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Whittling Away: Siblings


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I had the great good fortune to have started life as an only child.

This blissful condition lasted for two years, during which I must have done something to displease my parents because they brought home a brother for me even though I had never put one on my “things I want” list. 

Other than being kind of goofy looking and smelling rather odd, he didn’t really bother me too much. Things stabilized, he started to walk and talk, and suddenly just as the world was starting to be my oyster again, they dragged home another small male creature. 

At the ripe old age of six, I had to start training another one. He was starting to break in when the world as we three brothers knew it came crashing down around us. My parents added another one to the rapidly growing brood and this one was female. 

The good times were over. I had gone from an only child to the oldest one in the short span of eight years. All you “oldest child” types out there know what a rough job it is.  You are suddenly responsible for this galloping herd of rug rats whose major joy is getting you in trouble. I started hearing things like: “Why did you let your baby brother eat the cat food?” and “Oh look, she colored your Mickey Mantle rookie card, isn’t that cute!”

The female type wasn’t much trouble for the first year or so, being mostly there to keep my mother busy and out of our hair. Little did we know how soon “Daddy’s Little Girl” would become the bane of our existence. 

While she was ripening into the full bloom of rotten little sisterhood, the real pain was my little brother. We referred to him as “Little Me Too.” Everything the older brothers wanted to do elicited his high-pitched fingernails on the chalkboard cry, “ME TOO!” 

Our gang, the older brothers and Wild Bill, our next door neighbor from a half mile up the dirt road we lived on, decided we were old enough to camp out all by ourselves. We obtained the necessary parental permission and set about gathering provisions and supplies needed for such an expedition. 

We found an old piece of canvas with only a few holes through which we envisioned gazing at the stars at night. We constructed a beautiful little hut/lean to in the wilderness about a hundred feet behind the barn within easy walking distance of the refrigerator in case our provisions gave out. Provisions that included a big batch of Mom’s gingerbread cookies with the green frosting, a box of Oreo’s, a bag of marshmallows, a dozen doughnuts for breakfast, a big old comforter and two WWII army blankets, a jug of grape Kool Aid, a flashlight and a pile of comic books. 

We were prepared for anything except for the cry of “Me Too!” as we prepared to trek into the wilderness. Mom was always a sucker for a little kid and appealed to our better natures to include him. When we stoutly denied, saying he’d ruin the whole thing, she did the mother thing and told us that we had to take him or we couldn’t go. 

Off we went, less enthusiastic than we had been with the little one behind us whining like the transmission in a ‘36 Ford truck. 

At our camp, we prepared for the approaching gloom by lighting our campfire in the carefully prepared fire pit we had built. We had just had supper but the trek had left us a little puckish, so in about five minutes, all the provisions had disappeared. Little Brother had more than his share, eating most of the breakfast doughnuts and a half gallon of Kool Aid. 

We read comics until it got too dark to see and retired to our communal bed, army blankets under us, the quilt on top, and talked for hours.

We finally fell asleep only to be awakened in the dark of night by two sounds — rain falling and Little Brother spraying everything with projectile vomiting of purple, half-digested doughnut bits. 

We spent the rest of the night huddled under the army blankets in the chill rain outside our now unusable hut. As the beginning day light crept through the drizzle, Wild Bill sarcastically said, “I love camping in the rain.”   

Little Brother answered, “Me too.”

Thought for the week — When someone tells you that nothing is impossible, ask them to dribble a football.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Books at

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