Dawson's, another Jehovah Witness family that had recently come straight from North Dakota. They had 4 boys ages 3 to 11 and let me babysit them quite frequently. These children were not allowed to watch much television, and their activities revolved around their church. They were all hardy boys. And I loved watching over them, and getting paid for it.

Mike was the oldest and we'd have wonderful conversations and he'd tease me about being a bit weird. Then 8 year old Jason would let me lie in his bed as he told me stories of his school life. Little 3 year old Ryan would smile at me as I changed him and bathed him and made him laugh when I'd climb into his little crib and say, "Okay, I'm going to bed, good night!" I'd close my eyes and the boys roared with laughter.

Then after about 2 months they adopted another boy named Carl who was "challenged" but still smart. He would always ask if I liked "green Tamales" and we'd discuss serious issues of bullying at his school and God. He was very insightful, but prone to anger. He did not get along with the other boys.

So I went from giving hand jobs to the neighborhood boys near our old house on the bay, to babysitting 4 little boys and playing games. I would tape various TV shows for them like The Dukes of Hazard and Battle Star Galactica, shows that came on Sunday night, when they were not really allowed to watch television or were in bed. Then we'd make up our own shows. And of course I was best friends with the ever rising popularity of Jolee Drew.

Little by little the Dawson's increased my babysitting fee, until I was making about 3 dollars an hour. Their parents would leave at 4pm and didn't return until way after midnight. I started to build up a nice little nest egg. When we'd moved to the other side of town, and were packing up our stuff, one of the movers had stolen my allowance money I'd been saving in a little wooden shoe from Holland. I'd carried on about it, but now I was saving up again.

As time went on, and we quickly grew accustom to the new house on Elm Drive on the West side of town, a working class area. It wasn't so bad, and mom had decorated the home very nicely. The musty smell in my bedroom went away as soon as I cleaned up and lit my incense that my father had finally allowed me to do under the circumstances. My sister had her own room, and my brothers slept downstairs in a converted basement. Mom and dad had a master bedroom 2 times smaller than the one on at the house on the bay.

They had to share a bathroom now, not have separate dressing areas. And 6 months before we moved, mom had a hemorrhage in a restaurant, so was hospitalized, and although insurance paid for it, she insisted on a private room and nurses around the clock. That's just what she was accustom to. That may have made my father a bit resentful. And more money had to be laid out for the deductible and after care. She'd had the hemorrhage in my father's favorite Italian restaurant he'd taken us all to. It was like out of a horror movie as my brother noticed that my mother was bleeding between her legs.

She jumped up and fell down as blood poured out of her.. The waiter quickly took a white sheet and covered her and we were whisked out into the kitchen area as a rescue squad was called and the full restaurant was emptied of patrons. My mother was rushed to the hospital where she had emergency surgery and full hysterectomy.

As my mom recovered, my dad made us all dress in white (my mother's favorite shade) and visit her. I whined the whole way there, not because I had to wear white, but the only white pants I had were an old pair and they were tight and didn't go passed my ankles ... high waters with those white ugly boat sneakers I had shed way back when my best friend in New York took me to buy better, more styled clothing. After that, mom's moods were changing and it may have affected my father. Plus his company was failing and he was getting more and more depressed.

One winter day he sat us all down in the living room and gave a goodbye speech. "Kids, I'm going to be dying in the next 6 months, so I want you all to stick together," he said solemnly.

"What's wrong with you Dad?" asked my brother.

"I'm not well, I feel a band of pain around my head," said Dad, demonstrating it with his hands.

My sister and I began to cry. "No Dad, don't die! Please!" I pleaded.

At that moment my mother came in and started cursing and yelling at my father, and they went screaming into their bedroom with the door shut and locked. My siblings and I were in shock and sat in the living room listening to the song "Yesterday" by the Beatles playing on the little radio in the kitchen. We were very sullen and could not believe it. I could hear little threads of their fighting and my mom crying for a "divorce". She finally came out of the room and tried to put us at ease.

"He doesn't mean it kids, don't worry, and go watch TV. And don't worry about it, he'll be just fine," she lied. Her face was flushed and a fine sheen of sweat was glistening on her upper lip like President Nixon when he duped the country in 1974.

So we went on, putting what Dad had said to the back of our minds. I wrote it in my diary and continued with my life. But I began to thrive in the new neighborhood. Jolee still came over and we still hung around.

Times spent at her home bring many great memories to my mind. We would laugh and talk, take rides on her brother's motorcycle, which fueled my wish to get my own one day. She was kind and had a great big beautiful heart. She took me with her to church and introduced me to the guys there who didn't know of how great the bullying was for me at school nor how unpopular I was.

But the bullying and picking on me only intensified as winter drew to a close. Jolee and I decided we'd go sledding at a popular hang out by this frozen lake where practically my whole class (the popular ones) were sliding on anything that was flat. Some jocks stood at the top of the biggest hill and were daring each other to slide down on their butts. They spotted me with Jolee (we were not hard to spot) with our "church dates", but didn't say anything.

Jolee was with a very good looking, slim, dark haired young man and she'd fixed me up with another boy with curly bright red hair, red cheeks and anemic features. He was overweight and shy, but agreed to go with some pressure from my best friend, who was also thinking about cheer leading in the fall. We all got on a big sled and began our plunge to the bottom. It was exciting and I felt a small sliver of coolness that I actually had a date for this snow party. When we hit the bottom all 4 of us were laughing and carrying on. Subconsciously I stood next to Jolee's date and put my hand on his coat tail to pull myself up; thinking that maybe the kids watching us would think I was with him.

The next day in school people in my class were all abuzz over Jolee and I, what was happening and why Jolee was even around me after what my mother had said about the whole town. In fact, the vandalism didn't stop because we moved to a new neighborhood, in fact, it increased. One night around 11 pm I heard the loudest crash in the living room. We all ran in to find a huge boulder thrown through the living room window. Terrifying at the time.

A jock named Tom and his buddy Michael came up to me by my locker and were snickering and talked loudly in the hallway.

"Oh, did you see the Bird's Nest (me) on Sunday trying to make it like she was with the cute guy, not the ugly fat one," said Tom. "Yeah I did, but we knew that guy was with Jolee." Both boys laughed as they passed my locker someone had scrawled "Bird's Nest Rots" on it with a thick waterproof Sharpie! As they walked farther down the hallway they began clucking like birds.

As the winter drew to a close, I spent a few more sleep overs with Jolee, but at her own home, not ours. I was feeling something deep inside as we sat on her bed and she babbled on about meeting some guy on the wrestling team, the most popular boy in the 11th grade. I was writing in my journal and wrote a sentence in my code that read, "Jolee is talking about some guy she met, I'm jealous and bored!"

On the norm, after I wrote, I'd hand the pink journal I had been keeping for 2 years over to her and she would write a nice paragraph but this time she caught the code I'd written and had deciphered it.

"That's not very nice," she purred, her usually perfectly shaped lips bending into a frown, the first time I had ever seen that. "I just read your code! You should be more honest," she admonished. She wrote her paragraph looking very serious, and then handed the book back to me. It read: "Tonight is the 5th night you have slepted over and I don't like how you are acting. You should always be honest. If I was boring you, you should have said that. Don't be jealous, I'll always be your best friend always." She made a little smile face with a frown and question mark over its head, and signed it "Jo".

I should not have written it, but something deep inside my mind could sensed she and drifting apart. We were going in different directions. She was becoming very popular and more in demand and I'm sure there was a lot of pressure put on her by our peers. After she did met Sandy Bernardino, captain of the wrestling team, and a grade ahead of us, we drifted even farther apart.

Then to seal the last nail on our coffin, my popular sister wanted to sleep over with me at Jolee's house. And that meant one thing! That Jolee was becoming very well-known even in the younger classes. My sister had watched Jolee and I for months, and decided it was a good time to get in on it to see for herself what was going on.

"No, you didn't let me come with you when you slept over Dede's," I said.

"Dad?" She ran to my father and told him.

"There is no reason your sister can't go with you to Jolee's house, take her, no back talk, remember what I told you," said my father blandly, as if he could care less or not.

So I brought my sister along. We spent most of that night watching TV and made dinner. I started to feel very sad that Jolee and I were drifting and that my own sister who had her own friends was trying to take Jolee away from me, so I did not feel giddy as I had the first few times I stayed at Jolee's house. I felt detached from everything that night.

I asked Jolee if she felt that way and she laughed and said, "Like what Silly!"

It was the first time I'd felt the that vibe at Jolee's house and didn't like it. Meanwhile we moved down to Joshua's room in the cellar and I was flirting with him. But he seemed to not pay attention to me, but was showering it all on my sister. He knew my status at school, even if Jolee liked me, Josh was indifferent.

The doorbell rang and it was a kid named Stevie who had a crush on Jolee. She let him in and we all watched this very old movie on Mozart as Stevie actually lit up a joint and we all started smoking it. I felt very odd and self-conscious. I was sweating and getting more paranoid because the feeling was intensifying.

Jolee was talking with Stevie and ignoring me. My sister and Joshua were downstairs talking and laughing about things, and I felt isolated and thought the pot may have been laced with angel dust or something. I got very scared and went up to Jolee's room, shut the door and put on the TV in her room and lay on the bed trying to calm my racing heart. A 'Tom & Jerry" cartoon was playing out and I tried to concentrate on it and come back to normal!

I was really feeling the strong pot that we smoked just minutes earlier. About 20 minutes later Soon Jolee came upstairs.

"What's wrong with you tonight? You are acting so weird," she said, exasperated. She sat on her bed and stared at me. "Are you alright? What's wrong?" Her eyes searched my own. I think we both knew the answer, but were afraid to say it, and didn't want to hurt each other.

"I don't know, Jo. This weed is making me feel weird."

"Well maybe we shouldn't smoke it anymore. Anyway, Stevie wants to go for a ride with me, so I'll be right back. Your sister is with Josh, you should go downstairs and join them, I'll be back," she said smiling her usual. She hugged me tightly, almost like it was goodbye.

After that night we hung out in school for a while. I started questioning to myself why she wanted to hang around with me with all that had happened. That's when she told me she had tried out for the cheer leading squad and had gotten in.

"Wow, Jolee, that's fantastic, I'm happy for you," I lied.

She didn't answer.

And once she dating the captain of the wrestling team, I think we could have written our epitaph. Eventually she became the captain of her squad and the girl looked great jumping around and cheering on her man and his first place champion wrestling team. Her mother worked nights, so was never there when we were, and the household ran pretty free spirited on the weekends.

But once I was back at my own house, the pressure was on. They wanted my babysitting money!

One evening, about 2 weeks before we moved to the other side of town and my dad’s business was failing miserably, and we all sat in the kitchen eating cold cuts on Rye bread, my mother brought up the fact that we all had to help our dad.

“You know, your brothers gave up their inheritance from my parents,” hinted my mother. “And I think you should give your babysitting cash to your father to help out,” she dared to ask.

“What? No, I…., I mean… Ohhh,” I lamented as I sat at the diminished dining room table minus the silver candle sticks, lace tablecloth, fresh flowers and fine china, now replaced with cheap flatware and easily bendable utensils bought at 5 and dime in town.

“You heard me, give your savings book to your father and help him!” Her high soprano trained operatic voice shrilled in my little ears. “I gave up all my jewels too!”

“But Mom, that’s money I’ve been saving for 2 years now to buy a motorcycle!” I said weakly. Guilt was setting in, but I’d stand my ground and protect what was mine!

She slammed down her fork and swore at me.

“What’s 300 dollars going to do for Dad,” I asked, looking over at my father for some support. He didn't look at me and just hung his head extremely angry. His face turned bright red. He'd long stopped wearing his bronzing cream and hair piece and gone was the fake mustache too. Even at my 16th birthday party the year before he'd come to the table in his robe and slippers as Jolee (who seemed light years away by this time) and my family celebrated with a cake shaped like a horse!

My siblings remained quiet, but my older brother said, “Hey, if we had to give up our 10,000 bucks, you should give up your cash too! We did, why can’t you?”

“Don’t you love your father? Don’t you want to help him?” asked my mother incredulously.

“Yes, but maybe I can do other things around the house to help, like clean, and make him meals,” I threw in, clutching at straws.

“You’re selfish,” yelled my mother. She got up from the table and slammed down a few dishes at the sink. “I can’t believe you!”

“What?” I was on the verge of tears and saw that motorcycle of Cliff’s fading like a hologram out of batteries.

“Yeah,” added my older brother, “Give it up!”

“You should,” said second oldest brother. He was shaking his fat fingers in my face. He was overweight, as was my other brother.

I had no intentions of handing over my bank book to my father. I would not do it. Even if he punished me, I would not budge. We fought a bit over it at the table, but I won out when dad just got a sad look on his face and yelled, “Forget it, I don’t want your stinking money, keep it!”

There was silence for about a minute and we all began to relax and eat again.

We were all digesting the notion of not going back to camp, as well as my refusal to give up my money to my father.

After that, my dad had an announcement. “Kids, we won’t be sending you away to summer camp this year, Daddy can’t afford it!”

My brothers began crying. I’d rarely seen my older brother cry, maybe about 3 times my whole life. But there he sat bawling and turning red in the face, almost reddish purple. Oh, they so loved that camp they attended in the Northeast. My brother had said in private "Dad thinks he's going to work us like bulls this summer!" I went and told my father, snitched on my brother and dad came in yelling his head off at my bro. It only caused us all to cry harder.

I was sort of upset, but not devastated. I had Jolee back then and it turned out to be a good summer, even if my mother had trashed the town in that little article.

That drama ended with a town forum at our local high school and my mother up on the podium and dad and us sitting in the front row ALL DRESSED IN WHITE! How strange is that, just like when my mom got sick and dad made up all dress up in white. Just because it was her favorite color.

Then he did himself in about 6 months later, so it didn’t matter. The man had tried to take his life 3 previous times. The first time was at the end of 1973 when he’d lost half his fortune in the stock market and my mother had supposedly been sleeping with my older brother’s teacher for the remaining months we were at the elegant apartment in NYC.

His next attempt was when we first moved to the house on the other side of town. He’d taken sleeping pills. I could hear him breathing weird. Somehow he didn’t take enough, so he awoke and went to the bathroom where he collapsed. Our housekeeper’s husband Lev found him and they helped him through it.

The third time he’d tried it, was about 2 months later. I went to babysit for the Dawson's and heard sirens.

I joked with them, “Hey, wouldn’t that be weird if those sirens were going to my house?”

And they were! We were all crying as they wheeled my father out of the house and into an ambulance. They'd saved him again, but he would try it and succeed 1 month later when he sent us all out and we didn't return until late that evening to find him dead on the bed in his tuxedo, with good bye notes to us all. I remember one sentence: "...No circus, no tears, no trauma, no fears...I am at peace with myself!"

CHAPTER IV - GOOD BYE JOLEE HELLO JEANIE!

In a sidebar, during the middle of 11th grade I met a girl who sat behind me who thought I'd make a good couple with a friend of hers from the next town over. So she fixed me up with Gary Aruddo, who was a real laugh.

He was short, silver haired with twinkling blue eyes. Not a bad dresser either. He worked and had a car of his own. We met, liked each other and began going out. We did it all, going to the movies, going to the park, picnics, school functions; although he never danced with me, not even slow numbers, and no making out in public.

We even drove to Strawhill Drive next door to my old house where it seemed eons ago my sister and I were sneaking around the bushes with the neighbor boys. His car smelled like sour milk mixed with Old Spice. But he was fun, and I liked how he made fun of Hitler.

He would tell me about how he'd dress as the dictator and make jokes and got a few of his pals to dress up. He'd imitate Hitler and make me laugh so hard. We'd do a weird role-play where I was Eva Braun and he was Hitler yelling at me. When I think back, it was kind of funny and weird, but odd. He did not go to my school, nor knew my loser status, so at the time it was refreshing and free. We laughed and hooted and went to the drive in, made out in the back seat

But as had happened with Nate Fin, I'd wake up the next morning feeling guilty about not really liking him that much. He'd run his course quickly, but not before my dad committed suicide. In fact, the day before my father did that dirty deed, I was out with Gary. We'd been making out heavily. When he dropped me off we also kissed a long while.

I went into our house and directly to my parent's room, which was right across from my own. Dad was up watching t.v. and mom was sprawled out on the other side of their huge bed that barely fit in the room. They had to get rid of the head board and extras so it would fit. I think it was rather hard on them both.

As I said good night to my father for the last time, I almost kissed him on the lips (force of habit from being with Gary all night).

He said, "I love you kiddo."

"I love you dad."

The next day my dad sent all of us out to see the Mansions on the beach, dinner and a movie, saying that he'd have meetings all day, and not to come back until late.

We'd done as he told us. It was a weird day. I felt crabby and didn't even want to go. I thought about pretending to be sick and stay home, but I didn't think they'd fall for it. As the day progressed, I just felt uneasy.

My sister teased me and said "Oh, she just wants to get home before Saturday Night Live comes on!"

"No way, that's not true!" I was on the verge of tears because between my mother and sister, I was being bombarded. It wasn't easy when you had an intuition. And dad had tried to take his life 3 times already. But, at the time, we did as we were told.

When we finally got home, there was dad lying on the bed in his tuxedo, all brushed out like a turkey dinner. He didn't look dead, but he was. His fingernails were blue and he was not breathing.

"Mom, I don't think he's breathing," said my older brother.

"No, he's sleeping kids. Good night, all of you get ready for bed now!" She sat down a bit stunned and shocked. She had grabbed one of the 3 envelopes on the dresser and opened it and started to read it out loud. She read it like she read stories to us at bedtime.

By that time I already knew he was dead and ran out of the room crying. I ran to my own room and began tearing the posters off my wall, not wanting to believe the inevitable. I grabbed my children's Bible and began crying and praying uncontrollably until I felt heavy hands pull me up off the floor and onto my bed. It was the firemen responding to my brother's phone call.

"We may have to sedate her," said one strong looking fireman.

"No, I'll calm her down," said my brother, handing me a glass of cool water. The fireman left as my brother soothed my nerves by just silently sitting on my bed. I finally calmed down.

"Where is everyone?" I asked him.

"In the living room," he said quietly.

I drank the water and felt myself calming. That always was the trick when I was in a tantrum mode when I was little. My brother would come in with a glass of water and give it to me. I'd drink it it began to quiet me enough for me to stop crying.

"You coming in?" he asked me.

"Yeah, I'll be right there, go on..."

He left me there. Suddenly I went into my parents room and stood over my dead father's body. I noticed his lighter laying on the bed by his hand. I grabbed that and at the same time put my own hand on my dad's cold one. "Good bye Dad, I love you so much!" I cried and went into the living room.

As we all sat there, the fireman, the police, my family and the housekeeper, my mother's best friend's showed up, as well as the family doctor. They took over as the firemen loaded my father's body in a green bag and wheeled him away.

I will never forget the sounds of the firemen counting, "1, 2, 3..." and hauling my father's heavy body onto the gurney, and then the sound of the zipper on the body bag being closed. I could even hear the effort in the voices of the men helping to get dad's body out of the little bedroom.

That night we all got a tab of Valium and I slept with my sister. We held hands in the dark and cried and talked quietly. Then, as usual, and due to the Valium, she fell right asleep, and so did I.

After that things happened in the blur. People showed up at our house, lots of people. Then the Rabbi came to us and gave counsel. After that we went to the funeral a few days later. Even Jolee and her mom were there, and I'd not seen the girl for months. It was a bit awkward but I got through it all.

As we drove back to the house, one of my father's friend's wives burst out crying and screaming. "Stop the car, stop the car!" She jumped out and a bunch of people surrounded her consoling the woman. When she finally got back in, we all wanted to know what was going on.

She looked up at us teary eyed. "Years ago I had a baby and it died on this day!"

We all felt badly and some cried. I began crying as did my sister. I heard my brother say under his breath, "I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry!"

A few weeks later the lawyer secured the trust and we were flushed with cash. The first thing my mom did was move us back to our old neighborhood. It was to a house on Strawhill Drive! That was something! Then she left to go on a long vacation the following week.

And after my father's suicide, all the bullying stopped. No one picked on me, the vandalism stopped, the clicks on my bedroom window stopped and most ignored me as I passed them in the halls at school. But things were soon getting back to a normal pace for all of us. My mother went away by herself a few times and my sister began throwing huge parties. It was a wild, crazy mad house, but a lot of fun!

I was still seeing Gary. I called him 2 days after my father passed. "So let's go out, Gary."

"Are you sure, is it too soon?"

"No, of course not!"

We met and went to the pizza place. He said he was sorry about my dad. I could tell he felt uncomfortable about it. Others in the restaurant were staring at us, and he was very aware of that.

That's when I wanted to break if off with Gary. I stuck it out a bit l longer, at least until I met someone else. We were going to his senior prom at his High School and I'd already bought a dress. And I wanted to go, I wanted to be seen. He was not bad looking, and other kids at his school joked around with him. He even was nominated as "funniest" in the yearbook. And everyone kept saying what a cute couple we made even if he was short and my dad had killed himself.

I became sort of isolated from the Caroltown school stuff, but I did bring him to a basketball game to which we sat quietly to the back of the gym, high in the bleachers. He seemed uncomfortable being there, picking up on how kids were avoiding us. He was a friendly guy just as I was open when I met his friends at his school. But at my school, it was very negative. We left during halftime and went to the malt shop on the edge of Bristol and shared a coffee banana shake. We didn't talk, but I had a feeling that when the senior prom came in one month, it would be curtains for us. I was right.

My siblings and I would go to the games quite frequent even though my brothers and I were not popular, but my sister was. One evening I sat at the top of the bleachers and struck up a conversation with a nice underclassman that was at the game with her two friends Marilyn and Kathleen. Her name was Jeanie and that chance meeting sealed our friendship. We began to do stuff together. She had access to her father's car, something Jolee did not have. Jenny was daring and fun and we'd tease each other playfully.

I began spending nights at her house seamlessly, and just stopped seeing Jolee, except in school. I stopped going to the games and spent all my time with Jeanie and her friends who were a grade below me.

We'd go into big department stores and pretend we didn't know each other, then by chance bump into each other and start a loud conversation, causing a bit of a ruckus. "Oh my God, Jean?" I would yell from an aisle in the store. Jean would be on the far end of the aisle and she'd see me and scream, "HEEEELLLLLOOOO, It's you?!" We'd run into each other’s arms and hug and say, "How long has it been!" It was a riot and she was so different than Jolee, but pretty all the same.

