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  • As brothers go, he could have been worse. I mean as the older brother, I never minded him hanging around with me and my friends. And they all accepted him, not as a necessary evil like some of my friend’s brothers, but as one of us. A junior member of “the woman haters” club.

    He was three years younger than us and when you’re ten years old that’s a lot. My best friend’s brother was the same age as mine and he was never allowed to go with us. When he would try, we would tell him his nose was bleeding and he would run home crying to his mom. Crude, but effective enough to allow us time to disappear for a few hours.

    My brother never told on us. Never! For that fact alone, he was treated like a “made” man in the mafia. A stand up guy. And you could tell it wasn’t because he was afraid to squeal on us. It just wasn’t in his nature. And believe me, he saw us do enough stupid and dangerous things to last two lifetimes. He was there as a witness to our follies. Our audience for foolish behavior.

    Like the time we found a hunk of rope. It probably came from one of the construction sites we were constantly warned not to go near. That’s where all the best stuff was found. The workmen would leave their empty soda bottles for us. They were worth two cents deposit at the IGA. Real money in those days.

    Anyway we had this rope and other than practicing Hangman’s knots, didn’t know what to do with it. In one of the backyards there was a telephone pole with climbing spikes starting about eight feet up. They were probably put that high purposely to keep kids off the pole. Fat chance!

    We decided to hang each other from the bottom spike. Oh, not by the neck. That would only be a one-time deal and no fun at all for the hangee. No, we each took a turn swinging by our feet. Sounds dumb, but a double dog dare must be observed.

    When it came to my turn everything was proceeding to plan when lunch time was called. In my neighborhood, when the mom’s yelled “lunch”, you yelled back “coming mom” and dropped everything. No, they didn’t drop me, but they did hand me the rope and ran home.

    I didn’t weigh much, but the rope wasn’t long enough for me to get all the way down. When I ran out of rope it was free fall for the last two feet. A few cuts and bruises but no broken bones or torn clothes. That would have put me in trouble with mom. When mom looked me over and questioned my scrapes, I just said I fell. When she looked to my brother for verification, he just gave her that wide-eyed “I know nothing” look of Sgt. Schultz. Like I said, a stand up guy.

    He used that “who me?” look a lot when we were growing up. My mom was the disciplinarian in our family, but she could never spank him. If she started to get after him, his eyes would well up with tears and she would end up hugging him instead.

    Me? I would argue and end up with the spanking. I didn’t resent that, ‘cause I earned a lot more than I got. If she had ever found out what I was REALLY doing most of the time, my butt would have been tanned but good!

    Yeah, as brothers go, he could have been worse.

    Early on he did poorly in school and because of that I always thought he was a little “slow”. I never realized that he was just biding his time, waiting for the proper field of study to come along. Once he found that the “arts” were his thing and he transferred to South County Tech, he became an “A” student and his class president. By then I had left home for the Navy, but I was proud of him.

    We never had sibling rivalry. That sounds a bit bazaar even now. He never felt the need to outshine me. Not once. I always felt I could depend on him, arm in arm against all comers. No wonder my friends thought I was lucky.

    I am. Thanks, Gar’.
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