Jeanie drove her dad's white Camaro and would pick me up every weekend. We started cruising around town and she took me to a lot of hang outs. When we walked into the local pizza joint that the football players hung out in, there was a rustle among them when they saw me, but we sat down and ignored the cat and bird calls from across the restaurant.

It was very loud in there, with music blasting out of the jukebox. Jeanie didn't seem to notice, she was always talking about some funny thing her dad had done or said. I liked her, even her dad's car smelled young and fresh, with the slight hint of McDonalds French fries mixed with an underlying smell of men's sweet smelling cologne. He worked somewhere across town. She had a younger sister they called "Inky" and her mom was a writer or something. Not sure.

Their grandparents lived right on our street by the Bay, in a huge mansion. It was on the other side of the Ted Leonard's spread, the same Ted Leonard that rented all his antique cars to all the big classic movies like "The Betsy", "The Great Gatsby" and other cool mini series' of that era. Jeanie and I sneaked into her grandparent’s mansion. It was quiet as a church in there.

"Want to see my uncle?" she asked innocently enough."

Sure, if it's okay," I said. "We don't want to disturb him." I thought he was an older man who read a lot in the library at the mansion.

We walked into the large very well stocked living room from a silver dainty booze tray to expensive china and tea sets, crystal and sturdy looking tables and chairs of Mahogany; chairs. Beautiful brown panel shelves held little treasure from around the World, and every part of the place was taken up with little expensive knickknacks.

She walked up to a row of sliding glass window ledges and reached way to the back of one of them. She deftly pulled out a small sky blue 'urn' and placed it in my hands. "Meet my uncle!"

"Hi Uncle!" I yelled louder than I should have. I mean, he was right there in front of us!

"Say Uncle," she said laughing like the silly school girl she was making me feel like.

"Wow, how did he die?" I asked her.

"He committed suicide," she said easily. "Blew his head off in the late Sixties right on the beach out there. I'll show you later!" We looked at the urn and she opened it and stuck her little pinkie in it and blew some of the dust around the living room.

"Oh Jeanie, that really umm, kinda' gross," I said. But I was laughing. So was she. Just as fast she replaced it back on in the glass enclosure in the same exact spot.

"He flipped out on L.S.D. and then started doing it every day. My dad said it burned out his brain and messed him up really bad.

"I didn't mean it was gross," I said of the sprinkling of her uncles dust. I remembered hearing about Irish wakes and how they removed the deceased body and propped it up on a couch and stuck a pipe in its mouth!

"Don't worry, my grandmother does it sometimes. She says it makes her feel really close to him still!"

"Wow, that's really eerie," I said.

"Wanna' see his room, they left it the same way as the day he died," said Jeanie, as if this was part of the day for her, to give me a tour of the creepy mansion.

"Okay," I said. I was becoming morbidly fascinated, probably due to my own dad's suicide.

She led me upstairs on a creaky staircase that wound around to the top floor and beyond. We walked all the way down to the end of the hallway and she had a key. She deftly opened up a locked door and we walked into her uncle’s room.

The bed was unmade, the closet was open, there were clothes in the closet, even a book on the dresser called "The I Ching Book Of Changes". It was open to one of the hexagrams in the book. I was in awe. There was an open bottle of Old Spice cologne and a tie on the bed. The bed itself was dusty and rumpled, his used brush and comb were never moved. Dust surrounded everything, a light thin dust of white substance almost like what was in that urn downstairs coated the shelves and tables in the room.

I was a bit spooked, but it was fun to share this with my new best friend Jeanie.

JEANIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR AND I PAINT THE TOWN RED!

Jeanie was so much more daring than Jolee and Hez were. We started by making crank phone calls at my house. We even called Hez up, who by now was a distant memory after all I'd been through with Jolee, Gary, my father's demise and now Jeanie. I was also still working for the Dawson's too. The boys seem to be sprouting up like beans.

Jeanie also had access to pot and would get bags of it at a time, stealing the money out of her mom's purse. I watched her do it. But she did have one thing I loved. She loved to cook these huge meals, and very well indeed.

Breakfast, dinner or snacks, cakes, buns, bread and even candy ... she made it from scratch. But what I did not know in all our fun that year, was that she had a mental disorder no one knew about yet. She was light years away it seemed from Karen Carpenter, who died of it in 1982. Jeanie had it and it was 1978, December ... Anorexia Nervosa!

I didn't really notice anything at first. It took a few months. We got through 11th, and when I hit mid-12th grade that's when I noticed Jeanie's problem. Summer was coming up and we'd planned to shop for bathing suits. I looked at her bedroom wall and all that was up were posters of dieting charts and skinny girls. And for the first time, Jeanie's dad Richard would come in the room and ask her how her work on the track team was going and if she was going to try and have a bite at dinner! Jeanie's mom never left their bedroom, I rarely saw her, and I think she drank.

Jeanie would scream and shout at her dad and slam the door in his face. He'd tease her and knock and say things like "Pork Girl, Funny daughter, bacon bits!" He meant well, he wanted his funny Jeanie back and she was not even fat. At least I did not see any fat on her. For the time being I ignored it and just submitted to the new attentions by her with the big meals, the makeup sessions and the car trips to the mall for clothes and food. Movies and hanging around, stuff I never did.

But one day I walked in on Jeanie when she was dressing and noticed how skinny she truly was. There was a fine sheen of peach fuzz all over her body except her buttocks area. She wore thick sweaters that hid her condition and when she did eat, the girl would have a mound of napkins beside her and could deftly pretend to eat, not letting the food touch her lips, chew, and then spit the food into the napkins. She got quite good at it. I cared about her, but could not stop her antics, which were getting worse by the time midterms came along.

Another time I was sitting on Jeanie's bed when I caught the strange pungent odor of vomit. I sniffed around and finally stuck my head under her bed. There were little black trash bags filled with her own vomit, and that's when I realized the full scope of her illness.

And Jeanie never wanted my sister with us ever! She refused to hang much with my sister and sort of ignored her most of the time. It gave me a weird satisfaction. Then something really neat happened. I fixed Jeanie up with Doug. They made a great couple and began dating heavily, even having sex in my bedroom. It seemed that they totally got along, and of course that changed how the boys treated me.

By this time, my older brother was thinking of college, and had barely graduated if not for the summer classes he took instead of him going to his blessed summer camp! Those brothers of mine love that camp to this day. I too would miss my camp, but not as much as my sister did or my brothers. I was always bullied at the 2 camps my parents had sent us to, one in Maine, one in Vermont, both snotty Jewish girl's camps that I would cry when I left there, but would soon be glad to be home from. At least I had Jeanie now and she would make sure we had a fantastic summer. And we surely did, even with her Anorexia.

I adjusted to not going to summer camp and was looking forward to hanging out with my new friend. Jolee was out, and with her new crowd of cheerleaders as their captain. I was not that upset, but my father was. He never got to know Jeanie very well. I was not friends with Jeanie until Dad had become so reclusive and had already tried to take his own life 3 times before Jeanie came on the scene. It was a after the big blizzard of that year, 1978, February.

I spent almost every weekend over Jeanie's house, a little cottage she shared with her parents and sister. They even had a cat named Detes, a brown independent tabby with a nice face. Jeanie's sister Susan was just passable. She never talked to us, I barely saw her either, just like Jeanie's mom. But once in a blue moon I did see little blond "Inky", or Jeanie's Sixties looking mother. Think of the movie "Billy Jack" and then think of his girlfriend and you had Jeanie's mom. Jeanie's dad hung out with us teasing and making fun of both of us.

He was like the Mr. Mom type. He worked somewhere, not sure what he did, but he got home late at night, and Jeanie's mom would hole up in her bedroom while he was gone. Her sister would not pay any attention to us, and usually went to a friend's house for the weekend.

Jeanie's house was a mess. It was dirty and unkempt. But I felt more friendship with Jeanie and it didn't feel like a halfway house as with Jolee's house. It was still cozy and warm, but it was not put together as organized like at our house either. And Jeanie's parents were around more than Jolee's mom was. I missed Jolee at times, but adjusted nicely with my new friend. Jeanie kept me entertained. She made me up and dressed me up, and we went to the disco in the City.

We met guys, danced, learned the disco lingo and did the disco life. Soon people noticed us and we became popular at that disco, especially Jeanie. Jeanie was dusky pretty. She was petite, with a moon face, her skin well made up, her demeanor sexy and confident, although she was not confident. She pretended very well. Men fell for her game. And she told me how to act so we would not end up in some Holiday Inn messing around with businessmen. She just wanted them to buy drinks and dance with us. So that's how we played it.

We'd drive into that little disco in her dad's white convertible Camaro, cool! And she knew of my un-popularity and didn't give a damn about it, and told me so. She liked me genuinely, and wholly. She was a good friend, although as we progressed, her "Anorexia" would rear its ugly head. Already her father had found the plastic bags of vomit under Jeanie's bed. I too smelled an odd odor, but never guessed Jeanie was doing such a thing. But she was, and continued to, right up until my graduation.

Even Doug mentioned to Jeanie how her breath smelled like vomit sometimes and she'd play it all off. Since he was having sex with her, he let it slide. They got very close, closer than even to my sister, whom he'd had a crush on for years. Now he had Jeanie and she actually made him more mature and nicer. I'm sure he was grateful to me for introducing them.

About 9 months later I was introduced to a guy my brother bunked with at the college in town. His name was Raul Volusia and he looked like Jimi Hendrix, and my mother didn't think much of him and I until he showed up one day in his Delta 88 to pick me up to go to the beach and then to the disco later with Jeanie. Mother was extremely worried and upset and told me so.

"What's the big deal Mom?" I asked her.

"What's the big deal, what's the big deal," she said, usually repeating herself when she was really stressed or pissed. "I don't want you seeing that black man anymore!"

"Why, he's very nice and treats me like a lady! He takes me out, we eat, we go to the movies, and he doesn't come at me or want sex!" I said honestly, although of late Raul had hinted that he wanted to make love to me.

"I don't care! It's not right, especially in this town, haven't we been through enough?" She asked, pleading with me. Jeanie was there too, trying to calm my mother down. We were at the 2nd home on the other side of town still. My father had taken his own life about 4 months earlier. Now I was with Jeanie and we were getting ready to move back to our old stomping grounds by the bay, to a house next door to the old mansion by the bay we lived at. I didn't want to go. It would mean being farther away from everyone I had made pals with, including my babysitting job.

Whenever my mother brought it up, I would run away and cry in the bushes across the street in the empty lot. She'd scream out the door, "We're moving soon, so get ready!"

Jeanie would soothe me and say, "Listen, it's okay, I'll come and pick you up! I'm going to get my own car, and Dad said I could maybe buy this car from him if I find a job," she said. She was so sweet and so daring. I loved hanging with her. She'd do just about anything. I had told her all about the hand jobs I gave the neighborhood boys also about how the whole school had found out about it, and how my boyfriend at the time John Fennway broke up with me over it.

The whole school had found out that I gave hand jobs and skinny dipped with Douglas and his pals. They were still living there. We'd only moved for one year, and then Dad took his life, and mom was waiting for the life insurance to come through.

BACK TO THE ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD FELLAS’

After my father took his own life, it didn't take long for my own life to start get back to a bit of normalcy. The first thing I did was to take all my babysitting money (before my mother decided to pull a fast one on me, as she tried to do 5 months prior) out of the bank and go buy my first motorcycle.

The kid that sold it to me was Cliff Jay, who lived a few blocks away from me. It was either going to be Donnie Stricks Go Cart, or the XR 75 Honda, both were the same price, 300 bucks. I choose the cycle. And it was a beauty.

Cliff came over to our house, we were still living in the same abode my dad killed himself in so it was a bit creepy for some kids now to come and hang out. Most of them now hung out outside by the garage.

This kid Cliff was a tough bird. He was medium height, long black hair, freckles and could even have been a bully to me if not for the fact that we did have a lot in common, that being dirt bike riding. He’d heard about me around school and was really a pal of my sister's. He even dated her for a few weeks, but they broke up and just became friends. He was not a handsome man, and he was adopted and troubled, as far as I could see when we went over to his nice big white American Colonial house and hung out doing bong hits and smoking weed and drinking beer in his cellar.

His parents were not around much. His dad worked as an executive for a large radio station so there were fringe benefits to that. Also, Cliff Jay had street smarts and didn’t pick on me like the other boys in the neighborhood.

At that time, Doug and Kent seemed like faint dreams little girls have. It’s like they never existed. Even if it had gotten all over school about how I gave them hand jobs, and we all took showers and skinny dipped in the bay. It got around while I was dating a new boy in school. Somehow my sister's boyfriend Bobby found out about it. After that, he spread it all over school after breaking up with my sister. Soon, the new boy had broken up with me too. But that was 2 years ago now!

So I bought Cliff’s great Honda and drove it right out of his garage, down his street, onto the main street and gunned it on home. At first it sputtered and shook, due to the fact that Cliff had been sent away for a while to some sort of youth detention center in Arizona the last Winter. That was before the crappy Thanksgiving we had when Cliff had lent me his down feather vest parka and my father made me trudge back to his house to return it.

But now I was riding free and wild through the streets in my neighborhood. Sad thoughts of my dad’s death had been fading faster than I had expected. In fact, secretly, I was in a way, relieved that he was gone. He was becoming so mean and uninterested in what I was doing, that I became a bit detached, and with good reason. In my father’s mind, he wanted to start to draw away from his children, so that when he passed away, we would not grieve as much because we’d recall the shoddy treatment he gave us.

PREQUEL TO THE ITALIAN TOWN OF CAROLTOWN, THE YOUNG YEARS OF SIBLING FRIENDSHIPS AND MORE! LIVING AT THE UN PLAZA AMONG THE RICH!

I’m sure now that my father told my two older brothers about how babies were made, but when they decided to tell us, my parents bought a book called “How Babies Are Made” and it simply put the whole process with photos and cute writing, read out loud by my mom. It was a “no holds barred” way to tell us the right educational way and they, my parents, thought sis and I were ready.

When mom sat us down and read the part about the actual sperm/egg transfer and how it was done, sis and I laughed at the photo of the man and woman smiling and laying on top of each other with the blanket pulled up to their normal looking faces. From then on we knew and would joke all the time about it until my father took us aside and explained, then stressed with a light poke, not to joke about such a thing. It was natural as masturbation, just not in public, it’s a private thing. “Your mother read you the book, right?”

“Yes Daddy,” we answered together, my sister and I, trying hard not to look at each other lest we’d break out laughing.

From the very start, when I was old enough, my second oldest brother and I were sent to school. I was in Kindergarten at that time, and right away I was isolated and sort of kept away from other children. I talked to myself during quiet times, which disrupted, but I remember knowing I was just making up stuff in my head and I was aware of what I was doing, an attention getter mostly. When you are at home, it’s hard to compete with your own mother for attention. It boiled down to that, a curse in itself.

I talked loud, was out of control, and always wanted to play with the blocks, and the teachers would try to sway me over to the little fake kitchen, or the crayons, just to get me out of the center of the room, where the blocks were set up. In the end they rearranged the whole classroom because of me, just to get me over to the corner where I wouldn’t be a distraction. But I realized I was a distraction and knew what

I was doing. I knew they thought I was mentally unstable, or socially retarded, but I just found it easier, at least until my mental capacity grew in my brain, to play along and pretend I was mentally out of control, which I probably was. And it wasn’t like some of the other children in the class, mostly foreigners, but a few white girls with blond hair and pigtails would have a seizure or some sort of screaming fit. I remember seeing this one girl named Ramona sitting way to the back of the classroom bobbing up and down and pulling her hair.

And then there was this boy from Romania that knew hardly a word if English. Years later I would bring it to his attention when were in the same class in 7th grade but he complained to the teacher that I was bothering him and to move me, so I was isolated yet again because a boy who once was isolated like myself, in kindergarten was now complaining that I was getting in his face. Eventually he was moved to the smarter class upstairs.

I was an extremely sensitive child and immediately thought bad things like seizures or bobbing would happen to me. As they held this pretty little pixy blond girl down on a piano bench, she twisted and turned and shook, and I thought it would happen to me. I could feel it. Of course, it didn’t, but I always carried that fear inside me and would pause and pretend I was going to have a seizure like the girl at school.

I would spook myself then run into my parent’s room only to be told to be “…a big girl and go back to bed!” Dad would get up and walk me back sometimes, and assure me, but I felt a curse lingering everywhere. I saw phantoms and symbols of it everywhere I went and everything that I did. I pretended to be afraid of the dark, but in reality I was afraid of the curse. I knew it was there at an early age.

That is why I was isolated so quickly although I was never diagnosed with any mental disorder. Yes, I was hyper and prone to tantrums, and yes, I did talk out loud to myself, but again, I was aware of it, and knew what I was doing…

But it was that coming summer that a lot of the curse would be put to the test. My parents sent my 2 brothers and myself to a day camp on the coast between Cape Cod and Connecticut. It was right on the ocean and called Rocky Hill. We’d be picked up by a yellow school bus and driven to this camp. While being driven we were teased relentlessly by the other children, mostly kids from our own neighborhood, even a boy named Shane who shot my brother and I while we played on the lawn of our own house, he lived across the street and had a pellet gun.

He shot at us several times and hit my brother in the chin. In fact, before we’d be carted off to day camp, my housekeeper took us to the park to play after school let out. A boy and his brother, who lived a few houses down, this boy Mike, rode his black bike right into me and his handlebar struck me on the right upper part of my face, leaving a red mark that was seen for years. He meant to hit me. I saw his eyes as he got closer and closer to me and I just stood there staring, not believing he’d really hit me, but he did, with his handlebars, than acted like it was a total accident.

What was so different about my family than others there in the neighborhood? Why did they all tease me and my brothers? Why, I kept asking myself as we walked along the beach in single file at Rocky Hills exploring the low tide tidbits. There were dead fish carcasses, Stingray shells, empty of the fish itself, and just lying in the hot sun smelling up the beach line. There weren’t big shells, not the ones you saw on TV. And the water was not blue, it was dark and forbidding, no one went in the ocean, but instead used the pool facilities at the camp.

As I walked at the end of the line, isolated with the rest of the children, a mix of Jewish boys and girls from the rich city areas like Park Avenue, Madison and upper crust of lower East side.

All of a sudden I had an urge to be with my brother. There was only one way to get to him. I started to have a tantrum and carry on and cry so much that the whole procession of campers and counselors turned around, headed back to camp and dropped me at the shooting range where my brother was with his age group. Although this is many years before Mrs. Greenberg’s class and the field trips Mrs. Fohr used to bring us on that I refused to go to, for fear of bumping into my mom, which did happen!

I got to be the only 4 year old girl who got to shoot the bee-bee guns that only the boys shot. The girls would shoot archery, but when I shot archery I would get a bruise from the taunt string, and the pain became scary for me.

After a few hours of shooting I was reunited with my age group and kissed my brother goodbye, knowing we’d see each other after lunch and head for the buses to go home. The food at this camp was terrible. I can still smell and taste the food and drink at Rocky Hill Day Camp. The juice was usually pineapple juice; the food was hot dogs and beans, or ravioli (ugh!). And the dessert was coconut cookies. It was a very strange combination, like trying to get a little kid like me to like Sushi.

Even my first camp out was a blow out, when while making Some-mores with chocolate bars and marshmallow and graham crackers, I all of a sudden got “the runs” very badly. It must have been something I ate earlier, but the counselors got me up to the office bathroom and I sat on that toilet for what seemed like hours.

Then nothing came out, and the ones in charge at the little day camp said to close my eyes and focus on one thing, and that was the first time I thought of "fire" and the sparks that crackle and pop as they float up to the sky through the pine trees. My stomach suddenly cleared and my colon emptied. A cheer went up and they cleaned me off and help me change into clean clothes. It was late by then, past 11 pm,

Finally when everyone else was asleep in the big smelly green army tent, the counselors carried me gently to my cot and laid me down lovingly and called brave and a little Indian princess for handling the situation. But later on as I dosed off, I heard them talking about how it was funny to see me like that after they added Castor Oil to my treat which made me get the runs in the first place. I should have know when they cleaned me up and were laughing with me about the incident, saying I did very well and didn’t panic. But why it only happened to me, I asked myself then and it came to me like a lighting bolt when I heard them talking in hushed tones about how it made them look great to the director of the camp who'd been entertaining the investors in the camp near the tip of Cap Cod.

I was perfect bait for their plot to get a bonus and an extra few nights out for saving "the camper", me. I didn't know what to say. I lay there crying quietly. I never let on about what I overheard, but the next day I realized I didn't have an appetite, and I was always stressed at meal times at the ritzy day camp my parents sent myself and my 2 older brothers.

That’s when I started thinking that maybe I should have been born a boy! I always had that with me since early times. And if I were a boy, then I'd be across the little creek in a pup tent living like am American Indian, instead of being drugged by the counselors who were supposed to be taking care of us and teaching us about the outdoors and social skills.

But I was simply more fodder and praise heaped on them by the time the last session was over and done with. So the last two weeks I fought back by demanding to be put with the boys, specifically, my brother Niles. He was my first best friend, so I naturally clung to him for support. I was crying and carrying on in the arts and crafts tent so they finally found my brother at the BB gun camp, so I was taken there by two counselors, one involved in my Castor Oil ingestion. By the way, I was totally afraid to eat anything so lost some weight.

Getting back to me being born a boy. It could have been, maybe if God had allowed it. There were about 8 slots, because of the 4 dead births my mother had before I was born. Maybe if I had been born in one of those slots I would have been a male baby and it would have been ad different story.

My parents were from the Fifties, 10 years or so before the Hippies became parents, so their values were steeped in traditional things like Boarding School pack up if we kept acting up, even though Boarding school was more appropriate for my older brother. Or the time my father bought hunting knives and tried to entice my brothers into a camping/rafting trip in Canada. I know he would have never taken them there, but he was a dreamer and wanted to brag to his fair-weather Gin Rummy buddies about how he took his boys out into the wilds of Toronto in the dead of winter and all they had were tents and hunting knnives.

My older brother was always chased by bad dreams about wild animals like lions and tigers, and such jungle characters, so when his little mind started imagining myended different.

Maybe, maybe not. Destiny is a tricky thing. We have freewill, we have the right to go whatever path is laid before us, and usually I’d pick the constantly wrong path, but then get righted, but then the curse would flare up and I’d lose it.

Doesn't anyone wonder how my family began hating up on me? I'm trying to zero in on where it might have culminated from, where it was borne from.

This issue with my family goes very deep for me. It took me 30 years to start acting out over it. What, you ask? Well, it’s the cold shoulder treatment I got in the beginning when I first decided my life’s journey to go to college, be a social worker and move out to California to save the World (and meet David Carradine). The family ridiculed, they ignored, they came, they left, they conquered, they isolated and finally threw it all back in my face, blaming me for their exiling and crucifying of me.

At that time, I'd been living up in Beverly Hills CA in a house that was being rented to us by one of Liz Taylor's boyfriend's back then, Henry Weinhardt. It was a very interesting "stilt house" sporting a 360 degree view of Los Angeles and the Valley on all sides. One of my first roommates, Ben, and his weird girlfriend Tiffany, found it. I was also living with my childhood friend, this guy named Jona, who was my childhood friend and had invited me to live with them. And after those 3 left the house, I met this black musician Justin and his Afro-American cohorts in May of 1983.

I was now living with Justin and his friends from South Central L.A. for about 1 month and my mother had finally found out they were black, all 5 of them ... Perry, Justin, Stefan, Kim and Rodney! Ben had found out one day when he came to the house to pick up more of his things. He called my mother and told her the whole story.We all resided in that house in Beverly Hills now. Mother had even called the Beverly Hills Police and said her daughter (me) was being held against her will by 5 black men (even though one of them was a woman)

Then my sister met someone and was going to be married. She called and said, “Why don’t you skip the wedding, it’s not really your thing," thinking that mom would be a basket case if I came now. They all thought I was going to bring one of my roommates. My mother had barged in on us when she was staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel, and was aghast when she walked into our empty house in the hills and saw whom I was living with. She left in tears. So my sister didn't really want any trouble on her day!

“Really, are you sure?” I asked from the house in Beverly Hills, already packing and getting ready and had gotten the ticket, but with a bit of dread.

“We can spend some time together when I get back from my honeymoon,” she said sweetly, but I knew she had a knack for making everything sound great over the phone. I wanted her to love and accept me like when we were kids, so I agreed.

But the truth was our family lawyer was going to be giving her away. She'd had a crush on him for many years, even after he supposedly stole from our family trust fund. It was well known at that time that I tried to sue this unscrupulous attorney, but failed, so Donald Snell and I had a strong dislike of one another. That along with the state of mind of my mother at that time too.

I agreed with my sister, maybe it would be for the best, but as soon I hung up and began to unpack, imagining myself cashing in the ticket to buy new clothes, the phone rang. It was my frantic mother. "Indeed you will be attending your sister’s wedding, I don’t care what she says, just get on the plane and come!” I did.

I came back east. The wedding was elegant, and I met some nice people, saw my, family, etc. I had to take photos with the lawyer. His soft, little golfing hands were sweaty in my palms, but miraculously we got through the ordeal. The photographer kept posing Don and I closer and closer together, even a weird photo of us holding hands and smiling up at each other. What a hoax that was.

The wedding was at The Breakers, one of the famous, rich hotels on the Atlantic Ocean. I was glad I had brought that video camera and filmed a most wonderful piece on the wedding from beginning to end! I painstakingly added music, and edited out Attorney Don and went all out on the ‘splash and flair’. It was so professional, even my brother, who never said much, exclaimed, “Wow, you should charge money for that!”

So when I went to the wedding. All I had done at that point was try to sue the man. But it ran into a snag when I was told by my own lawyer, who was one of the attorneys at the firm I was working at – The Law Offices of Sam Perlmutter, that too much time had passed. I had lost even before we’d begun.

In fact, Don Snell had shafted me 6 months earlier, when I needed surgery for an Ovarian Tumor. I had to secure $1,000 dollar for a down payment on the procedure, which I desperately needed. He’d promised to send it, and never did, so I had to borrow from a friend.

Luckily it all worked out, but Don had not helped me, so I got it in my head to sue him, and now here I was standing next to him taking photos at my sisters wedding, and then having to videotape him giving her away!

I was not even a part of the wedding party, he was! I was not asked to be part of the wedding party. And I was not a bridesmaid. So in my embarrassment, I hid behind the video camera!

It was a great effort and my sister really appreciated it, but I only saw the final cut before mailing it to her. Then, 10 years later, when I'd visited her with an ex-boyfriend after he'd been left cash in some old man's will, I got to see it again, and then sis locked it back up in a huge safe in her clothes closet.

“Can’t I even burn a copy?”

“I’ll make you a copy after you go, promise,” she said, closing the closet door and locking that up too.

“Hey, my clothes and suitcase are in there!”

“So what, if you need it, just tell me and I’ll open it! I can’t leave things unlocked, my kid may get into something. I can’t help it if you don’t have a life back in California and don’t have much responsibility, but I got a little kid here growing up,” said sister point blank. At that moment I wanted to leave and go home right on the spot. I finally realized I didn’t belong with them. I was never really accepted by them, and never would be in the future. I had intuition on this one.

Even though my sister’s new husband was a darn good business man, there was a snide side to him. It was like he was making fun of me behind my back. My first visit there, he was winking at me and throwing me very candid looks.

He ended up rising up in his business and had held his own for a good solid 15 years before he got very rich, then a little greedy and maybe a trip to the dark, seamy side of wheeling and dealing. I'm sure they had fun, bought cars and jewelry, and well, the rest is history!

He contributed to the split between my family and me like a lost piece of a puzzle. It was all becoming a big isolation syndrome game they were playing with me! I read between the lines of their emails and heard their lighthearted, but stinging whispers about me. I was not part of their pack, I wasn’t fitting in, and none of them understood my love of David Carradine!

They seemed to have decided that they didn't want me around, mostly due to my honesty and continuous reopening of our past and my father’s suicide and all the details and mucky mess of that situation. I was always, even as a child, prone to analyzing all the odd and negative things that happened to me.

I would turn the incident over and over in my mind and think of and write down all the reasons as to why it happened, how I was involved, and wondered if God had a plan for me. You can read about it in my early diaries of those days. I saved it all. But for now I am writing this novel to try and put it together without hurting the family. It’s okay that I talk about myself; I have received many emails from people wanting me to continue, so I will.

That brings up the fact that my family never wanted me talking about them on the net (but I do) or any electronic media outlets (and I try) about the reasons as to “why and how” I went so wrong with them as my family unit. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, even Steve Wilkos and The Wendy Williams Show were contacted by me and sent a blog about the family issue.

Could it be mental illness or my father’s death, perhaps? I wanted it all in front of me to watch on a screen, but family was having none of that! They would have no part in having to appear with their crazy sibling! Dredging up the past is not on my family's ‘Silver Platter’!

My sister kept saying that it was very uncomfortable for her, even if I did change the names, her friends and past pals knew it was "us", “them”, "me"! And no use trying to cover up the name of the town too much. Believe it or not, whatever this is, it's like therapy for me, and I will continue the series as long as my writing site allows me to post it.

Before you begin reading or skimming this novel, I want you to know that my family over the years has disowned me about 10 times literally. Not for this novel yet, but for several other blogs, posts, articles and books I wrote pertaining to them. Not flattering in most instances, hidden, but not well enough for everyone connected.

I wrote one great novel about good family times in New York City when things were great during the early 1970’s. Back then mom was known as “The Snow Queen” and sister was “The Babe”, Dad was “Bourge”, and I was “Cochise”.

Still, to them it was very embarrassing, especially for my sister. I took it too far, and she fought back to quiet my keyboard, and for a while I adhered, but now I must get back to the business of this novel and how it can help me cope by seeing it in print and for others to read.

I've angered my family, their friends, my relatives and past bullies of the town my family last lived all under one roof in. They are all connected. The family, the friends, the relatives, the bullies, and all the 'haters' that went along with that town. But now I do not care, I just want to release this so others can learn. Maybe it will make a difference, and just maybe Anderson Cooper or Dr. Phil will contact me. I’ve already been contacted by Anderson’s people who passed on doing an interview with me on my mother’s phone bullying.

As you read this novel, don’t judge me, just keep an open mind, a lot of it will be honest and brutal, maybe even dull. But still remember my mother still protecting Don the attorney.

“Why’d you have to try and sue Don?” asked my mother over the phone. “Where was that going to get you,” she sneered.

“I don’t know, Mom, I was angry he didn’t lend me the surgery money,” I answered honestly.

“You could have asked your job for an advance, since they were so interested in your case,” she said angrily.

“Mom, stop!” I was about to hang up on her.

“And look, you’re fine, you got the money from your friend and it was not Cancerous, everything is okay, so why sue Don? He always gave you everything, sent you to USC and college in West Virginia. How could you do that?”

“I was not in my right mind,” I said, using the same excuse for why I asked her if her own mother murdered her children!

“And calling my mother a murderer!” screamed my mother into the receiver. “What were you thinking? That stuck me like a knife, I’ll never get over it. You’ve done a number on this family. But you know what? I’m going to outlive all of you!” She hung up abruptly, not letting me answer.

So I started acting out online to get my point across. The Internet was another universe to my mother, like The Forbidden Zone in the movie Planet of the Apes. I was the Charlton Heston character trying to discredit the Apes' idea that the human race was not superior thousands of years ago. He is practically ranting to prove it to Dr. Zaius (my mother). It’s very metaphorical and surreal.

I have been finally shut out by family! All due to me ‘acting out’ over treatment by them long before the Internet, Facebook and Google were in place. Maybe posting about my past with them is wrong, and it probably is, and maybe again I am opening a big can of worms. But, this time I may just catch a golden fish.

My family has cast me off, abandoned me, willed me to the Cornfield, but I cannot blame them totally for it. I never realized I had inherited my Grandmother’s hot temper and it might have contributed when they would call and get me upset, or tell me something great they were doing as I struggled.

The rift between my sister and I most probably began around 1992 when my mother sent me a photo of my sister on a boat wearing a bikini. She asked me what I thought, and I told the truth, that sister looked a bit chunky, but not bad. Mother simply used that little comment and turned it into a whirlwind of hate and jealousy when she told my sister, but in a more cruel way, making it seem my comment was more than it was.

And with my mother, it might have tipped the boat when I all of a sudden started quizzing her about her own mother and possible mental illness in the family. She twisted everything I asked to suit her own means to stop me from letting the cat out of the bag, so to say. She began a vendetta back then, saying I hated my family, then going to all of them and saying I said things about them unflattering.

The woman even wrote my doctor of 15 years and said, "...Don't treat my daughter anymore, she puts her family's dirty laundry and private business on the Internet, and she may do that to you one day, this is a warning!"

Mom even got me fired from a job when she called Human Resources and said, "...I know the owners of your company, so you had better fire my daughter, she's hanging up on clients!" Two weeks later I was let go.

To get my sister's head turned away from me even more, my mother constantly reminded her of things I was saying, and even blocked my calls to the hospital when sister was having her first child, then saying I never called, when in reality, my sister had called me instead. She was so out of it, that she forgot we talked.

Besides saying to everyone that I said sister was fat in a photo, my mother began spreading vicious, hateful things she said that I had said, and that made everyone become afraid of me. Of course I didn't say it as mean as my mother said I had, and I thought my sister gained a little weight in the 12 years I had not laid eyes on her, and it shocked me, so I blurted it all out to my mother, who went and told my sister.

The whole thing with my family smells of “abandonment issues” on my own part. Now I finally realize I may not be able to get them back ever. I know that now. I doubt there is a high chance that I will ever see them again -- My sister, my mother, my brothers and of course my father. I don't think I will see them unless I go to their caskets and kiss them all goodbye. But I doubt I'll even go to their funerals, nor they to my own. My mother actually got a letter drafted and notarized saying in simple legal terms that I, her oldest daughter, was to be barred from her funeral at all costs. She signed it and put it in a safety deposit box at the bank.

A few years ago I started to ‘act out’, write articles and books loosely based on my family, just like Woody Allen did. But unlike Allen's family who supported his craft, I found out very quickly that my mother began working behind the scenes to detach me from my family with more intensity than before, and maybe in some ways in her own mind I did deserve it.

But down the line, there is one word that kept coming out of my mouth as the family drew away to my mother's negative torch song about me ... Forgiveness. I think that says it all. As I told one of the people that commented on this novel when I had posted it initially online, “…I didn’t start to use the Internet to get to my family until my now ex brother-in-law began writing me during 9/11. He seemed to want to bury the hatchet and we wrote back and forth for months until one day my sister found those emails and that really sealed the cement overshoes in regards to my family and I."

Now for the novel. Names and town have been changed to protect the guilty! All incidents are true and really happened. It's how it is, it's how I roll. I'm sorry if I offend anyone... AGAIN!

A PRIVATE NOVEL – BULLIES OF CAROLTOWN A TRUE STORY!

CHAPTER 1

NEW YORK HIGH RISE TO LITTLE ITALIAN TOWN

The Beginning:

My family lived in a very elegant apartment with flowers, fancy wallpaper, expensive paintings and antiques, sweet smelling candles, plush Berber rugs, hall rugs, shag rugs, and wall to wall rugs. The beautiful shiny marble floors, and expensive linoleum, along with the costly stone and brick made way for some pretty high priced furniture to sit on. And that was just scratching the surface of the 5 bedroom high rise apartment overlooking New York City where you could almost make out the Statue of Liberty on a clear day.

It was quite real to us at the time. Our family was very wealthy. Dad’s factory was booming and he was playing high stakes in the Stock Market and winning. His luck was great, even garnering $80,000 bucks in Vegas, and a few ‘hole in one’s’ on the links. Their friends were people like the President of Miss USA/Miss Universe, President of Bloomingdale's (whom we would joke with in the elevator) and various TV celebrities that came in, stayed, left and called on the phone. Big wig businessmen, lots of Broadway theater actors and comedians passed through our apartment at parties and holidays. It was a revolving door that I loved to watch.

To put it mildly, money was flowing and we were living the Life of Riley while growing up. I still remember the birthdays, the holidays, and the family get togethers. It was amazing. The food, the presents, the parties, watching my mother sing opera by the big bay windows in our living room over 20 stories up overlooking First Avenue and the East River in New York City are memorable. I never fail to see that same building in movies shot in New York, or in the New York skyline shots on postcards, in movies and on television to this day!

Mother was once a singer and entertainer in the Fifties. She settled down with my father, who designed women’s underwear and made sheets of fine lace at his factory. Dad was out of town 3 days out of the week in another state seeing to his business with the manufacturing of lace mostly. He’d fly in and out of Kennedy Airport, and kept a two bedroom apartment near his business. It was quite a jet set life back then, now that I think back to it.

My younger sister was conceived by accident, but they kept her, and I'm sure they were glad. She was a little diamond in the rough, and learned it early in her life. Well, she was the baby.

I still remember the first time I realized she was there! I had gone into her nursery when I was around 3 or so. She was lying ever so quietly sleeping. I poked my finger at her face and she awoke all red faced and crying loudly, so I threw an Oreo Cookie in the crib and ran out of the nursery. Later on, I sneaked back in and saw that she had crushed the cookie into crumbs in her little perfectly formed hands

I began a ritual of always visiting her room. Sometimes I’d walk in the nursery and there she was, my ‘cute as a button’ little sister shaking the crib trying to make it tip over and fall to the ground. She was very over excited, and the nanny was nervous.

Emily was a pretty, comely black girl who could not have been more than 22 years old. At that moment she was aghast and at her wits end about the situation. There was nothing out of the ordinary with what the baby was doing; it was a form of self-expression. It was better than her crying all day. At least it was a fun thing. And she would not be able to tip the crib over, she was not strong enough.

“Why does she do that? I need her to stop, she could get hurt," lamented Emily. "What if that crib falls over? Look, she's making funny faces and laughing,” said the frustrated Nanny, turning to me for an answer, like a 3 year old had the answer.

“I think it’s funny,” I said running up to the crib and making a funny face back at my sister.

"Don't encourage her!" Emily ran up and roughly grabbed the little cherub, brought her into the bathroom and spanked her, rather than teach the baby not to shake the crib so much. "Listen to me little Flower, you stop doing that, you will get hurt!"

I could hear my sister crying hysterically as Emily put her back in the crib. This was not going to be the first time a nanny got frustrated with my little sister's antics, and it would not be the last. And that went for my own hyper, out of control self too.

My parents, after having 3 other kids would say, “Well, she doesn’t do it all the time. Don’t worry, she’ll grow out of it once she starts sleeping in a bed,” seeming to leave my sister to her own devices, My dad had appeared at her nursery and nailed the crib to the floor and that ended that game.

But little sister, in the meantime back then, had picked up a habitual fear of nannies and therefore was hard to control. She was the charge of a nanny that had no experience. Little Sis had also developed a fear of water and dogs.

After I told my father, in my baby language about the nanny and what she did to my little sister, they quietly let her go and hired the licensed nursemaid that ended up raising me. She took complete control over the situation and ran the household with an iron hand. She was very kind and the right person for taking care of all 4 of us, plus my parents.

She was a religious lady, and Italian. I think my father fell in love with her even though she was years older than he. Through the years my siblings would see photos of she and I together and would exclaim, “Oh my, you and Florence Migliachi look so much alike,”

“Seriously,” said my older brother. “If you put her photo up to your face, she could be your mom,” he marveled.

I’d make my face look older by sucking in my cheeks. “Oh my God, you’re right,” I said. “To tell you the truth, I really DID look like I could have been Flo’s daughter.” Sometimes I would stare intently in the mirror until I saw myself as an older Flo. It really freaked me out.

My brothers shared a room down the hallway, and my parent’s had a huge master bedroom at the far end. It was an enormous apartment. There was even a maid’s quarters used by our nannies and housekeepers. Although we had many helping to raise us, my sister and I were drawing closer as friends.

Thinking back now to then, I cherish those times I had with my sister, especially now when I am alone. She doesn't want me, nor does any of my family presently. But I remember the good times of our childhood, and the bad times as well.

We would play games, role play different characters. Usually she was the Queen and I was the King. Or I was a little cave boy named ‘Uggie’ whom she rescues and tames. I remember us role playing lots of stuff all day long. We'd mimicked what was on t.v. at the time, and were actually born actresses ourselves.

What influenced us even more was when my mother and another lady produced "Hansel & Gretel" at our school. My sister and I were both in this play.

We used the High School Of Art & Design's auditorium stage and rehearsed the play after school. It t was the first time I had seen my mother in my school and was not embarrassed over it. I loved what she was doing and the way she was doing it. It was nice to see her working with with us and giving of her craft and her time, rather than her usual antics of over dressing and over primping herself to look too good, too glamorous. One of my best friend's mothers was helping with it.

When my own mom was in show business, she worked with, and became very friendly with Eartha Kitt, the first black Catwoman! I think that my friend's mother reminded my own mother of the days when she and Eartha ran the streets of New York City, Greenwich Village and the Jazz clubs; having a ball singing and carrying on, knowing they 'had it back then', so this must have been the driving factor in my mother's decision to get involved as well as for her ego.

Sometimes a person, a face or personality will trigger memories in another person as it did to my own mother. I was proud that Mrs. Watkins was the mother of my best friend Nanette.

In fact, I was allowed to have my first sleep over at Nanette's apartment on West 59th Street, not a bad area. I still remember sleeping in a strange bed and waking up crying over the darkness in the room. The other children from my class awoke and calmed me, as did Mrs. Watkins. From then on I never cried again like that, and enjoyed the rest of the party.

I remember waiting for my mom after all the kids and teachers left, and the school was eerily empty. My sister and I would sit on the steps waiting. It was one of the first times I was not ashamed or embarrassed or singled out for having my mom at school because mother was glamorous and different than all the other parents and I was taking full advantage of that.

She'd drive up in a limo, after picking up Mrs. Watkins. Mom would see us sitting on the school steps and jumped out of the car, offer a hug and give each of us of few bucks to buy hot dogs and soda from the hot dog cart across the street.

Both she and Nanette's mom were the producers and directors of the play. I loved Nanette's mother. Nanette herself was a tall black kid, tallest kid in the class. She was a good friend, and when I became a patrol guard in 5th and 6th grades on the back steps (also thanks to Mrs. Greenberg and the principal), Nanette was my sidekick and we'd guard that area. Sometimes my sister would join us and we’d sit on the steps eating Cinnamon candy and watching the older high school kids smoke marijuana out of the huge windows by the stairs.

The play went off without a hitch. I had the first opening line: "Oh, it's just an old crone coming across the road!", then during a crucial discussion among the main characters, I say loudly, "I like Curds and Cream". Finally during the action scene where they kill the witch, I screamed"Run," as the lights went out and a voice over came on explaining what happened and the play closed with all of us on stage bowing to a cheering crowd.

That play brought my sister and I even closer. But things between us really started to gel when I used to visit her nursery and sit under her crib. We played our first game together. She would give a signal and I would lie on my back and bump my shoes up against the bottom of the crib. The whole contraption would shake and creak. She’d grab the railing and shake it like she a little bird trying to get away from the cage. It was a fun ride.

Unlike me, my little sister didn’t take to the devout Catholic God/Jesus thing at all. But Flo began teaching us all about God, Jesus and faith. I sopped it all up like a sponge and became a Jesus freak by age 5! Maybe little Sis was just too young at that time. Although I am Jewish, I wanted to be baptized ever since Flo told me about Jesus and began telling me all about the Bible and the inner workings of being a good Catholic.

When my mother found out what was going on, she was livid and actually took the silver cross a girl at school had given me, and threw it out the window of our apartment. "You are Jewish, stop with this Jesus crap," she yelled close to my face. "Where are you learning about all this?"

I cried and ran from the living room and couldn't understand why she was so upset. I wasn't hurting anyone; I wasn't committing any crimes, or teasing my siblings. I was getting good grades in school and was basically a good girl, never stealing or bullying others.

Florence took us to Midnight Mass, Sunday services and sometimes even Wednesday sermons. We stayed with her and her family many times when my parents took my older brothers to South America or St. Martin. It was very exciting staying with Florence. And I was sure my sister would get over her fear of dogs when Flo’s cute Beagle came up and tried to lick her face. I loved Mitzy and when she kissed you, it tickled.

The fear of dogs goes back to when one of my older brothers got bitten in our neighborhood. He needed stitches and it was a drama my mother didn’t want to repeat. So one day my sister and I were outside petting a little Terrier.

Mom came out all dressed up to the nine’s and said, “Oh girls, no, no, no, don’t pet that dog, dogs are poison, remember that, they are poison and will make you sick, do you want be in bed sick?”

My sister began crying. I was scared too, but just of the Terrier breeds. Sis would avoid dogs at all costs after my mother told us that they were poison, although I talked myself into thinking that it was just that particular breed that made someone sick, not all dogs.

Florence Migliachi was having none of the fear of or crying over her precious Beagle Mitzy. She practically forced the dog on us at first. I took to Mitzy due to my contact with the pooch at summer camp.

All my little sister could recall about dogs was that they were bad and would make you sick. So she tried avoiding Mitzy. But one day we came back from a trip to the Stop and Shop and Mitzy jumped up on my sister, but instead of crying, which seemed about what she was going to do, my little sister laughed as the overfed Beagle licked her cold face and cocked her cute doggy face at sis. From then on, sis loved all dogs.

Flo said, “Mitzy won you over, and God took away your fear. See how Jesus works in our lives,” she preached. I listened as my sister smiled.

Beagles became little sister’s favorite, and a stuffed bear named ‘Jason’. We named our stuffed animals and to this day remember what we called each one of them: Tiffy, Isabella, Milano, Spotty, Oreo, Jason and Jake. I even recall the names of my older brothers stuffed animals. One was a green Dinosaur named Cecil. The other was a stuffed German Sheperd named Adolph.

My 2 older brothers had nannies too. For my older brother there was a sassy young black woman named Sophie who would throw shoes at him and scream at the oldest for many reasons.

I had a Miss Haltress, a tall, white, slightly nervous, but cool headed nurse maid. She once dropped me on the floor someone told me, maybe my brother. She was changing me and I was such a fussy baby, she’d lose control. One day I fell off the changing table and landed on my head, so they told me. Flo didn't show up until I was 3 years old, and just in the nick of time.

When my other brother was born, my parents hired a wonderful black woman named Izzy Rose. My brother absolutely loved this woman. He’d follow her around as she cleaned the house, bathed my little sister and did her thing around the place.

Izzy is responsible for my first public transportation ride. She'd take us on the bus to her little apartment. She had a dog, a little mutt that always pooped all over her kitchen floor. She was so kind and let us watch TV and then made us dinner, then we’d take the bus back home and she’d put us to bed. Very kind black woman. She smelled like Chiclets Gum and drank Phillips Milk of Magnesia.

And finally, after hiring a very crabby, mean Italian nanny named Vera, who actually washed my sister's mouth out with soap; they fired her and found a most wonderful lady from the West Indies who stayed with my family until I was a sophomore in college!

CHAPTER 2 – SISTER COMES AROUND AND GROWS UP!

Finally, sister began growing up, partly because of Florence and my father, and partly when she was sent with me to a 9 week summer camp where we both learned to behave. She stopped sucking her thumb and bloomed into an even prettier little girl.

After the play, we went to summer camp. The director of the summer camp talked to us about our fear of taking a shower, and how my sister would cry when she didn't want to go near or under the water! He helped us get over some pretty dumb fears, never hurting us or chastising us for it, just coaxing us out of the bad habits. That's what camp was for..

Both of us were afraid of water, but the camp was very good at easing us into things. The counselors were the first Hippies of the Sixties. I wouldn't go near or into the lake until two swimming counselors coaxed and gently prodded me until the dinner bell rang. I remember how happy we all were when I finally walked into the lake and swam out to the middle and back again, even stepping on the muddy bottom for good measure.

"Groovy," screamed one counselor named Nan. "You did it kiddo!"

"I would have stayed here until you did," said another swim counselor named Suki.

My sister fared even better, becoming the camp mascot. When color war competition started the last 2 weeks of camp, they would dress her in different team’s logos and colors. Once they hoisted her up on a huge surfboard as a mermaid and carried her to the director's table and she said, "Come up and see me sometime," the Mae West line!

The director of the small camp loved it. They also dressed her up as a spider, Alice in Wonderland and several well made, and brightly painted costumes she would wear as they marched the rest of us to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes she would be the mascot for the Gold team, other times the Blue team.

My sister thrived at the camp and began starring in the productions our last two years there. She played lead roles, supporting roles, chorus roles and sang. She played a few roles in some Follies and song fests, as well as being the mascot. Her second year another girl her same age arrived at the came and they even shared our last name!

Lori and my sister were ALWAYS in competition with each other, yet the counselors told them to pretend to be good friends for 'good sportsmanship'. They actually didn't like each other and there was always a bit of tension between them. I saw it when the director announced a game of capture the flag and Lori was one of the first kids to be captured and put in the 'prison' cabin. Lori cried and carried on as she spotted her rival sitting by the flagpole as the mascot and therefore exempted from the game altogether. My sister sat there eating an orange popcycle as Lori was told to go to jail.

After more crying and carrying on in the cabin designated for the prison, they let Lori free and she ran over to my sister and tried to provoke her. My sister was having none of that and yelled back at Lori that she was a baby for crying about being caught in a stupid game.

A counselor within earshot heard the exchange between the two girls and put stop to it. "Okay girls, stop this bickering, or no candy after dinner, and you won't be able to sit by the fire and make Some'mores. As quick as lightning the girl stopped and hugged and held hands pretending they were the best of friends. Being mascots made them little actresses, and they were getting pretty darn good at it.

I was being bullied at the 2 camps we attended over a period of 10 years, but it did have its high points, like I loved the camp dog at the 2nd camp, a female Lab who I followed around and always wanted to be with. It was strange, but they put up with it. My parents must have put up a lot of money for us to get away with all that. But the camp had its punishments, which were not as harsh as a spanking, but could very isolating.

I'd even had my own line to say when our team sang "Oh where, Oh where can that black dog be, Oh where, oh where can she be? With her fur so black and her tail wagging, her name is...."

"Tiffy," I would say, my voice echoing into the social hall as we rehearsed the song fest. I also got to say the name of the other, not so popular camp dog, "Spotty" when everyone sang, "Everyone knows its....."

"Spotty," I yelled at the top of my lungs.

At the 3rd one, the camp director had 3 huge "Terriers" called Airedale Terriers. I was instantly afraid to pet them as they ran the length of the camp. Every time I saw those dogs it was like I was running from bears.

Once at the 2nd camp, when I did not get to play the camp dog as I had the last two years of me going to the camp, they did not call my name and I ran to my cabin and was having a crying tantrum. The activity was called “Camper/Counselor Day, where campers took roles of authority lasting 24 hours.

The director would call out the names of the switched identities between campers and counselors. I heard my name called to play “Tiffy the camp dog” Since I’d gone to this camp, I had fallen head over heels with the black lab and would follow the animal around, pet her, feed her treats and even wash her.

This counselor named Lynn sweet talked me and was kind to me even though she was instrumental in getting the camp director to take my name off that list and let me learn how to be more "mature". I even got a merit card called "BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MATURITY" it was signed by Lynn and the Tennis Counselor Donny Blatt. When they didn't call my name, I began to have a tantrum. So Lynn came to me with the tennis counselor, and quieted me by talking it out rather than isolating me, which is what they usually did when I got that way at the camp.

But the camp loved having my sister play the mascot for the teams. She was just so cute, like a cute little doll that looked at you with perfect features, big brown soft eyes and not many could resist my sister's charm. What could be better than that?

After we got home that summer from camp, my sister began decorating our bedroom in different Broadway show themes like "The King and I", "Oklahoma", "Cinderella", and even "Jesus Christ Superstar". We would put on parts of those musicals and our parents would usually watch it during one of their elegant dinner parties of the early Seventies when we lived in that posh apartment building on First Avenue, next door to the United Nations Building.

We did it for two reasons. One was because of the camp director's love for Broadway shows, and the second was that our own mother was on Broadway in the Fifties doing shows like Oklahoma and we were greatly influenced by that.

I still remember the time we dressed up as 2 Oriental ladies sitting on a window sill and put on the The Mikado album. Sis and I dressed in mom's best scarves of those days and used the tops of our laundry baskets which were made of white wicker. They always reminded me of Chinese hats. We were so young, so it was all so amazing to my parents and their friends who were on the Broadway circuit.

We played these little thumb cymbals and marihi’s and sang along with the record. My mother loved it and made my brothers and the housekeeper at the time watch it too. We were so adorable, but especially my sister, she was the real star at that time, and you could see that reflected in my mother’s proud hazel eyes.

Dad came home that evening from a long business week. After he unwound with his Vodka and herring, and right after dinner in the glamorous candle lit living room, served by one of our housekeepers from the West Indies, they would sit quietly and watch our shows. My dad sometimes broke out the Polaroid camera. We were in heaven. I felt so close to my family during those years.

In fact, we would put on many plays and musicals and little follies for my parents and their company at parties. Famous comics like Jack Benny, George Burns and even Johnny Carson enjoyed our shows. If I had only known then who those men were as we shuffled and crammed them all into our cute bedroom, I would have talked them up, but I was just so young. Both of us were creative, painted, could draw, did art projects and music, usually singing along with the vast record collection.

I recall that during our elementary school years in New York City, my sister and I were very close too. She and I shared our friends with each other for years. By the time I got to 5th grade, we were sharing lots of pals in the neighborhood. After school we'd take the city bus and head home, sometimes with friends in tow, especially when I started 5th grade and I was tested and scored the highest in the class.

That's when the teacher Mrs. Greenberg took a special liking to me and pushed me to write and express myself with extra credit projects, like reporting on Watergate when it first happened, and what was going on in the world after we'd listen to radio shows of the news. It was totally awesome and my sister was in awe of me the only time in our whole existence together except when she came to my college, but that would be years later.

I had many friends and we had little parties as we drew close to my 6th grade graduation. Soon I'd be graduated and going to junior high school. I'd heard horror stories from my brother, who could just bear the bullying and harassment of this out of the district school my parents sent us too. I think they were low on funds, and decided all the extra school funds would go to another area.

But there were bullies too in our neighborhood. There was a dog grooming place on 51st Street called "Poodle Entaché". The lady who ran it was a tough little Italian lady who had a few kids. One of them was named Vivian, and her cousin Kathleen. They used to bully us as we passed the shop.

They usually had, during the warm months, a lemonade stand with crappy lemonade and they'd block our way. My brother was scared of them. I was too. I walked with my sister quickly down the street, and I was holding on to her pants to keep pace and I heard Vivian scream, "Look, their rubbing each other's butts!"

Kathleen said, "Oh, you're right Viv, look at 'em!"

My sister turned around and gave them the finger! It sort of made the other girls jealous in some weird way and stunned them long enough for us to get to the outskirts of where we lived. Security guards were at every corner, so the other girl's immediately backed off after throwing a few lemon peels at us, and trying to get the bitter juice in our faces. We went through the elegant wonderful lobby saying hello to our regular favorite workers in the building.

Another older bully named Michael Payne would bug us whenever he could get away with it, even stealing a toy from my sister called the Kidder Car. He grabbed the cool looking thing and ran away with it. We called our father from the phone downstairs in the lobby. Dad came down and sprinted down the street and around the corner and nabbed Michael in about 5 minutes, Kidder Car and all.

Another kid wandered into our neighborhood and began mugging my brother and I of our lunch money and bus passes. He had done it 3 times to other people too. When he was finally caught, my father came to our school at that time and we all rode down to the police station to identify the kid. I remember riding in the front of a police car sitting on the lap our school principal. My father rode in back with my brother.

We got to the police station. There was a skinny kid sitting at a table crying. That was the guy and we told the officers who commended us on catching this particular bully. He whispered to us that they were just going to scare him, that his parents were on the way and he was in big trouble. My father was very proud of us for days and lavished much attention on us, even taking us to his favorite hot dog place on Broadway.

It was when the principal of the school had a big "to do" with other parents that found out he was gay, that my mom decided to back him, and in those days being gay in the school system meant instant "0" tolerance and goodbye to his job, that is, up until my own mother fought for him, got lawyers and media on the case and practically wrote her own law, at least acting like she did in those good days when she stepped up for the principal. It was like she had become an instant hero. She could do no wrong. She had saved his job and he was grateful.

The weirdest thing about the whole issue was that a lady in our own building, a Mrs. Morreti who had two children on the 8th floor, was the one that breached it, and her children didn't even attend our school. Somehow she told the right parents at our school and headed up some sort of committee with them. There was a brewing rivalry going on between her and my mother since they both moved into the building. My mother seemed to love all things Italian, and having a rival who was Italian and whose husband was known to hang around and deal with mobsters, this lady was a shoe in to be the perfect antagonist to my mother's heroism!

Through all that, I have happy memories of the fun antics of my sister and me; our plays, our fun, our books, our projects. It was one of the happiest times for me. She was my constant companion when we were little. We shared everything and went everywhere together.

Little sis and I became best friends. We shared a bedroom, talked into the night about all things. We staged parts of blockbuster movies like Cleopatra and created the costumes from expensive 300 thread count sheets, towels and shiny paper. We even dressed up in plastic Roman soldier armor bought at the toy store and reenacted stuff from the Bible and the days of Jesus, with me playing the Son of God!

Once we found a photo of silent movie king Charlie Chaplin, but he was in his late 80’s, so we colored in his old costume and a mustache and hat, and hung it on the wall. It was a riot, everyone laughed at it, because truth be known, we were gifted children. We made little books about each other, and other crafts. We laughed together, we hung together, we bathed together, and we told each other our lies and secrets.

My sister talked and swore in her sleep like a salty sailor. It seemed like she was awake when she did it, and it was scary to realize she really was deeply asleep. Sometimes she would even get out of bed and walk around the room talking. I almost could hear some voice answering her. Sometimes I'd answer her. Contrary to my family’s popular belief, I did not teach her how to swear. After she revealed she already knew the word, I may have expounded on it.

Around that time, my sister began having a series of accidents. The first was when she was walking around in a pair of my mom's shoes with a plastic ruler stuck in her mouth like a cigar. All of us were in my parent's master bedroom sitting on the bed talking, laughing and joking around.

She walked across the plush light blue carpet wearing my mother's high heels and suddenly fell down face first, lodging the ruler against her upper pallet, ripping the delicate skin there. Blood gushed out of her mouth and on to the rug. She began choking as my father jumped up and quickly grabbed her, got a towel as she began vomiting up blood swallowed in the fall.

As she was being rushed to the nearby emergency room, she told my dad that I had given her the ruler and told her to put it in her mouth like a cigar. I didn't know she'd said it to them, and I'm sure she said to pass off the blame. She was a smart cookie!

Sister was sore for a few days, and could barely talk, but did recover completely, no lasting effects. But it was my ruler and she had taken it from my toy box. My parents thought I had given her that ruler and somehow instigated the accident. I don't exactly know why I feel this, or if it's true. They saved her. No permanent damage. We all even joked about it months later. But I wondered constantly why they thought that.

I remember the second big accident my sister had. Our bathroom was being remodeled, so we were bathing in our brother's bathroom. We had this little windup birdcage in the tub and were playing with it. The top of cage came off and floated on top of the cloudy water. As she was getting up to leave, her foot smashed down on the birdcage innards, which consisted of sharp edges and metal dials.

The contraption dug into her big toe almost slicing it off. Blood poured into the tub, turning the water a weird reddish color. She was screaming at the top of her lungs as I jumped out and called for our father, who ran in and grabbed a towel and put my sister on the floor and held her foot up. Blood dripped down my sisters leg even though my dad held tight to her big toe, making a tourniquet.

My sister was again rushed to the same emergency room down the street from our apartment building. She had 10 stitches in her foot, but dad insisted we all go out for his favorite, Chinese food. I hated Chinese food! But a chair was brought out at Bruce Ho's on 45th Street, and my sister's delicate foot was put on a little cushion and covered with a white napkin. My older brother sat right on her foot without thinking. Sis screamed, as my brother jumped 50 feet in the air, losing all the color in his face as he caught my father's expression.

I had watched my dad's expression as he turned and glared at me. Again, they thought I was responsible for pulling apart the birdcage toy and placing it underwater on purpose. But at the time I only had a small feeling of their thoughts that were 'oh so wrong' about me.

And after that dinner, all of a sudden, out of the blue my sister was not allowed to take baths with me any longer. I was devastated and didn't talk to my sister for a few days. She wrote me a letter that said she was sorry. And we made up. So no more baths together. Those were my favorite times, but at the time I thought it was abandoning me. And the 2nd birdcage accident was also blamed on me by my mother and father, and this time I overheard them talking about it.

More was to come, but we still shared a bedroom. She fell asleep like in 3 minutes as I lay there for hours tossing and turning. I'd stare at her in the dark from my own bed and was afraid she was going to die of some disease suddenly. I would cry to myself and pray to Jesus that he'd spare her, that I can't live without my sister. I loved her so much back in those days. I still do, though it seems like I don't.

The last show we did was on my brother's 16th birthday. We called it “The Family Awards”. My sister and I played emcees giving out little homemade trophies to each member for what they did best. Mom got “Best Telephone Talker”, my brother got one for “Best Bike Rider”; my oldest brother got "Best TV Watcher: I got one for “Most Creative” and Dad even got one for best businessman, although at that time we did not realize his business and stocks were failing and on a down slide.

That was the last show we did before we moved to the Caroltown, which was closer to my dad’s business. We ended our last show with the song "Sixteen Candles" by Roy Orbison and as he sang the chorus we mimicked blowing out candles, as if that hailed in our new life in New England!

CHAPTER 3 – GROWING UP TOWARD CAROLTOWN

Another accident would change my sister's and my relationship forever. It was in the spring of 1973. Jose, a boy in my class had found a dead rat lying in an alley. He picked it up and was chasing me and laughing. I was not paying attention when I crashed into my sister, who was waiting at the light oblivious to the drama. We both fell into the street; my fall broke by her body. Her head hit the pavement with a thud and I looked up seeing a UPS truck heading our way. We were both crying and screaming for help when two men picked us up and helped.

They sat us on the curb and calmed the 2 of us. There was a huge bruise on my sister’s forehead and she seemed dazed. Nothing was wrong with me and Jose had long left the scene, unaware of what he caused. The men and another lady walked us calmly back to our school. It was during lunch time. They walked us into the school office and waited for our parents.

There were harsh whispers among the adults in the office and they kept pointing at me. I became very anxious and scared. My father burst into the room and was informed. He spotted me sitting on the bench inside the office but didn’t come to me. He went to the telephone and called my mom and they talked for a bit, then he took my sister to the emergency room. I was to go home with my brother.

“Is she going to be okay Dad?” I asked meekly.

“I don’t know. They think she may have a concussion!” He seemed to be angry at me. But that’s normal; I am supposed to be watching her.

He abruptly left with my sister who had been crying intermittently and giving me a look I’d never seen in her eyes … fear, as she held an ice pack to her forehead and dad led her out to a waiting taxi.

It turned out that she’d told my father that I pushed her on purpose and had even told the men who took us to the school that I, her older sister, who loved her so much, had done it as a mean trick. I had a feeling that’s what it was. No one knew about Jose and the rat, he never saw me smash into my sister. He’d turned the corner and chased after another gal named Marilyn.

Then it all came to a head when my dad sat us all down in the den, as my sister lay in her bed out of it.

“We know you pushed your sister on purpose, so just admit to it,” said my mother.

“No,” I cried, “Jose was chasing me with a dead rat. I didn’t see her at the corner,” I said honestly. But I was so out of control and hyped out that they thought I was lying. “My head was turned away,” I pleaded, seeming to show my guilt.

“You are lying, and I can tell when your eye brows shoot up,” said my father, crossing arms over his Armani brown suit.

“I’m telling you the truth, I swear to Jesus!”

“Oh shut up with your stupid Jesus,” screamed my mother, as she paced back and forth in the den.

I looked out at the extraordinary view, spotting the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building in the distance. I tried to pretend I was there and not being interrogated unfairly and being blamed for my sister’s accident.

There was nothing they could really do to me except ground me. No use spanking me. But they never believed it was a simple accident. My sister recovered with no lasting effects and on occasion she’d mention it out of the blue, “You know, when you pushed me in the street on purpose! Why did you do that?”

I’d plead to her; swear to her, that it was an accident. She never totally believed me, and maybe never forgave me, or so it seemed.

But one morning, when I was home sick with the flu, my sister had left for school. On the way there, somehow she hit her head against a light pole waiting for the bus on First Avenue. She was with my brother when it happened. She came home after being stitched up, and the first thing I noticed as I drank my juice and took my medicine, that her hair was crooked and messy. She was smiling a very strange empty smile.

"Did you get sick at school?" I asked. Next they'd be blaming me for her sicknesses too. But she had not gotten sick. She ran into a light pole all by herself, unless they thought I would cast a spell 10 blocks from our bedroom. I don’t think the family thought it was me at all anymore causing her accidents!

They tried to blame my brother this time, who was with her that morning. He said he was ahead of her and the next thing he saw was her lying on the pavement where they usually waited for the bus near the Italian restaurant on First Avenue. My parents must have felt very guilty about their kids having so many accidents and I've not even touched on my mishaps and scars, as well as my older brother's run ins with glass and car wheels.

For the first time, both my sister and I were in bed sick, her head wound and my sore throat. It was her 4th accident in 2 years. Other than that, it was business as usual for me once I got back to school.

I was bullied by the kids at the NYC junior high school I attended after the popularity spike in Mrs. Greenberg's classes. It was like 'culture shock' for me. This new school was on 73rd Street was not in the best area of town. I was bullied from the moment I walked up teary eyed with my brother, then placed in a rowdy class filled with a mixture of loud mouthed blacks, Puerto Ricans and white trash troublemakers. It was because I was hyper and was prone to getting over excited as I did when we first got on line to enter the school.

A group of rambunctious kids recognized my brother in his strange brown suit and carrying one of those attache briefcases. He also sported an 'afro' and had one of the popular combs used to 'pick' his hair to a fine frizz. We both stood out, oh so out of place in that line in front of the school. I tried to be funny and made fun of ourselves along with the other kids. They were about to throw us both in the trash can on the corner of the street until one of them realized I was a girl, and they backed off.

My best friend Serena was in the "smart quiet class" upstairs at the same school, out of reach from the bad kids in my class at that time. We'd meet during recess and after school and I'd scurry off to her apartment building directly across from the school. We'd hang out there and take her games of Monopoly and Sorry and change the rules and dynamics of the game, or we pretended to be real horses jumping over boxes and toys in her room.

My brother and I were the only white children that went out to lunch rather than eat in the cafeteria where the kids like us ate. Those kids never came near us. I still recall a twin brother and sister who were relativity the same age as I was, but they ignored us and shunned us like a bad smell when they spotted us waiting for the city bus, as they were picked up by the snooty kids yellow school coach, and taken to a nice private school on the outskirts of the city where all they spoke was French. They lived in the same building as we did. Danielle and Danny Morretti, the twins of the woman who caused problems for our old principal.

The only other kids that went out for lunch were a majority of the black students who gathered at the pizza place on 72nd Street and 1st Avenue during lunch. Most of them were bused in from Harlem and they were very mean spirited. Some had 'chips' on their shoulders. They surrounded us like vultures for the kill, and began blowing cigarette smoke in our faces. I stood up to them, and at first they thought I was a boy due to my short hair and skinny frame.

"Hey Boy, you better watch out, I'll smack your face silly," said one rangy looking black kid.

"I'm a girl," I said, crossing my arms like an Indian warrior.

"Well Whitey, these are our seats, so get going," she said, coming right up into my face. I could smell her breath and body odor. Her friends, also all black, began taunting us. They even tried to stick my brother with a fork, but the pizza place owner, a portly Italian man, chased them away and gave us free pizza slices and soda. He liked how I stood up to them.

"I will ban them from here," he said to me with a slight Italian accent. "I am proud how you stood up for yourself little boy!"

"I'm a girl," I said again.

"Whatever you are, you are brave to stand up to those people."

My brother and I would come into the pizza place for a slice and a Coke all the time, up until we left for summer camp. After that, I longed to be going to the rich kid's school, yearned to just tell them I was not bad, I wanted to be their friend, but they never ever looked at me square in the eyes. None of the children who lived in our apartment building gave us two cents. They passed us in the hallways and lobbies of the elegant building looking away, some snickering at my older brothers, myself and my younger sister.

It was my fingers, and my strange appearance and clothing and hyper activity, it might have been different. Some of my fingers were crooked, the pinkie and ring fingers, and I was totally unaware of it, so didn't hide it, but rather was just myself. I was loud, talking, asking questions, dressed in whatever my mother wanted until I realized one year at the end of 8th grade that I had to change things.

I'd met a nice Puerto Rican girl Bunny Tamlyn, who took me to Saks and got me my first training bra and new wardrobe with my mother's blessings. That was at the end of 8th grade. We took photos in the photo booth and I looked pretty good. I gaze at old photos of me in that classroom and marvel at my new outfits, and oh, those platform shoes!

I can still hear this fat black kid Chris Brooker's high pitched voice yelling, "Ohhhh,. I can see her titties," as I looked down to see my nylon blue flowered shirt unbuttoned and my training bra showing. I was becoming extremely self-conscious and embarrassed to be rich. So I tried to hide it by the end of 8th grade at the tough NYC school.

Once we were reading Great Expectations and someone made reference to a maid that the older woman in the story had. then discussion quickly filtered to the two maids that we had at our apartment Gemma and her sister Maggie, two girls from the West Indies. They were so kind, so gentle and were good with us kids. We loved them and if not for them, we might have ended up bitter for our lot in life.

I remember putting my head on my desk and covering it with my arms, like I didn't hear them. And the kids would say, "Oh, look she's turning red again!" One boy even wished allowed, "Gee, can I get a butler?" It was humiliating to be singled out, even if we were wealthy at that time. A cute long haired Spanish kid, Willie Navarro, asked, "Hey, can we get a barmaid at my house?"

More than a few lucky kids when we did live at the elegant apartment building on First Avenue did see it first hand back then. They were in awe, especially when I got to meet Miss USA and Miss Universe and had them call my best friend Bunny. Bunny could not believe it and told everyone in school the next day, but many said it was probably my mother disguising her voice as the famous beauties. But it was real; we had met every Miss Universe since 1967, when we moved to NYC.

PART TWO WE'RE ON THE MOVE...

CHAPTER 4 – TIME GROWS SHORT IN NYC

When we finally moved from the wonderful apartment in NYC to the little town of Caroltown, there was enough room for us to have separate bedrooms. The house on the bay was very large. In fact, it was like 3 houses in one and had a few acres of land around it. There was a dock and beachfront, along with a wonderful front and back yard. But even better, something my father loved: A standard sized flagpole and a fish pond/bird bath. He also hired a gardener named Freddie Allen who used to tell dirty jokes and had a big sign in his truck that read "No Friggin' in the Riggin'!

Although my mother and father had decided to really tighten up with money and charging things, they still began showering my sister with clothes, jewelry and accessories, things they couldn't afford, but gave her gladly.

My mother my younger sister "transferred", as I was left floundering and wondering where I would head and do with my creative flair that was noticed in 6th grade.

When I asked about my clothes, I was told, "You'll ruin it. Your sister takes care of her things. You throw all your stuff on the floor and roll it up into a ball," said my mother.

Or, "Your sister won't break that necklace," said my dad. "Or have you forgotten when you took a bite out of your mother's fine $100 a glass crystal?"

After we moved to Caroltown, my sister wanted her own bedroom by the first year we lived there. I resisted, cried, begged her, but to no avail. She moved out and across the hall from me, clothes, dolls, jewelry and all. But then after my tears dried, I actually liked it. I had more space, my space, she had hers and I had mine. My father came up and talked to me quietly, making me understand what was going on, that we were growing up to be beautiful, smart women, so it was time.

Sis and I drifted, but sometimes we would sleep in each other’s rooms, and one night we were in my room watching the old TV series "Three's Company" with John Ritter and Suzanne Somers! Sister wanted her hair in a 'Dorothy Hamill' the style of bone straight with "wings", so I started to blow dry her hair and make it bone straight and with wings. My dad burst in and started yelling at us to stop. He was dead set against us using the hair dryer, maybe some childhood thing that happened to him.

Just as I had learned that the reason we never got the humongous pool and cabana rooms opened and running was because that is how my mother got Polio, by swimming in a pool at her summer camp. She was just 15 years old and had to be sent home and right into an 'iron lung', so I think she forbade my father from fixing up the pool area, it was fenced off.

And possibly dad had his fears, and had saved both me and my sister from pool drownings and he may have blocked it too, but wanted it at the time, for my mom to be happy about the move from NYC to that small town.

It was supposed to be downsizing, but soon mother could not resist, and insisted on the same luxuries as she'd become accustom too at the UN Plaza, if not more. She ran up the bills and groceries, but they still held the front lines intact, even dispensing 3 maid's salaries, utilities in the giant home, and summer camps for their kids.

They even had a few parties and functions, the mayor of the city landing his helicopter on our lawn, and other party favors. I remember that year I was bent on being in as many photos as possible, and I was, but most of them are probably destroyed by my mother, either burned, cut or thrown away, scratched out in anger and mental turmoil!

When we moved, and my sister got her own room, we id drift a bit, but not totally. She would rarely mingle her friends with my friends like in the past, unless it was under extreme protest, especially when she became a magician's assistant and was making money doing shows with this cool guy she met at her acting school. I wanted to know this magician, I wanted him to make me up and joke with me about my mother. I have audio tapes of him imitating my mother to a tee. He also showed me all the tricks, including how they sawed a woman in half and made someone disappear.

My sister let me in sometimes, but not on the norm, especially when the neighbor boy at the time, fell in love with her after we'd moved to another area of town when my dad committed suicide. The kid called her "Beages" her favorite dog The Beagle! Donny followed her around like a puppy. He loved her, adored her, and hung on her every word.

And, not to get off track here, but around that same time, I bought a motor cycle from a rebel named Cliff Jay who sold me his XR 75 mother bike for 290 bucks. It was a life changing thing I almost lost out on. This was all after my dad left us. Back to the story...

WEST VIRGINIA HERE I COME - COLLEGE YEARS

At first, when I came out to CA after graduating 1 year early from a college in, of all places, West Virginia, I came straight out here. My father had been dead for many years, easily committing suicide, trying 4 times and finally succeeding.

After he died, my mother began fooling around with our trustee of a big money inheritance that he was actually stealing from. I'll admit that I did pretty well in those days with the lawyer, a hot shot, good looking, smart attorney who my sister had a huge crush on. I would have to drive to his office with a list and a reason as to why I needed money for this or that, and usually I got what I wanted because it most always had to do with my college education and future.

He even once flew his Cessna up to West Virginia to fetch me for Thanksgiving one year, which was a real treat. I felt important, supported and actually loved back then by the family. How could I have known that when I left finally for college out of state that my sister would drop off the face of my world for many years after? She actually had not been the same since my father had committed suicide and was very distant and actually a little cold.

I'd call from my dorm room to tell her how great college was, and she'd put me on hold during my excited mid-sentence about my new cute college boyfriend Mike, who was popular, cute and lived on the 6th floor of the boys dorm dubbed "The Sixth Floor Burnouts!"

My years at school in West Virginia were very interesting and fun most of the time. When I first got there I was put with a very strange girl named Sara Botwin from Maryland. She was 6 foot 1, chubby and wore a black page boy haircut and a size 26 plus dress, Size 14 wide shoes and was a bit "challenged".

For once in my life I was not the one who was the weirdo, the outcast or the bullied one! In fact, after a few weeks at the cute little college, people were amazed at how my staying power was with Sara. She was very odd. She had a childlike personality and seemed very sheltered. Her dad was a county judge, and she had a brother who owned his own pig farm.

But she was a doll. She would rub my back, soothe my fears and tell me about her family's trip to Russia, which at that time was called "The Iron Curtain" still. She also would on occasion cook me breakfast in our dorm room and then watch her soap opera General Hospital without fail. Everyone made fun of Sara, and it was actually a nice change for me. For years I'd been bullied and picked on at schools, summer camps, and youth centers. This was the first place I'd ever been to where I could really be myself and not have to worry.

Once you get to college, they either ignore you or just didn’t mention it if you were weird or “off”. But people did gossip about Sara and her weird ways. Some seemed in awe of how I stayed with Sara the whole semester and the second one too. I felt so cool saying she was no big deal and actually was a nice girl and didn't steal from me, or talk behind my back, or even get angry. She took phone messages for me, ran errands for me, even called the professor one day when I was ill, to say I would not be in class.

My mother began writing me almost daily and sending me care packages of gourmet candy, clothes, books, art supplies and even sometimes some extra cash. We spoke a lot over the phone and she was proud that I was in college even though she'd hidden most of the other acceptance letters I'd gotten from better schools like Pepperdine University, Brigham Young University in Utah, UCLA in Los Angeles, and even University of Georgia. But she didn't want me going to those schools, maybe due to the fact that the trust fund dad left was starting to diminish a bit and she wanted that money for herself. (Add typing sign soon!)

So there I was at College. It was a lot of fun. I was rarely depressed, maybe just a hand full of times throughout my 3 years there. My first semester was wild, party time and staying up late, running around with a few guys. First I met a football player named David Lee. Just went to his room and rubbed against each other and made out. Had my first orgasm at that college that night. The next day I saw David Lee in the lunchroom. I sat down with him, but he didn't seem to know me, or pretended not to know me. He looked at me and said he had to go. That was my first relationship.

Next came Mike Murphy, a very fun loving, sweet, blond, blue eyed sophomore. I had met him once when I went up to the Sixth Floor Burn outs with Amy, another girl in my dorm who loved to party too.

There was something very free, fun and exciting about being with the guys on the Sixth floor who had reputations of wild behavior and heavy partying. I had smoked pot when I was home with friends, so it was no different at this place. I was seeing Mike daily and spending nights with him in his room. He lived on the end room to the far of the hallway.

We never had sex, just everything else. I was still a virgin, believe it or not, and I was afraid to have him make love to me. So we played sex games and put orange marmalade on us and licked it off. We had some great laughs and stayed up late into the night smoking weed and drinking beer. He took me to a few social dances and we hung out as a couple with the other guys on the floor. All seemed to be going very well with us, and he even had a cool motorcycle, which at that time I loved.

Now I realize Mike liked me because I didn't have sex with him, and that released him of the guilt of trying to explain it to his girlfriend back home, who even as he was saying he could not bring me to the dance, was driving up at that moment, so I had to go back to my own room. I fell in to the arms of Sara, my kooky roommate, and she soothed my tears and rubbed my shoulders and back and even ran out and bought me my favorite ... A turkey Sandwich, chips, a Coke and a cheese cake from the local deli. I dried my tears and ate my food. "Thanks Sara, you are so sweet!"

"Oh don't worry, it's my pleasure, you've been so nice to me," she admitted.

So I got wiser with Mike. We had dated for about 2 months and I was expecting him to ask me to the Fall Dance, but he didn't. That's when he admitted to me one evening that he had a girlfriend at home who was coming to see him that weekend. But now that I am older and wiser, I realized that because of my open and slightly wild personality, I may have come off as an easy lay, or a freaky chick that would give you a hand job any day of the week.

Of course, back then I didn't realize this yet. Out of the blue, this other guy named Steve Madden right from West Virginia, a good ol' boy, showed interest in me. He was tall and cute and reminded of one of the characters on the TV show "Dallas". He lived two doors down from Mike and I decided I'd try him.

In fact, in my hanging around on the Sixth Floor of the boys dorm, I had met many guys, and given them nicknames (not hand jobs) from the TV show M*A*S*H. At the time, it seemed very funny. They seemed to like it. And would usually play along as I sat in Pete Foder's room.

Pete was the party guy. He had beer bottles lined up across the window sill and on the shelves and many huge colorful bongs to smoke weed. He had a great stereo system and was a DJ at the school so had a record collection too. Everyone hung in his room and partied all nightI also knew other guys on that floor who were not datable.

Chris Zintini and his roommate played guitar and bass and I used to go in there and jam with them. Chris and I would just joke around and have fun like kids. It was never sexual with those guys.

Meanwhile, I started dating Steve Maddox. He took me to a nice restaurant and brought me to his home in Parkersburg. This kid was rich. His dad was a big man and reminded me of a hunter and sportsman. His mother was rich looking and had a Southern Belle look about her. We went to this restaurant in Ohio and ate frog legs then made out the whole time back to the college as he drove with me laying on his lap.

Steve's roommate was named Neil and he actually worked at this restaurant in Clarksburg and would bring back dinners, bread and sides of beef. We'd chow down on ribs and chug down Moosehead Beer and get high and talk and have lots of laughs. Steve was just as attentive if not more attentive than Mike had been. He was also good looking in a West Virginian kind of way, a blue blood rich kid. And he was taking me to the fall dance.

I sat on his bed, which they'd fashioned into lofts, so that they could fit in couches and sofas and a fridge, stereo with huge speakers blasting Charlie Daniels "Devil in Georgia" which was Steve's favorite song. He played it a lot, as well as other Southern Rock bands. In fact, I had been greatly influenced by the music floating around The Sixth Floor Burnouts hallway. And it was becoming like second nature for me to run over there after dinner and go from room to room chatting with the guys. Especially Chris Zintini and his bass playing cutie pie roomie, because we would turn up the music and they'd let me play the instruments and taught me chords.

I'd sometimes be with a few other girls ... Louis, Candy and another party lady named Amy, who lived on my floor. In fact, when I felt Mike pulling away from me, I thought perhaps he was fooling around with Candy, so I sat there with them and made up a dream I really didn't have. I said I dreamt that I was looking across from Hoffiemer Girls Dorm from my own dorm room window and saw Candy floating up to the 6th floor and go into Mike's room. We all laughed, but he hadn't been, but I picked up something with him. And in the end I did find out it was his old girlfriend from his hometown who was coming to visit him. He'd never told me about her, and I assumed he was not attached.

When I found out it was indeed his old girlfriend, I just floated over to Steve. But I still partied in Pete's room with everyone, and still hung with lots of other guys as friends. I had a schedule and loved making my rounds. I felt so free and so happy that these kids were not bullying me or calling me a sleaze or other names I was called in high school.

But from all the partying and boy hopping I'd been doing, I became rundown and got another tonsil infection that i'd picked up the past summer at the Indian camp I went to in Montana.I started feeling tired, fatigued, achy and ill right before Thanksgiving break. Sara had gone home a few days earlier and I was alone in our dorm room. At that stage I had broken up with Steve Maddox and dated a few more guys that lingered around the Boys Sixth Floor dorm. Then I started to hang around Pete's room. There was always a party going on there, and always free weed and beer. We partied our butts off, me for the very first time.

I also had met a real loser named John McDonald who the Sixth Floor Burnouts called "The General". He was like the figure head king of the floor, since he'd been there longer than the others had. I started to hang around his room, and Chris' to jam and laugh about some retard that Chris coaxed into drinking bong water.

One evening I was hanging out in John's room. The guy was not handsome. He was short, bulky and had a dandruff problem to the max. But he was like a father figure and I could tell he was picked on in high school just like I was.

He was actually on the football team but had been spending most of the games on the bench. We became very friendly. Friendly enough for him to invite me over to his parent's house for dinner. They lived way in the sticks over in Weston, West Virginia. On our way into the quaint home I spotted an old Honda Enduro propped up against the garage.

"Oh that's my old dirt bike. It don't run," said John.

"Wow, I bet I can get this going. I'd love to try," I said excitedly.

John agreed. "I can get my dad to drive it up to the college for ya', and if'in you can git' it runnin', then it's yours to keep," he offered sweetly, bowing gracefully. At that moment I felt like a princess given a white horse!

I was very excited and couldn't contain myself. I jumped into his arms and hugged him tightly. My ample breasts pressed against his football jacket. He laughed nervously. It was obvious that he had a huge crush on me and wanted me to have the dirt bike. I'm sure he imagined my butt sitting on it as it vibrated down the street. But our relationship was not sexual, nor were many of my other "boy" pals.

"Oh General, thanks," I said, calling him by his Sixth Floor nickname. They all had nicknames. It was a club.

So he got his dad to load the cycle up on the flatbed truck and drive it straight to a motor cycle shop near our college. I had to wait a few days, but I got the bike back to the college and brought it right up to my dorm room. Sara was in awe over it. Her tall, robust frame walked around it and she examined it all cleaned up and shiny. "But why do you have it up here in our room?" She asked.

"I don't have a lock for it, and I just feel more secure, it's only going to be for 2 days and besides, you're going home on the 15th right?

"Oh, I don't mind the bike. You are so funny with these things," she said, smiling and rearranging the room for more space to accommodate the bike. I made her sit on it and pushed her back and forth. I headed for the hallway. "Oh, no don't!" She screamed. But it was too late, I pushed her on the bike down the hallway all the way to the elevators. She was laughing like a little child and the R.A. heard the commotion and came out to investigate. "Hey, does the dean know you have that motorcycle? It doesn't look registered," she asked.

"I will get it licensed, I just got it."

"Well get it out of the hallway, please," she said. She knew I didn't mean to be unruly. She'd learned how I was, just the last of a long line of free spirits to pass through the walls of Hoffiemer Hall. Other girls peeked out and laughed at us, seeing Sara on the motorcycle. "Way to do girl, ride easy," they would scream. I was really well liked, no one picked on me, at least not in public! A few days later I started to feel ill. Just listless and un-hungry and unwell. I looked tired and drawn. I rode my cycle thinking it would revive me in the chilly dry air.

It was at that moment as I reached the top of the dirt road leading up to the stables where girls at college housed their horses, that I spotted Mike. He rose up beside me on his Yamaha 250, a huge smile planted on his face. We rode together for around the winding roads above the college, which was situated in a lush, grassy valley. We smiled at each other in the cold brisk air that sort of revived me for a bit, putting splashes of rosy cheeked color on my pale features.

We finally stopped to talk. Both of us were out of breath, me more so. The chilly air made smoke come out of our mouths as we chatted, putting the bikes in neutral.

"You okay, you don't look so good, Kid," he said worriedly. His cute blond hair and blue eyes seemed to sway in the cool air, with a hint of a nip of winter.

"I'm okay," I lied. He smiled and headed back down the hill. “Okay Kiddo, have a nice holiday,” he said. Then, as if he felt guilty he unloaded, “Hey, really, I wanted to say sorry for doing that to you, you know, not taking you to the Fall dance because of Lyn,” he admitted. “I nodded and said, “It’s okay, we learn and forgive, have a great holiday Mike, see you next year!”

He smiled at me one of his best model types and drove on down to his dorm, as I went back to mine. I had found a broken lock and tried to make it look like it was locked on my bike. I went up to my room. Sara had left 2 days ago. I was feeling really awful, like a ton of bricks fell on me. I thought maybe a nice hot bath would be in order and I was the only one on the floor that night besides the R.A. who had already retired to her room for the night. She rarely ventured out if it wasn't an absolute emergency.

I sat in the tub and took two Tylenol. I went back to my room after laying in the tub 10 minutes. I could tell I had a temperature, and my throat was getting a bit raw. It felt like the same virus I had gotten a few times in August, usually at a summer camp. I got it when I went to Maine, Vermont and Montana, also when I first came out to California and attended USC; I got the same throat infection again. Now I was getting it once more. I recognized the symptoms but ignored it as the Tylenol took effect masking my sick body.

Low and behold when I got back to the room Pete was at the door like a little puppy dog. He kind of looked like one too, with his long blond stringy hair and little beaver eyes. His voice was low and raspy like he was making love to you or whispering a secret.

But again, I was never really sexual with Pete either. He was like a good friend, but a guy. In fact, I had the distinct impression he also had a steady gal back home waiting for him and that’s why he may have felt comfortable with me. I knew I was getting a rep of one that doesn't give it up, but fools around, no sex, but just about everything else, and to a lot of boys in that college that could mean comfort and no guilty consciences.

I let him in and he set up a mini bar and bong station on Sara's empty night table. He stripped down to his underwear and laid on my bed listening to Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He didn't try to jump my bones, I told him I was not feeling good. He rubbed my back slowly and easily, only stopping to take a hefty bong hit and cough then continued rubbing me from head to toe. I wore underwear and tee shirt, which was fine with him. I fell asleep and he shut out the light and did the same.

The next morning I felt like crap. But I took 2 more aspirin, took another shower. I dressed in my blue jeans, my blue velour shirt, necklaces, and jean jacket where I'd beaded an Indian Design called "Morning Moon". I had nice blue pumps and had my bags ready. Pete drove me to the airport and kissed me goodbye. He was sweet. He was nice to me and didn't take advantage of me as maybe some of the other guys might have. He and The General were my angels, but Chris Zintini was a riot and always got me laughing. I looked forward to the new semester.

I got home to where my family still lived, in a house next door to the old house we lived at on the bay. My brothers picked me up. The first thing my older brother said to me was, "You look tired, you okay?" By the way, it was the same house being built years before where I took a poop to freak out the neighborhood boys who still hung with my sister, but with new kids too.

"Yeah, just a cold," I said, grabbing my bag and handing it to my other brother. We made our way slowly to the door and they drove me to our nice house. My mom was there, but not my sister curiously. I showered still feeling very achy. I got in one of my old night gowns and sat on my familiar bed in my little bedroom on Strawhill Drive in the same town as always, even after all that had happened.

But I loved my blue wall to wall soft rug and my feet sunk into it. I opened my packages from an Indian trading post I'd ordered beads and American Indian crafts from. I loved all the colored beads and the things I bought there. I had gone to Montana to an Indian camp and discovered it there and kept the address, promising the Indian lady there that I would order, which I did.

But I felt so horrible by evening that I lost interest in starting a new headband, and I picked at my food Mom had made me her standard roasted chicken, string beans, baked potato and soda and brought it up to my bedroom, as I sat in the dark watching television. It was nice to have more than 2 snowy channels. It was great to have my mom make my dinner and bring it up to me. I will never forget that moment as she set the tray down, smiling at me and putting her delicate manicured hand on my head and rubbed my face lovingly.

"I'm very glad you're home," she said honestly. She sat on my plush bed. "We all love and miss you very much, you know that?"

"Oh, of course, Mom," I said, feeling absolutely sick from the trip. Being back in my own bedroom made me feel the symptoms of 'unwell' more pronounced. But I didn't let on to my mother yet. I was sort of afraid. I didn't like when she screamed at me out of love, that I'd not taken good care of myself. I just didn't have the energy to argue, so I just thought I'd sleep this off.

About 2 hours later, I got up and walked into my mom's room where she was talking to our lawyer who handled our estate and legal things since my father had died. At that time, I was on great terms with him. My brothers sat in a love seat near the big picture windows. The room was large and well furnished. I crawled into the big bed and under the covers. I had just showered and put on a fresh nightgown. As she talked to Don the attorney, she started rubbing my head and stopped in mid-sentence.

"Oh my God, you're burning up, Darling!" She was worried and spoke into the phone. "Don, she's burning up with fever. She's not well." Mom turned to me. I liked the feeling of her cool white sheets as they caressed my heated body.

"Why didn't you tell me? Get her some orange juice and aspirins will you," she said to my older brother. I was brought the juice and drank and took the Tylenol. My mother called our doctor and made an appointment for the very next day, first thing.

"I send you away to college and you come home sick, now what is that? I knew you should have stayed here and just gone to Carrington College. Why did you have to go so far way?"

I had no answer.

The next morning we drove to the doctors and I was diagnosed with Strep throat, and given antibiotics. That morning I had carried on due to my worsening condition and had hit my wrist against my night table leaving a horrid bruise.

When they took my blood I fainted and threw up all over the floor of the clinic. But once I started taking the pills that evening, by the next morning I was feeling a bit better. I took the medicine throughout the day and our housekeeper made me my meals and brought them to me on a silver tray. I stayed in bed while life went around me and got into watching Yogi Bear and The Flintstones. I remember when my appetite came back I pretended I was Yogi stealing food in the kitchen as I slowly made my lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips with chocolate milk and juice!

My sister had finally showed up and came running in my room. "Sick again hey," she joked. That was me, always ill with something. She looked older, prettier and had filled out nicely. She wore great clothes, matching jewelry and had accessorized to the max. She wore makeup and her hair was in style. She smelled fresh light linen and seemed very confident. We were all in for a few more surprises that end of year.

I would not return to College over Christmas or New Years, but return around January 15th. I got them to send me my midterm tests and took them at the library in town. My older brother drove me back and forth; I met with our lawyer, felt so much better and finished with the antibiotics, which worked like a charm. I spent the last half of my time at home partying with my sister's friends. Douglas and Kent were there again after us not being in that neighborhood for a few years, as well as a few new faces. Jon and Mitch, two younger fellas. And Norwell, who had a huge crush on my sister. They had made a party cellar downstairs.

I hung a sheet up and we all began writing on it. All sorts of stuff. We partied in there undisturbed. It was fun, except when Jon or Mitch teased me about something. Teasing is infectious.

But the saddest thing I noticed was that all the beer cans my sister and I collected together were all smashed on the floor of the cellar as if she didn't give a damn anymore, now that I'd left her for college far away. She allowed the boys to destroy the one thing our father actually enjoyed too before he died. He even helped us set up the 400+ beer cans of all shapes, sizes and years in our new home after he lost his business.

"So what happened to the beer cans?" I asked my sister.

"They destroyed it when I went upstairs," she said blandly. "It couldn't be helped. How can you stop them," she said, pointing to the 5 boys sitting around the cellar they had decorated for partying.

I felt very sad looking at the cans flattened around the cellar. Doug saw my face and took one and threw it far to the end of the room. It was a rare cone top from the early 1950's I had found buried in a dump at a Montana Summer camp last summer.

"When I left, you seemed to change," I said to my sister sadly. I felt like crying. "Remember what I said to you after I graduated?" I asked her. She seemed distant and remote in all her popularity with the boys.

That's when Mitch made a crack about me. "Oh, yea, I remember when you got up and turned to the crowd and no one clapped," he laughed. So did Jon.

"Fuck off," I said, walking back upstairs and into my room, slamming the door behind me.

Finally, I was deemed well enough to go back to college. I was all packed. At the airport my mother made the doctor come with them. He was a family friend. Dr. Sloan examined me right there at the gate. Other passengers looked on curiously. But he said I was tip top. So I hugged my mom, brothers and even Dr. Sloan. My mom began crying and clung to the handsome doctor. I got on the plane and returned to college, taking a taxi to the dorms. It was great being back. School had already started and I noticed right off that the motorcycle was gone.

"I missed you!" Sara was there in the room waiting for me.

"Hey Sara," I said, hugging the big woman. She smelled like crayons and deodorant. "I figured the motorcycle would be gone."

"Oh, sorry about that. Why?"

"I left it in the middle of the street! I was so ill. I just put it right in the middle of the street," I said pointing out the window. "I half expected it to be here!"

"We were worried about you," she said, but she was talking about herself. Others did come in and welcome me back. In fact, a little party developed in my room. It was good to be back, but I broke up the party early, sent friends out. We went to bed early and talked in the darkness. She told me about her time, I put her mind at ease and said I'd taken all my exams at home. She seemed relieved. I took two sleeping capsules, put in my earplugs and fell straight asleep.

This is the end of Trilogy Book Memoir #1. The 2nd one will be published in one month. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of this family and what happens when they go from the ritzy lower east side of New York to a small town in the country!

So much more, but telling this in a compact form, so stay tuned for BOOK II coming in about one month!

BOOK II – A Private Novel – BULLIES OF CAROLTOWN A TRUE NOVEL PART II

I remember my father, how we related, how I could ask him any question and he’d have some rational answer. We were close. I think that might have also contributed to the rift between my mother and me. It seemed to always be there, whether I was 5 or 50!

And my mother, in the good days, when she did have her little nest eggs, she would send me wonderful packages of candy, toys, cards and letters, neatly written, neatly packed, smelling of Chanel #5, her signature all over it. I enjoyed it even at summer camp when she’d send books, art sets and other fun creative gifts. When the other kids saw all of it, they may have become jealous and therefore cut in with bullying and teasing.

I’m sure my own father meant well when he sent my sister, me and our counselors samples of his underwear line. When the director of the camp found out, he said, “If your father gives gifts to your counselors, why not the whole camp?”

A few days later there was a strange, almost strangled announcement before the usual 78 RPM record of “Call to Soup”. “Attention campers and counselors, as you come to breakfast please accept the gift of a few pair of new underwear. Thank you, and enjoy!”

It didn’t sound happy or inviting, almost sneering and brusque. Everyone knew who it was from, and the two sisters whose father he was. One was pretty, popular and perky; the other, whiny, wondering and weird.

The girls and their counselors clutched at the box pulling out dozens and dozens of the strange looking “box” underwear with no cotton crotch. No one understood that at all. These were samples, not the real deal, and many; in fact, most of the wealthy girls knew what they were.

“Your dad is weird, like you,” said one tomboyish camper everyone nicknamed Sam. “I’m not wearing these,” she taunted as she held up the ugly, weaved briefs that were obviously “samples” of the real product. He was only trying to show up the director.

The only thing it caused for me was the teasing and bullying slightly increased. I didn’t know what to do that summer. I was coming out of puberty and was very vulnerable and didn’t know what to say or do, so I said anything that came to my mind, so as not to feel the horrid pain of being an outcast again. Used and pushed around just because I or my parents may have been just a bit strange. At that time, I could not see why or how, so I just did what I thought was right or wrong, sort of hands on training! I realized there must be something wrong!

That same summer we were given names picked from a hat of a secret sister camper that you’d make toys and give gifts to for a week, and at the end of the week you’d reveal yourself and give that person a wonderful gift during a huge dinner and ceremony.

Most campers made their own, their parents packing away little sewing kits, felt strips, glue, scissors and glitter to make a doll or friendship pillow. Some gave away their candy, by saving it up until the end of the week, then offering it all to the secret sister they’d been showering gifts to all week.

There was a lot of jealousy toward the end of the game that the director and his staff figured would be a good way to learn to give and take. I did my best in my haphazard ‘hands on way.

My first secret sister was a shy girl 3 years older than my 9. I noticed she had bright red long hair and lots of little freckles. All I could think about was that long, lush red straight hair, so I gave her my shampoo given to me by my mother when we left for camp 6 weeks earlier. I took the shampoo, liking the design and rubber feel to it, and buried it in clean socks and wrapped it up with shoe strings from my boat shoe sneakers.

I went to her bunk and put the first gift on her bed while she was out and left to go to my own activities for the day. I quickly scribbled her name with a big red marker hanging on the wall on an old newspaper I found in the garbage near her bed, and then left the cabin and went about my business.

Later, toward evening I found myself all alone down at the boathouse. They said they were having a huge meeting there and for me to go there before dinner and sit and wait. So I did that. I sat outside the old boathouse drawing in the sand and playing with the little rocks and pebbles littering the porch. I wondered why I was all alone, not even my sister or best friend Pam were around.

I was getting hungry and could smell roast beef and potatoes cooking, and couldn’t wait to have my slice of meat and grape “bug juice” as they called the heavily sugared punch everyone loved there.

Suddenly I heard a big commotion at my secret sister’s bunk. I ran up the gangway of the waterfront when I heard someone screaming and crying and carrying on. I ran down the row of cabins which ranged from the little kids in Cabin 2, all the way up to Cabin 12, the C.I.T.’s. But it seemed that the whole camp was surrounding bunk 5, where my secret sister lived.

I slowly came forward, trying to blend in. At first I did, but then the counselors were bunched together and trying to calm down the red headed girl. Everyone was either trying to help or just staring blindly like zombies until some little girl noticed me there.

“There you are,” she said, pointing at me. The whole group turned and stared at me, including the director, a portly, fully beaded, dark haired man who ran the camp the way he saw fit.

“Come over here now,” he commanded. I came forward, not really understanding yet what had happened. I left her a gift, thinking she would like the shampoo since her hair was so long and straight. My mother had specifically told me (lied) that this shampoo was for girls with straight hair and that it would make my own curly mass of tight curls straight as a ruler, but it didn’t, so I stopped using it and got Prell Shampoo at the Camp store.

I didn’t mean to upset anyone. But it would seem I had upset her and the rest of the camp. If my mother bought it, I knew it was expensive and not ordinary shampoo, so I figured the girl would see it and like it. It had the total opposite effect on her.

My counselor Annie asked, “Why did you give Joan Stein that Anti Dandruff shampoo?” She had her arms crossed, looking angry and questionable as she stared me down. “It wasn’t a very nice way to show her your friendship, why did you do that? Weren’t you making things in the art shack to give to her?”

“Yes, but the first thing I thought of was to give her the shampoo, while I finished the other gifts,” I cried, not believing I could start such a ruckus single-handed. But I had, and all because of a shampoo bottle I had mistaken for something super expensive and different. How did I know it was for dandruff? Why would my mom pack Head and Shoulders Dandruff Shampoo in my trunk? I didn’t have dandruff, I just wanted a shampoo that a person with straight hair used, and that’s what I was told. I explained it all to them, but looked at Annie the whole time.

“I didn’t know it was for dandruff, and I am very sorry,” I cried loudly and impishly. “My mom is friends with the President of Bloomingdales and told me girls with really pretty long hair use this shampoo, so that’s what I thought, honestly!” I was pleading and I think they believed me.

“You should have thought of that when you did such a thing,” said the director.

Even my own sister was hiding in the back of the older kids, not wanting to be associated with me. I felt alone and scared. Why did I do that? I was trying to be nice, but a bit lazy for not making my gifts beforehand like the others had. I was aghast and had nothing to say for myself except to cry heavily, rolling up into a little ball on the ground and going into a weird ‘quiet tantrum’. “I didn’t mean it, I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t!”

“Yeah, that’s it, cry like you always do, cry, cry, cry,” said one girl in my cabin, a fat dark haired girl. “You sure are dumb,” said the girl. She walked away in disgust as did many others. When the crowd cleared, it was just my counselor and the director and his daughter.

“Now listen to me, you will go back to your cabin and make that girl a gift and present it to her after dinner, so get going and make something,” said the director. “I mean it! What were you thinking? What’s wrong with you?”

“I didn’t realize I did anything wrong. She has long hair and I just thought a bottle of shampoo would be a nice gift so she won’t have to buy it in the canteen,” I said truthfully. Annie knew me well. She could tell I was not lying, but the rest of the camp didn’t see the way

Annie did. She was one of the special ones. I was glad she was my counselor. This was my 3rd summer and my sister’s first summer at the camp in Maine. It was a new activity the director had instated for the last 2 weeks of camp.

It was a wonderful camp, well built, well placed and lots of things to do. I had already climbed a big mountain, went on a canoe trip and camped out, sleeping in a sleeping bag. What set me apart in that arena was that all my camping gear was from Bloomingdales and was white. My sleeping bag, canteen, blankets, bags and even my knapsack too. It was such a stand out that it screamed “freak alert” to everyone that saw it. I was teased about it, even years and years later when I talked to Annie, she remembered me for my white sleeping bag.

“I’ll help you,” said Annie. She was so good, so together and so tall. She also had long hair, but her locks were blond, not red. And Annie had deep, friendly blue eyes, not dark brown ones that looked sort of unfriendly and downcast.

Why couldn’t they have paired me with Annie? So many “whys” and “what’s”. But I’d learn in that “hands on way I had” and get over this new incident.

The director always called trouble “incidents” and tried to teach us at the same time we may be punished. Annie knew I didn’t do this on purpose and later, after she saw me sewing my felt and other art materials, then went to the girl and to the director and totally explained what happened, and the misunderstanding. By the time Annie was finished, all was forgiven and everyone realized I meant well. I didn’t even have dandruff and neither did the red head.

She actually smiled at me when after dinner I gave her a little Indian doll I had made for her. It was very flimsy at best, but she seemed to like it and that showed her I meant it when she hugged me and gave me a wet kiss, then ran back to her cabin.

On the last day of camp I was walking with Pam, another outcast tomboy type whom I met in West Hampton the summer before when our family stayed at the Bath & Tennis Club. My sister, brothers and I had our own little set of rooms, and my parents were downstairs a few doors down. It was the first time I’d ever had room service and had a chance to have the wonderful buttered toast, eggs and bacon all laid out like a king’s feast. The orange juice was just tart and sweet enough to know we were being pampered.

Pam's family had moored their 75 foot sailing boat near by at the Marina near our hotel. We were fishing for blowfish, when I met Pam.

Pam and I were walking behind the cabins when I passed #5. “Hey, here’s your ‘secret sister’s’ cabin,” said Pam. “Boy, that was a mess hey?”

“How did I know? She’s so strange and quiet and I just got the wrong idea!”

“Yeah, right, you say that, but a lot of kids think you are smarter than you act and you did it for attention. It did cause a ruckus kiddo,” said Pam.

“Hey, that’s not fair, I told you I didn’t realize it was for dandruff. My mom paid a lot of money for it, so I thought the girl Joanie would know!”

“Joanie?”

“She said I could call her that, and I’m her friend now, she understands!”

“Then why is your doll you made her in the garbage?” Pam pointed at the green trash container with trash from the last day of camp. There was the doll I’d made for ‘Red’ sitting on top of it all.

“Wow, I can’t believe her,” I said grabbing the doll from the garbage. “Come on, hurry, run,” I said to my sidekick.

“What are you going to do?” asked Pam as she ran with me at an even pace just catching the red headed girl’s bus.

“Hey, hey,” I yelled to the girl as she was hugging her cabin mates and getting on the bus. She saw me and pretended she didn’t hear me and got on the bus. I chased after her and even got on the bus and said, “You forgot my doll I made, Secret Sister!” I handed her the doll. She had a look of a ‘deer caught in headlights’ as I backed away smiling knowingly.

“Ohhhh, thanks, where did you find it?” she asking innocently.

“Ummm, in the garbage behind your cabin,” Pam answer for me. We both tried to keep straight faces, and I had to pinch my inside cheeks tight not to break the looks we gave her.

“I was looking all over for it!” she lied, turning all sorts of red colors, almost hiding her millions of freckles. And she had acne too, which looked like they were about to bust all over the floor.

Another girl broke into the conversation. “Hey, not another bottle of dandruff shampoo?” she said.

“Oh, yeah, Red’s got dandruff we all knew that, but she was smart enough to give her a hint,” said the other girl pointing at me. Everyone laughed at the senseless joke.

I had just gotten out of the infirmary, having contracted some sort of strange stomach ailment 1 week before camp ended. They had to sing ‘happy birthday’ to me from the dining hall really loud, and I had heard a lot of campers booing and hissing. It hurt me to know they just didn’t understand me, and I don’t think I understood myself, ever. I needed someone, a mentor perhaps.

It was then I decide that when I got back to New York I would start writing letters of introduction to Indian reservations and try to get one of them to take me in. Back then, in the early Seventies, the American Indians didn’t have casinos and resorts, they were poor and some still living in canvas tepees or cabins. I imagined myself running away from home and going there and no one can find me. I used to hide behind the wall in the den where there was large space only a kid could get to at our luxurious apartment and pretend I'd run away.

I’d sit there as I heard my housekeeper, or my sister or mother calling me, and I’d not answer, pretending I didn’t live there, and I was at an Indian reservation in Arizona or Oklahoma, or perhaps as far West as Wallowa Valley with the Nez Perce’s, who bred the most wonderful Appaloosa horses. They would take me in and not tell the authorities where I was. They would love and accept me because I was so into them. And not for money, or fame, but for the shear enjoyment of their culture and ways of life that were surely dying since the days of Sitting Bull, Cochise, Crazy Horse and my favorite Geronimo.

Sometimes at summer camp when the last day was at hand, I’d hide out at the old campground behind the woods and brush of the camp. Counselors, campers, the director and his staff would make it a game to find me, like a game of the Fox and the Hounds! They’d find me, but not after a long search and the bus drivers were getting impatient. They had other camps to pick up and I was holding up the train!

I’d come out and then put on the bus, the only one on the bus to be close to an open window and given a white bag (how appropriate) for car sickness.

Red seems redder in the face than ever when she saw me with the doll. She took the doll as if it had poison on it, thinking I was in the infirmary. “Ahhhh, how do you feel?” she asked.

“I’m better, thank you,” I said quietly.

At that moment the director stomped onto the bus and seemed very agitated. “This is not your bus, what are you doing?”

“She forgot my doll, I’m sorry!”

“Get off this bus now and get ready,” he said.

“I am, I just wanted her to have the doll.”

“Well, she’s got it, now go, go now.”

“Okay, I am going.”

I left and got to my bus and took a seat.

I had mixed feelings. It had been a good summer, I’d even learned to water ski. My counselor Donna stuck by my side as I overcame my fears. She was a good teacher, very patient and kind.

If it had not been the 2nd to last day of camp, and due to my illness I might have learned to ski much earlier, but as had happened was that I learned to ski at the end, so it was too late to give me an achievement award at the wonderful awards dinner they put on every summer. It was the best and entertainment of the whole summer. I always came home very skinny from camp, but the last night I’d over ate and this time they forbid me to eat the tasty meats and fixings. Instead they gave me a bowl of consume soap and some crackers and just a half a cup of bug juice.

Another C.I.T. Nancy was watching me as I ate, as she was told to do, but she made it sort of fun. To distract me, she asked me about the plastic bracelet I found on the beach, which had the words “Patent Pending” stamped into it. I thought about the words and she told me what it meant and we’d joke. It helped me to get over my stomach pains from lack of food.

“Don’t worry,” as they brought her a big tray of food,” “…it’s for your own good, you’ve been sick to your stomach,” she said as she munched her salad and ate her dinner, gravy dripping down her chin.

When she got up to go to the bathroom, I quickly ran to her plate and gobbled down half a piece of roast beef, half a roll and chewed fast. It felt so good to feel it touching my stomach, and I wasn’t getting sick. I also took a hefty sip of her bug juice pitcher on the tray, then cut her desert of chocolate pie in half and ate half and one more sip of the bug juice and I jumped back to my cot. She returned and either pretended she didn’t notice, or just didn’t care.

“You’re a sweet kid,” she said, finishing her meal. “I don’t know how you get in so much trouble, but I get you kiddo!” she weighed in. She was a hippie type and was at Woodstock last summer. She had dreams of hitchhiking and doing her art work as a lot of the counselors did.

BOOK III -- SOMETHING FROM THE VERY BEGINNING WAS DYSFUNCTIONAL

THE CURSE OF MISS CANE – HOW IT BEGAN!

Bad luck, bad genes, bad DNA (a man once said he loved me, but that my DNA scared him!). Even bad timing and bad parenting in many areas; although my parents were wealthy as we grew up. But understand that this is/was a curse borne in social isolation form, where your peers go against you and you’re an outcast. Outcast Syndrome became a curse. Throughout my life the curse would come up many times as if it had the right timing and mine was shot to hell.

Another strike against me was my strange two knuckled fingers, even having a look of a curse with the middle knuckles on each hand missing all together, not fused with the upper knuckle to make up for space, because my fingers were noticeable and stubby. That is a part of the puzzle of the Curse well thought out and a long saga to be detangled. Although my mother and grandmother had almost the same fingers as me, and were concert pianists, piano never came to me easily, nor offered to me as a gift for being gifted ., but more like, “If you are not a good girl, I’m going to make you take piano lessons and you will not like that!”

Piano, the curse, no middle knuckle; then infuse that with a hyper belt surrounding me making me seem unstable, cry-babyish and cranky all the time. Though there was potential for focus and rare gifts of the brain, no one around wanted to pursue it, rather they ran from it and left me alone crying out with questions and maybe that is the reason I created an older man to answer me.

Although I inherited my mother’s digits, my knuckles were more “stand-alone” than other family members who were afflicted. My older brother has the affliction but each slightly developed middle knuckle was fused together with the top knuckles on each hand, giving the illusion of normal looking hands. They were not a magic trick, it was a mutation, or just “a curse” as many in the old days would say. Most children were drowned on purpose or buried alive for any limb out of shape or not right.

I’m not thoroughly sure when I realized there may be a curse in my family, some sort of hex, some kind of weird cosmic or Godly thing I call Curse of Miss Cane. Maybe it was always ongoing in my family, but what I can recall, or as I can remember of this curse is that as the years passed, it became a very real curse.

I was about to be born. Out of the 4 children my mother had, the hospital refused to sedate my mother with me, because mom’s water had broken in the middle of the night as she slept soundly, so she was quickly rushed to the hospital, almost giving birth to me in a taxi cab; A real drama unfolding that many would not soon forget!

Actually someone said it was a huge black limo that dad hired to take them to the hospital, but by the time it drove up to the entrance of the medical facility, my head was popping out and mom was 10 center-meters. This may have been a good door of opportunity for me to be born very quickly, but for some strange reason the best the hospital staff could do out of fear for both mother and me, was to give her the drug they were familiar with, to not to induce the pregnancy, but to slow it down, which might have been a big mistake, as they waited for my mother’s doctor to come. I was supposed to be born quickly, but the dreaded Curse of Cane took hold on me, or claimed me.

After a very traumatic birth by mother, the very next day she contracted a horrid dreadful Staph infection, out of the blue, less than 24 hours after I was born. Most probably it cropped up out of nowhere because of the burden put her in having me was a strain for a woman who birthed other babies, even though the oldest son, a heavy birth, but was brought into the world with as much less stress as they were doing in those days. As stated my mother was heavily sedated when the others were born, but with my birth it was something out of a nightmare for mother, newborn and doctor.

I was immediately separated from mom and taken home by Dad, who may have had his own fears and thoughts running through his own head of him getting ill, or even his new born daughter picking up the taboo infection. At least that is what I felt it could be because our growing family was destined for wealth and lots of money and we were growing fast.

Besides being rushed out of the hospital and not bonding with my mother due to her sickness and ill health, I did bond with my father. I also bonded with second oldest brother too although he didn’t say much in conversation, which probably calmed me down with him just quietly staring at me and not talking, or perhaps his curiousness turned into fascination as I may have looked up at him and smiled. So in the end, he and I had a wonderful brother-sister relationship up until my younger sister became a bit prettier and sweeter in the late 1970’s. I also was very close with her as we grew up.

And in just a few short years, when I was just 4 years old, my brother and I were fighting over a car rest in the back seat, not belted in as our grandfather drove us back to their house in on the beach! Ten stitches closed up that first head wound, Then about 6 months after that incident my brother again wounded me by hitting me over the head with a winter shovel. That sustained 10 more stitches but in the back of my head. Both incidents were extremely traumatic and may have contributed to my tantrums and odd social behavior later in life or perhaps triggered mental stress to be more compounded. Whatever the facts, life was starting to look like a curse in many ways.

My older brother was a huge baby, they said. The story some told proclaimed the oldest son something like 13 pounds before he was born with a full head of hair. When the forceps were put inside to pull him out, mother was out of her mind and sedated heavily, and has said to me many times that she didn’t recall a thing as she did with my second oldest brother and youngest sister. Only my birth she remembered.

I am the oldest daughter. Always will I be that, and I started to call myself Miss Cane, like slang for “Curse of Miss Cane (me)” And the Curse of Miss Cane was not just the oldest daughter’s problem. The older brother fell into the mess as well. In fact, at the age of 3 years I was playing in the garage one morning and heard a crash that sounded like the little beads attached on one of the housekeeper’s, sister’s hats that she loved so much. I had first thought in my little 3 year old mind that the housekeeper's hat fell and I could hear the beads falling on the pavement. But it was my older brother who had run through a locked front glass door and split his left thumb almost off the limb.

Speaking of my older brother, and the other births of my siblings ... Those other births were not without a bit of drama too as was with my birth. There was a thin-based rumor that mother fell in her best friend’s house on their spiral staircase while wearing high heeled shoes that she could not bear to part with. She was pregnant with my older brother at that time, so who knows what might have concurred, the shock of the fall so close to the birth.

She may have feigned (being an actress from Broadway and the drama of the Opera she loved so much) the okay sign and everyone was relieved, but maybe it was like a Houdini trick where in the end he bled and maybe mother’s son had a few strikes against him besides the fact that mom’s threshold of pain was quite large due to her contracting Polio 10 years earlier at summer camp and had to spend 2 years in an iron lung.

As I ran up to the top patio, my little mind remembered how my older brother always ran through the living room like a rocket and Mother saying to him, “Please don’t slam that door!” But he always did slam it. Now that I am older, I feel that possibly one evening mother locked the outer all glass door so that when my older brother ran through the living and tried to get out the door and slam it, which he enjoyed as an attention getter, that he would realize it was locked and simply stop and open the door.

Well, he didn’t realize what was going on until he was halfway down the street headed for his favorite blue bike, a trail of brightly colored fresh blood following a trail from his left thumb. He seemed to notice it and wiped it on his pants leg. As he did so, I saw a little bone sticking out, and lots of blood pouring into a puddle.

The housekeeper was a trained nurse and ran ahead of me and my shocked mother and grabbed my older brother along with my father getting in on it and helping, as older brother was just going into shock. I saw the blood all over the broken glass shards on the ground and stuck in the door, and saw my father leading my older brother out to the car to go to the hospital. Although my mother screamed and shouted and cursed at the top of the street, it was a very calm scene like it was just a movie.

Or maybe even the fact that on my birth certificate was a strange listing of 4 fetal deaths before my own birth came along. That’s “4” fetal deaths listed, not miscarriages, “Fetal Born Dead!” According to my own birth certificate, she had the other two children, my older brothers born normally, but 4 listed as “Fetal born Dead”. Who were all those others “fetals born dead”? Would I be in there somewhere? Not miscarriages, not live births, but dead fetal births, “4” is a high rate of mortality but why so many?

As I grasp my life now, I refer back to that birth certificate of mine, which was riddled with errors, and not just 1 or 2 unnoticeable, but many of them. First was my mom’s age, which was 1 year early. That was crossed out and her real age inserted, an odd “31” years old, not typed. Another error was my father’s occupation, which was typed out as “President Manufacturing Corporation”. That title was crossed off like a horse scratched out of the race, to “Owner Manufacturing Corporation”.

When I married years later, the Justice of the Peace (a woman) looked at me a few times before stamping it. And Once I recreated it and typed in the correct info, not hurting the original, and explaining if need be, with both certificates intact, It looks cursed, but then again, you create what you are afraid of, and I was always seeing myself as holding The Curse of Miss Cane in the palms of my hands, or the proof of such a curse and not in my vast imagination.

As for me, I was told that from the moment I was born, I cried from then on through the “teething stage” and up on into the older stages. Everything scared me, everything got my attention. I saw shadows, ghosts, figments, sick children, my dead relatives I knew nothing about, even though they did die horridly. I saw my uncle floating above my bed and crying and hungry. How could I know then that he died a full blown anorexic, a very rare case for a boy?

“She cries at the drop of a hat,” said my father.

“I think my 2 other boys were a bit jealous of her at first.” Mom added.

“I’d say they were taken-aback over her,’ said Dad. “Other children may have felt guilty, that somehow they had caused the unnecessary crying our daughter does.”

“I remember when our second son would not even leave me alone for a second when I had his sister in my arms…but eventually he got bored and went back to school,” said mother.

Other than the sweet version recalled by my mom and dad, I feel the second son at first would tease me in the crib at I slept, he may have shaken the sides of the crib to scare me, and it worked. And a few months later when I walked, I felt he was instrumental in various head injuries that I suffered and drove me even farther into The Curse of Miss Cane.

The one person I could not understand was my mother’s mom, my grandmother. She was a terror train. I was so afraid of her. She would scare the pants off me. She would say things like, “If you keep being a bad girl, I’m going to chain you to the bed!” The way she said “chain”, you to the bed” invoked such torture and pain I would suffer at her hands chained to my own bed.

Grandmother was not kidding I saw her doing it to me in my little mind’s eye. And usually, I had not done anything yet, she would take one look in my wavering scared-cat eyes and would try and get me to push her even just a bit farther than I would have dared.

I didn’t get away with much with her and although my oldest brother who also had the strange fingers, the Astigmatism of the eyes and the supposed ‘hairline disability; was the favored child by granddad, and that may have enraged my grandmothers mental disorder Munchausen By Proxy, a sort of sickness some mothers get so they can garner more attention by getting their own children sick, then running in to save the day, becoming very friendly with the perplexed doctors.

The survivors of Munchausen’s (my mother) would eventually become very child-like with her own children, which she did as we grew up, especially with my younger sister. Some of the survivors children developed Hypochondria and severe anxiety disorder that led to intestinal problems as did my uncle, which when he witnessed their long time neighbors, a real estate executive, being stabbed over and over in the back by his wife, with blood spattering all over the tended grass, that only served to aggravate my uncle's nervous condition. The real estate developer was dead and 7 years later so was my uncle!

I recall when Grandmother came over to our apartment in New York City. She would head straight to the piano in the living room and have a playoff with my mother. We would laugh and hoot and carry on until Grandma threatened to touch us on a certain place on our ears to make us go blind, "that would show you all!"

Grandmother’s favorite song was from the Broadway play Oliver! where Nancy the barmaid sings about her criminal boyfriend Bill Sikes, “As Long As He Needs Me,” Grannies favorite, she pounded the keys with a pure Russian emotion. She meant every word, even if she was singing about some long lost boyfriend. I listened to the words as she sang them with venom and vigor:

As Long As He Needs Me By: Lionel Bart © Copyright 1959

As long as he needs me...

Oh, yes, he does need me...

In spite of what you see...

...I'm sure that he needs me.

Who else would love him still

When they've been used so ill?

He knows I always will...

As long as he needs me.

I miss him so much when he is gone,

But when he's near me

I don't let on...

...The way I feel inside.

The love, I have to hide...

The hell! I've gone my pride

As long as he needs me.

He doesn't say the things he should.

He acts the way he thinks he should.

But all the same,

I'll play

This game

His way.

As long as he needs me...

I know where I must be.

I'll cling on steadfastly...

As long as he needs me.

As long as life is long...

I'll love him right or wrong,

And somehow, I'll be strong...

As long as he needs me.

If you are lonely

Then you will know...

When someone needs you,

You love them so.

I won't betray his trust...

Though people say I must.

I've got to stay true, just

As long as he needs me.*

She finished the tune with an extra chorus and her throaty deep operatic trained voice seemed to hold that last note “Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” as I stood behind her at a fake rapt attention. She scared the hell out of me, that’s all I knew, with her Mongolian looking eyes, unattractive features and aloof personality; she made for someone to be reckoned with. You could not win with that one. I did my best.

Grandmother was unfairly mean to me, strange. As I grew up, we clashed, but more as I grew up and began to understand things about Grandma, after her horrific death of Uremia when her intestines exploded inside her! With Grandma now passed on, and quite drastically, I noted an acute weird embarrassment arising in me about my mom.

It started out as a slight flush to my face when she showed up at my 2nd grade class when we’d moved to New York City. I remember she was wearing even wearing a blond looking wig, but exuding of expensiveness and eccentricity. She had the money, and the money didn’t embarrass me at first, it was my mother herself, her personality, her persona, her aura, she was like a rare star and was called many names to match her. “Snow Queen” “The Lady in White” and “Snow White”.

And the woman could sing opera like a pro, in many languages and you’d never know she even held a very heavy Brooklyn accent if she spoke like when she sang opera. It was particularly bad when I started 3rd grade.

The teacher, Mrs. Fohr was a very mean German woman who despised me and I would pick up on it and act out on it. She, like the school bus driver we had before we moved to New York City (Later….), placed my desk behind her own desk to block me from the other children the first week of school. I was isolated as soon as she got my schedule and personality down in her own cruel mind.

I could not do anything right in that 3rd grade class and don’t recall much from that school year. It was a weird one. What was even stranger was that toward the middle of the term, she got very sick and was out for almost 2 weeks. When she returned I saw her taking these green and red capsules and imagined me as one of those capsules in her body after she took it. I pretended I was that pill and as she stood by her coat closet, discreetly swallowing the pills,

I pretended to go down a wrong tube in her throat and fall out of her vagina. The whole class would see it fall on the floor between her legs. I would on occasion masturbate about it. I could slip in and out of her vagina at will in the fantasy. I often, although she was so mean to me, would play with myself imaging me shrinking and jumping down her throat only to be pushed out of her private part.

I was taught that it was okay to masturbate but to keep it private. All I knew was that I was healthy in that area and knew what I was imagining and it was just that, imagining myself as a pill being taken by a mean teacher but for some reason it began to bring on my child’s orgasm, which I could achieve very easily by seeing it and running it focused through my mind.

I wonder if she is still alive after all this time, so I looked up the woman several times through the years until the Internet yielded the info I sought. She came up at age 88 still alive but with a private phone number. I sometimes felt the need to call and ask if she remembered me.

This teacher noticed my two knuckled fingers and would pass me by when teaching the other kids how to write in script. Was it the curse that denied me my scripted writing which I cannot do to this day? But I’d also like to tell her that I can type over 100 words per minute. She’d either claim not to remember me, be passed on, or would pretend indifference which is the same as not remembering, probably the latter.

Because of her, Mrs. Fohr, my third grade teacher, there was no way I could learn how to use script writing. She pointed this out to me and the class on more than one occasion. And she made sure I knew she thought it was very shocking and very inferior. She was a staunch woman, almost like the Nazi’s who got away because they didn’t commit any real crimes during the war, but were either rich Jews that got strong and paid through, or part of the German Youth Organization types that lived until they were 100 years old! She could have been Jewish, who knows.

I readily acted out (up) and was sent gladly by her to the hallway. Out in the hall I would pretend my fingers were these shuttles that carried convicts and criminals on a tram. I would run my finger across the brick cinder block impressions as if they were railroad tracks, and walk back and forth as did a lot of the other kids sent to the hall, except they were not playing any games they were just pacing.

Each convict had a distinct personality and I always knew it was fake, not real, just a product of my mind. I would spend the whole afternoon out there, after we’d come back from lunch. A nice blond, blue eyed boy whom I struck up a serious friendship with had been left back in second grade so now I was sort of on my own, now alone trying to meet other types.

Being intensely teased about my crooked fingers and personality and anything else about me, including my hair and clothes seemed endless. Due to my older brothers first coming to the public school, before me, might have played a part in it with my peers, although the teachers (minus Mrs. Fohr) seemed to like me and know who I was and where I came from.

And during my 3rd grade nightmare, I recall being terrifed I’d meet my own mother in the streets of New York City when the classes started going on field trips to the Museum and Central Park. So I would cry and carry on and put on a big show so I wouldn’t have to go on these field trips. In the end they’d try to drag, push me and even threaten me with expulsion if I didn’t go, but I didn’t budge.

I had the solution. “Let me be with my brother! Please! Please let me be with my brother, he’s in the 5th grade. I won’t be bad if you let me sit in his class, I promise,” I would cry and rant until they caved. I found myself sitting on the top floor of the school where the older kid’s classes were.

“We have a guest today,” said Mrs. Greenberg, a teacher that would one day notice my talents and help me. But for now she was told I was a trouble maker cry baby that hated field trips and was afraid. But when she realized I was the sister of one of her quietest students she became intrigued. She was one for bringing out the student and their gifts, and she’d been all over the world, read to the class, asked questions, put the scare into them, made them remember things.

In fact, I do recall that day when I sat way in the back and even started asking questions. She called on me even though I was in 3rd grade at the time and was sitting in a large 5th grade class not knowing anyone but her older brother, who was not a talker. This little girl’s answers about what the United Nations Building stood for were “right on the money”. She knew current events, that was for sure.

“What class are you in?” Asked Mrs. Greenberg as she came around and to the back of the room at the round table where visiting trouble makers sat. Today there was no trouble maker, just me. And I could hear Mrs. Greenberg's thoughts, "...this girl seems different, special and full of potential."

“I’m in 3rd grade,” I said. I was a young curly-headed, skinny child back then and looked rambunctious and could easily go off the charts with emotion, but Mrs. Greenberg soon found out that I had something someone had obviously missed due to, but not in part to, the hyper activity the I exuded. It’s sad how much the State needed bodies in the chairs to get the budget monies, but so much was mis-diagnosed, mis- read and missed all together.

After the class was over, Mrs. Greenberg called me and my brother over to her desk. My brother seemed nervous, like he’d done something wrong.

“Don’t worry,” said Mrs. Greenberg, smiling, and her red curls tightly curved around her moon face. She wore ‘cherry lip stick’ ….

“Next time, go on the field trip, eventually you may end up in my class and I won’t allow you to stay with any other class… I assure you you’ll love it. What is the problem dear?” asked Mrs. Greenberg, trying to reach the little girl.

Tear welled up in my eyes. “I….I….I….think I’ll run into my mom and she’ll see me and bring attention to me!” I blurted out sounding like a little Shirley Temple look a like, minus the confidence, as if Shirley Temple was Dorothy looking around for the witch!

“I’ve met your mother, she’s charming,” said Mrs. Greenberg. “But she is, how shall we say,” said Mrs. Greenberg as she tapped her pointer finger on her chin unconsciously. “Your mother can be exasperating for a sensitive child such as yourself.”

“Yes, it’s not easy. I have to convince her it’s not really her, it’s just that I don’t know how to act and usually I spill stuff, or break something, but then she says, ‘don’t forget to break something at the table,’ and I end up spilling something…”

“Don’t worry honey, you will grow out of that. Be as you are. But try and focus in more. I’ll help you. I’ll talk to your mom one day, promise. For now, go back to your other class. Who do you have as a teacher?”

“Mrs. Fohr,” I said with distaste.

Mrs. Greenberg rolled her eyes… “Oh, that one,” she said. “I see the problem. Well, just try and put up with that old bat. I hear your 4th grade teacher is a very nice man, and I have a feeling you will be going to him next. Go on kid, stay loose, go on the next one, maybe it will be fun! Come on, what are the chances of meeting your own mother on the street! And even if you did, it should be a blessing to see her, not a curse!

About 2 months after that day, a field trip was scheduled to Central Park. This time someone talked me into it and I remembered Mrs. Greenberg’s words. Although I didn’t see the sharp 5th grade teacher, messages were sent through my older brother. He would say, “Mrs. Greenberg says hello. She wants to know if you are going on the next field trip because she isn’t going to let you stay in her class anymore until you go on at least one,” explained my shy brother.

“Okay, so I’ll go.” I was already getting butterflies in my stomach because at that exact moment my mom walked into my bedroom asking, “Going where?” She liked when we had field trips and had asked on many occasions to be a chaperone, but was told that every position was filled already, and they were not lying to mom. Lots of normal mothers and some dads liked to help the school. And it was sort of an ego trip according to one of the popular girl’s mothers who’d chaperoned many times. She was a tough Puerto Rican lady who didn’t let anyone get away with anything. But she had daughters of her own, 4 of them, so she was a trusted chaperone and did the job better.

So for the first time, there I stood in line by height and heading out the door of the school for a field trip to the Central Park Zoo, and a little swim in the wading pools they had at that time. We walked down 57th Street, then hit the park end, and started walking down toward the 41st Street. Because it was one of my very first field trips,

I was very nervous, looking around in all directions, watching the people, especially the women walking down the street. The rest of the teased me as usual, but this time I felt a slight twinge of something, a foreshadow I wished to simply ignore. Out of the blue I looked up when I saw the whole class, including Mrs. Fohr look toward the other side of the street on the park side.

There she was, my mother, the Snow Queen herself walking briskly as if she owned all of NYC! Why out of all the streets in New York City, did she have to be right there? And for me it was like something out of a Twilight Zone episode. A few kids recognized her, and called out, “Hey, there’s your mom over there!”

“Where is she?” I asked, scanning the streets in all directions, sweat breaking out on my brow and my heart starting a steady hard beat, the type you felt in your ears and throat. The beat of “fear” “foreboding” … it was happening just like I imagined night after night, the nightmare of running into my mother in the middle of a street. I broke out of the line and ran down an alley with one of the bad kids David and his pal Marco, but both boys were yelling at the top of their own lungs,

“Look, it’s her mom, Look, it’s like she said would happen!” said David, smirking.

“Do you think her mother followed her just to mess with her?” asked Marco to know one in particular.

“Now class, calm down, everyone calm down,” but the way Mrs. Fohr said it didn’t calm nerves, it’s was like needles being put in your palms.

There she was, I was actually looking at her exiting the old Gucci store across from the park. I thought I would die of a heart attack. Everything became surreal as my mom saw us, waved and ran against the light almost getting hit by a taxi in the process.

Back then I thought it was some kind of magic my mom possessed, but I realize she really wanted to chaperone and must have heard from one of my other siblings that I was going on the field trip. She knew where we would be, so she just went there and stopped at her favorite store on the way. I remember standing there feeling like a mouse caught in a trap and it showed on me red face.

“Why are you so upset ‘cause you mom is here?” Asked one little girl who was the teacher’s favorite, a straight blond haired, blue eyed child any teacher would love.

I began crying, dropped to the sidewalk like I’d been wounded, and also trying to block it all out, like it was a nightmare. Suddenly, a few minutes passed and I looked up to see my mom walking away quickly, as if she was embarrassed that I was ashamed of seeing her there. Everyone was talking at once and the teacher was trying to calm the class to continue the trip to the zoo. “She’s gone, stupid girl,” said Marco.

“God, you are ashamed of your own mom,” said another black girl Marlene, whose own mother worked at our school. I didn’t think I could handle that with my mother.

We went on into the park, to the zoo, then into these dirty looking wading pools. I cried and didn’t want any part of that. There was something about water that scared me as a child. As the other kids played in the pools, and I ran out to the edge of the concrete stand, the teacher sneered at me, saying I’d ruined the trip and under no circumstances would I ever have to go with them again, not as long as she was the one taking us.

They knew my mother Snow White would raise monies, and talk a big game, and constantly pestered her for donations and her stamp on the project they might be doing for the school. Due to mother working everywhere from London to Broadway and back again, these little PTA projects were like little marbles compared to a Faberge eggs she hoarded and showed off about.

It would always be very traumatizing for me, the way things went with my mother and I. Is it ordained and part of the Curse of Miss Kane? As we grew up, we clashed. As I got older my acute embarrassment increased over her, not because of her, she was so beautiful and aptly named anything with white or angel in it really fit mom to a tee.

I talked loud, was out of control, and always wanted to play with the blocks, and the teachers would try to sway me over to the little fake kitchen, or the crayons, just to get me out of the center of the room, where the blocks were set up. In the end they rearranged the whole classroom because of me, just to get me over to the corner where I wouldn’t be a distraction. But I realized I was a distraction and knew what I was doing. I knew they thought

I was mentally unstable, or socially retarded, but I just found it easier, at least until my mental capacity grew in my brain, to play along and pretend I was mentally out of control, which I probably was. And it wasn’t like some of the other children in the class, mostly foreigners, but a few white girls with blond hair and pigtails would have a seizure or some sort of screaming fit.

I remember seeing this one girl named Ramona sitting way to the back of the classroom bobbing up and down and pulling her hair. And then there was this boy from Romania that knew hardly a word if English.

Years later I would bring it to his attention when were in the same class in 7th grade but he complained to the teacher that I was bothering him and to move me, so I was isolated yet again because a boy who once was isolated like myself, in kindergarten was now complaining that I was getting in his face. Eventually he was moved to the smarter class upstairs.

I was an extremely sensitive child and immediately thought bad things like seizures or bobbing would happen to me. As they held this pretty little pixy blond girl down on a piano bench, she twisted and turned and shook, and I thought it would happen to me.

I could feel it. Of course, it didn’t, but I always carried that fear inside me and would pause and pretend I was going to have a seizure like the girl at school. I would spook myself then run into my parent’s room only to be told to be “…a big girl and go back to bed!”

Dad would get up and walk me back sometimes, and assure me, but I felt a curse lingering everywhere. I saw phantoms and symbols of it everywhere I went and everything that I did. I pretended to be afraid of the dark, but in reality I was afraid of the curse. I knew it was there at an early age. That is why I was isolated so quickly although I was never diagnosed with any mental disorder. Yes, I was hyper and prone to tantrums, and yes, I did talk out loud to myself, but again, I was aware of it, and knew what I was doing…

But it was that coming summer that a lot of the curse would be put to the test. My parents sent my 2 brothers and myself to a day camp on the coast between Cape Cod and Connecticut. It was right on the ocean and called Rocky Hill. We’d be picked up by a yellow school bus and driven to this camp.

While being driven we were teased relentlessly by the other children, mostly kids from our own neighborhood, even a boy named Shane who shot my brother and I while we played on the lawn of our own house, he lived across the street and had a pellet gun.

He shot at us several times and hit my brother in the chin. In fact, before we’d be carted off to day camp, my housekeeper took us to the park to play after school let out. A boy and his brother, who lived a few houses down, this boy Mike, rode his black bike right into me and his handlebar struck me on the right upper part of my face, leaving a red mark that was seen for years. He meant to hit me. I saw his eyes as he got closer and closer to me and I just stood there staring, not believing he’d really hit me, but he did, with his handlebars, than acted like it was a total accident.

What was so different about my family than others there in the neighborhood? Why did they all tease me and my brothers? Why, I kept asking myself as we walked along the beach in single file at Rocky Hills exploring the low tide tidbits.

There were dead fish carcasses, Stingray shells, empty of the fish itself, and just lying in the hot sun smelling up the beach line. There weren’t big shells, not the ones you saw on TV. And the water was not blue, it was dark and forbidding, no one went in the ocean, but instead used the pool facilities at the camp.

As I walked at the end of the line, isolated with the rest of the children, a mix of Jewish boys and girls from the rich city areas like Park Avenue, Madison and upper crust of lower East side. All of a sudden I had an urge to be with my brother.

There was only one way to get to him. I started to have a tantrum and carry on and cry so much that the whole procession of campers and counselors turned around, headed back to camp and dropped me at the shooting range where my brother was with his age group. Although this is many years before Mrs. Greenberg’s class and the field trips Mrs. Fohr used to bring us on that I refused to go to, for fear of bumping into my mom, which did happen!

I got to be the only 4 year old girl who got to shoot the bee-bee guns that only the boys shot. The girls would shoot archery, but when I shot archery I would get a bruise from the taunt string, and the pain became scary for me.

After a few hours of shooting I was reunited with my age group and kissed my brother goodbye, knowing we’d see each other after lunch and head for the buses to go home. The food at this camp was terrible. I can still smell and taste the food and drink at Rocky Hill Day Camp. The juice was usually pineapple juice; the food was hot dogs and beans, or ravioli (ugh!). And the dessert was coconut cookies. It was a very strange combination, like trying to get a little kid like me to like Sushi.

Even my first camp out was a blow out, when while making Some-mores with chocolate bars and marshmallow and graham crackers, I all of a sudden got “the runs” very badly. It must have been something I ate earlier, but the counselors got me up to the office bathroom and I sat on that toilet for what seemed like hours. Finally when everyone else was asleep in the big smelly green army tent, the counselors cleaned me up and were laughing with me about the incident, saying I did very well and didn’t panic. But why it only happened to me, I asked myself.

That’s when I started thinking that maybe I would have fared better if I had been born a boy! I always had that with me since early times. There were about 8 slots, because of the 4 dead births my mother had before I was born. Maybe if I had been born in one of those slots I would have been a male baby and it would have ended different. Maybe, maybe not. Destiny is a tricky thing. We have freewill, we have the right to go whatever path is laid before us, and usually I’d pick the constantly wrong path, but then get righted, but then the curse would flare up and I’d lose it.

AND ANOTHER THING ABOUT MASTURBATION!

Older brother discovered public masturbation around age 14. At first I noticed he was doing it in our elegant den where we all lived at this rich apartment building on the East River in New York City. Opulence, valet parking, high rise, 180 degree views of New York City skyline, a dream apartment for the rich and famous whom also lived in this building.

Older brother would come into the den as the rest of our family watched television.

Usually it was some detective show like McMillan & Wife or Colombo in the early evening after dinner. He would start to do his masturbation, the preliminaries of it, like making room in his pants by unzipping them half way to touch himself lightly. I watched him, his technique and his reaction. His big head lay on a big pillow against the love seat chair where you could stretch out. It was very “French” looking, with the big wheels at the bottom and the intrigued patterns of yellow, green and brown woven carefully into the fabric.

The pillow and his body would shake. He’d then lift his head up, look around at all of us ignoring him and then he’d get down to business. He’d skim his “tool” with his right hand then he’d lift it to his nose and take a big whiff of the smell left there from his sweat. He didn’t seem the least bit self-conscious. He would just continue as the TV blared and no one in the room would bat an eye at him.

This was my older brother! No one stopped him as he masturbated right in front of my whole family, and sometimes a guest of the family would be there too, and they’d ignore it as well. Then one day I could take it no more and broke the nervous silence. We were all riveted on the show but I was watching my masturbating big brother. His fervor on this increased as the TV show played out. Was the emotional response of “shame” ever planted in this kid’s head? I would guess not.

At first, it seemed almost normal until I started talking about it with other kids at my school. It got around fast in that school and before I knew it I’d isolated myself even further than having my desk put behind the teacher away from the other kids. But it was all true.

The only other person who had anything to say about it, believe it or not, was our housekeeper from the West Indies, who saw him and clicked her teeth and said his name in her thick accent really loud. Then I would get in on the game and it was almost like at first my father was upset at “me” for bringing it up, but then Mom would either pretend she did not see it as she tidied up the den in her own masked nervousness about the matter.

A few times after the initial nudge about it, my dad would scream at older brother and ban him from the den. He would just stop, get up sort of dazed, and walk out of the room into his bedroom he shared with my other brother.

“Why does he do it” ran through my mind. It seemed so normal until I realized it was a private thing, I just could feel it deeply in my, well, you know what I mean now.

Dad only said to us that it was a totally normal thing, that is how you found yourself and it was all part of growing up and moving thru puberty, nothing more, and nothing less. But older brother seemed to take that a step farther by doing the act in public which, of course, is totally taboo as I learned when I went to my next grade after Mrs. Fohr’s horror class.

Later on that week, my parents took us all out to dinner at the Plaza Hotel and a show and movie at Radio City Music Hall. I sat next to my older brother and the lights dimmed. As the Rockettes started dancing, my older brother started up with his public masturbation again, but right there in a crowded movie theater. For the first time I didn’t say a word, a nudge or anything, I was so embarrassed that someone would see him, and he was sitting next to me. I actually saw him have his release, and he did his usually hand ritual and smelled it, then took a napkin and wiped it all away and laid back in his movie chair and started to do it all over again. I didn’t know what to do or say.

But my father had noticed too. So as we drove back to our apartment across town, he yelled at my older brother, “When we get home, I want you to get out of my sight until you can conduct yourself better, so go to your room as soon as we get home. I think it’s time we had a talk!” Dad turned to my sister, brother and I and began lecturing us about it, as mother sprayed her signature perfume in the cab and began to compulsively clean lint off my camel haired coat. “Masturbation is not a bad thing, kids!” said dad as quietly and calmly as if he was reading the funnies. But it’s a private thing, so if you do it, make sure you are alone.

“Why?” I asked, trying to get him to spill more beans on this.

“Because that is the way it is…you are discovering your body and will be discovering yourself in many ways as you get older like your brother,” explained Dad. “Just come to me and we’ll talk about it if it bothers you, it’s all normal! Even ‘that’ is normal, never feel guilty, but what your brother is doing is wrong and he should keep it inside his bedroom, not out in the open.”

“Why?” I asked again.

“You can be very exasperating, but as time goes on you’ll see why, now let’s have quiet now.”

Bourge, why are you telling the kids so much?” whispered my mother as we all got settled into the big yellow cab.

“They need to know eventually. I don’t want them learning it in school, in the schoolyard, all wrong information, before you know it, one of them will come home saying they are pregnant or got someone pregnant!”

“The way our oldest son is heading, he may get himself pregnant!” said mother, suppressing a laugh.

“This is not a laughing matter,” said Dad.

“I think your son needs to see ‘someone’ professional, if you get what I mean, dear.”

“No, not my son,” said Dad. “I won’t discuss this now.” Dad was upset and you could see it in his bronze face, a slight flush under the lotion he used to darken his skin. His hairpiece was a bit askew, but only I would notice because at times he let me stand in his dressing room and watch him apply the glue to the head and push on the ‘rug’!

“No professional help, he’s getting enough of that as it is!”

“Okay, whatever you say Bourge,” Mother said, using the French nickname for him.

As for me, I discovered masturbation very early in life, quite by accident. I was watching a movie on how spiders lived. Our 2nd grade class was sitting in the dark. I got a bit drowsy and bored and laid my head on the table, but watched this spider start to devour a fruit fly really close up. I was wearing a dark blue one piece simple dress and white thick stockings. I also had a habit of moving my legs back and forth which relaxed me, but this time I was doing it sort of slowly, because the stockings, which were thick, rubbed back and forth against my thighs, legs and crotch so languidly and procured such a curious sensation.

I started to move ever so slightly my tailbone area back and forth as my legs went to and fro which produced that new feeling between my legs, making my underwear become a ‘French Tickler’, though at the time I did not know what it was.

My private area was on fire, but not hurting fire, it was a sort of urging type of feeling, like “keep going, you are going to get some surprise at the end, but be careful or all you will get is detention or a tongue lashing. Even the words tongue lashing, along with watching that spider eat the fly, and being in a dark room where no one was paying attention to you because that is what you always what I craved so they would not give that up too easily, I was safe with this new thing.

I thought about my brother and that blew my concentration, so I pushed him out of my mind and made myself look at the movie again. I did this very discreetly and finally I felt something building in the private area and there was this weird hot feeling, or explosion only in that one area. I was a bit breathless and as the feeling ebbed, I felt let down like I should have made it last longer.

And I most certainly would not do what my older brother did, to do it publicly? Never, I could never ever do that. That I was sure of. As the last of the feeling left me, the spider split the cocoon it had made to suck the life out of the fly and that brought me such a feeling. Not a bad feeling, but as a little girl, it was the first pangs of sexual gratification. How my older brother found his, and did it in such a public place, only enhanced my mind into wanting to know all about it. And you can be 100 percent sure I would never ever get caught.

When the lights came on, no one was the wiser, but Mrs. Epstein said I looked like I had been napping and not paying the least bit of attention. “What is the AIM for today, you read it now out loud, come up here,” she said to me.

I looked up at the board where she wrote in clear letters: AIM. Next to that was the main deal of the day which read “To do the best you can do to focus and understand! Ask questions!”

I read it clearly and with conviction. My voice did sound like it had a bit of sleep, but I think it was the orgasm I must have experienced. My private part due to the rubbing against the wooden chair was chafed and I felt the need to touch myself there, or at least sit back down. Finally she told me to sit. I did. It was relief to know I didn’t rub the skin clear through. I thought maybe I was bleeding, but later, after I was excused to the little girl’s room, I saw white discharge, knowing exactly what it was for some strange reason.

In the interim, I discovered Masturbation at age 7! I thought about my older brother, but my little developed mind could never image doing that so public, in front of anyone or everyone. It was like a “must hide it vibe”, no one can know you do it, even though it’s something all humans discovered, some earlier, some later than others.

So when I masturbated, I made sure it was at night when I could hear the housekeeper’s golden bangles as she walked down the long hallway of our apartment, so as not to get caught. Also, Dad wore the signature Gucci shoes, so when he came through the hallway, the 2 18-karat gold bars attached to the top of his shoes would jingle like a cowboy walking into an ambush.

Mother wore expensive flowing dresses and I could actually hear the swish of the fabric as she walked down the hall. Usually she would come in to the room to check on me, and feel my forehead, see that I was hot (from masturbating), and she thought I was sick and would wake up the whole household, take my temp, and then call it a false alarm.

My sister was always asleep and an atom bomb wouldn’t wake her once she was asleep in the bed next to me. My brothers never got up at night to try and catch me, it was just accepted, not pursued, except in my own mental mind.

I almost got caught once though while watching a boxing match. Two black, sweaty guys were clubbing each other, ducking and punching up a storm as I pulled the blanket over myself and began masturbating while watching them beat each other up. My father was away and usually took 3 days away from home, then would come back for 3 days, and travel on that last day to his lace factory in another state.

My mom was out with the lady married to the man who used to run the Miss USA/Miss Universe pageant. Sis was asleep and my brothers were asleep in their bedroom. What I hadn’t counted on was the housekeeper removing her golden bracelets that were my major alarm system, never failed. As I watched the match,

I began to masturbate faster and faster, trying not to let the blanket move, just for it to seem I was moving my legs as I did and family knew about. As my release got closer than exploded and was ebbing, my housekeeper walked into my bedroom and saw the remnants. She yelled at me and pulled off the heavy blanket and saw how sweaty I was. Luck for me she didn’t suspect, but thought I was getting sick like mom did the other night.

As she yelled in her thick accent, I heard the word “castor oil”. This was the first time I’d been caught, even when I was at summer camp I was careful not to get caught and there were at least 15 other girls in the room in bunk beds plus two counselors roaming around with flashlights.

Years after, I even got to ride horse’s English style and a friend of mine and I used to have masturbation races for real. It sounded gross, but I always won because I had become so in tune to my own release at such an early age. And although in a strange way I was lucky never to really get caught doing it, my brother would do the public masturbation on up until I visited them when I was at my sister’s wedding.

He lay on the bed and knew very well I was sitting on my mother’s balcony at her Condo. I walked in and he must have heard that sliding glass door, but he just kept going, and I was totally disgusted. Afterwards I had the gall to say something to him, “I saw what you were doing, God, you still masturbate…”

His answer to me was a simple, “F-off!”

I’m sure now that my father told my two older brothers about how babies were made, but when they decided to tell us, my parents bought a book called “How Babies Are Made” and it simply put the whole process with photos and cute writing, read out loud by my mom. It was a “no holds barred” way to tell us the right educational way and they, my parents, thought sis and I were ready.

When mom sat us down and read the part about the actual sperm/egg transfer and how it was done, sis and I laughed at the photo of the man and woman smiling and laying on top of each other with the blanket pulled up to their normal looking faces. From then on we knew and would joke all the time about it until my father took us aside and explained, then stressed with a light poke, not to joke about such a thing. It was natural as masturbation, just not in public, it’s a private thing. “Your mother read you the book, right?”

“Yes Daddy,” we answered together, my sister and I, trying hard not to look at each other lest we’d break out laughing.

From the very start, when I was old enough, my second oldest brother and I were sent to school. I was in Kindergarten at that time, and right away I was isolated and sort of kept away from other children. I talked to myself during quiet times, which disrupted, but I remember knowing I was just making up stuff in my head and I was aware of what I was doing, an attention getter mostly. When you are at home, it’s hard to compete with your own mother for attention. It boiled down to that, a curse in itself.

I talked loud, was out of control, and always wanted to play with the blocks, and the teachers would try to sway me over to the little fake kitchen, or the crayons, just to get me out of the center of the room, where the blocks were set up. In the end they rearranged the whole classroom because of me, just to get me over to the corner where I wouldn’t be a distraction. But I realized I was a distraction and knew what

I was doing. I knew they thought I was mentally unstable, or socially retarded, but I just found it easier, at least until my mental capacity grew in my brain, to play along and pretend I was mentally out of control, which I probably was. And it wasn’t like some of the other children in the class, mostly foreigners, but a few white girls with blond hair and pigtails would have a seizure or some sort of screaming fit. I remember seeing this one girl named Ramona sitting way to the back of the classroom bobbing up and down and pulling her hair.

And then there was this boy from Romania that knew hardly a word if English. Years later I would bring it to his attention when were in the same class in 7th grade but he complained to the teacher that I was bothering him and to move me, so I was isolated yet again because a boy who once was isolated like myself, in kindergarten was now complaining that I was getting in his face. Eventually he was moved to the smarter class upstairs.

I was an extremely sensitive child and immediately thought bad things like seizures or bobbing would happen to me. As they held this pretty little pixy blond girl down on a piano bench, she twisted and turned and shook, and I thought it would happen to me. I could feel it. Of course, it didn’t, but I always carried that fear inside me and would pause and pretend I was going to have a seizure like the girl at school.

I would spook myself then run into my parent’s room only to be told to be “…a big girl and go back to bed!” Dad would get up and walk me back sometimes, and assure me, but I felt a curse lingering everywhere. I saw phantoms and symbols of it everywhere I went and everything that I did. I pretended to be afraid of the dark, but in reality I was afraid of the curse. I knew it was there at an early age.

That is why I was isolated so quickly although I was never diagnosed with any mental disorder. Yes, I was hyper and prone to tantrums, and yes, I did talk out loud to myself, but again, I was aware of it, and knew what I was doing…

But it was that coming summer that a lot of the curse would be put to the test. My parents sent my 2 brothers and myself to a day camp on the coast between Cape Cod and Connecticut. It was right on the ocean and called Rocky Hill. We’d be picked up by a yellow school bus and driven to this camp. While being driven we were teased relentlessly by the other children, mostly kids from our own neighborhood, even a boy named Shane who shot my brother and I while we played on the lawn of our own house, he lived across the street and had a pellet gun.

He shot at us several times and hit my brother in the chin. In fact, before we’d be carted off to day camp, my housekeeper took us to the park to play after school let out. A boy and his brother, who lived a few houses down, this boy Mike, rode his black bike right into me and his handlebar struck me on the right upper part of my face, leaving a red mark that was seen for years. He meant to hit me. I saw his eyes as he got closer and closer to me and I just stood there staring, not believing he’d really hit me, but he did, with his handlebars, than acted like it was a total accident.

What was so different about my family than others there in the neighborhood? Why did they all tease me and my brothers? Why, I kept asking myself as we walked along the beach in single file at Rocky Hills exploring the low tide tidbits. There were dead fish carcasses, Stingray shells, empty of the fish itself, and just lying in the hot sun smelling up the beach line. There weren’t big shells, not the ones you saw on TV. And the water was not blue, it was dark and forbidding, no one went in the ocean, but instead used the pool facilities at the camp.

As I walked at the end of the line, isolated with the rest of the children, a mix of Jewish boys and girls from the rich city areas like Park Avenue, Madison and upper crust of lower East side.

All of a sudden I had an urge to be with my brother. There was only one way to get to him. I started to have a tantrum and carry on and cry so much that the whole procession of campers and counselors turned around, headed back to camp and dropped me at the shooting range where my brother was with his age group. Although this is many years before Mrs. Greenberg’s class and the field trips Mrs. Fohr used to bring us on that I refused to go to, for fear of bumping into my mom, which did happen!

I got to be the only 4 year old girl who got to shoot the bee-bee guns that only the boys shot. The girls would shoot archery, but when I shot archery I would get a bruise from the taunt string, and the pain became scary for me.

After a few hours of shooting I was reunited with my age group and kissed my brother goodbye, knowing we’d see each other after lunch and head for the buses to go home. The food at this camp was terrible. I can still smell and taste the food and drink at Rocky Hill Day Camp. The juice was usually pineapple juice; the food was hot dogs and beans, or ravioli (ugh!). And the dessert was coconut cookies. It was a very strange combination, like trying to get a little kid like me to like Sushi.

Even my first camp out was a blow out, when while making Some-mores with chocolate bars and marshmallow and graham crackers, I all of a sudden got “the runs” very badly. It must have been something I ate earlier, but the counselors got me up to the office bathroom and I sat on that toilet for what seemed like hours.

Finally when everyone else was asleep in the big smelly green army tent, the counselors cleaned me up and were laughing with me about the incident, saying I did very well and didn’t panic. But why it only happened to me, I asked myself.

That’s when I started thinking that maybe I should have been born a boy! I always had that with me since early times. There were about 8 slots, because of the 4 dead births my mother had before I was born. Maybe if I had been born in one of those slots I would have been a male baby and it would have ended different.

Maybe, maybe not. Destiny is a tricky thing. We have freewill, we have the right to go whatever path is laid before us, and usually I’d pick the constantly wrong path, but then get righted, but then the curse would flare up and I’d lose it.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE BOOK III AND THE CONCLUSION OF "BULLIES OF CAROLTOWN"

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