Partners in crime of the worst ilk, that’s what my little brother Francis and I were. We were the youngest children in a family of four. Each of us inherited the super genes for “bad ideas” and “how to drive your parents crazy in 60 seconds or less.” Miraculously, we were not banished to “Reform School.”

Brother and sister outside in winter

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Just exactly what did we do? I have forgotten most of it, but here are a few of our adventures.

  • Francis used to hide and throw rocks at me every time I went outside. He was West Head’s version of the rock-throwing hillbilly Ernest T. Bass on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
  • Francis revved up his toy cars and stuck them in my hair. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Mooooommmmm!
  • Mom made me take Francis with me when I played at a cousin’s house. I got even by walking as fast as the wind so he couldn’t keep up with me.
  • Tattling (Part Truth/Part Lies) on everything he did gave me great satisfaction.
  • He mimicked me. If I said, “Mom, can I have a cookie?” He copied me in a mocking voice, “Mom, can I have a cookie?”
  • We got in fights over who could have the bubbles and fizz at the bottom of Mom’s milkshake.

On other occasions we had “bad ideas” on steroids. They belonged in the basket of “disastrous ideas.”

Every Saturday, Mom mixed up bread and set it on the warming oven to rise. When she wasn’t looking, Francis and I snitched some bread dough to eat. We rolled the dough into tiny balls between our impish hands and promptly changed our mind. Instead of eating the balls of dough, we threw them as hard as we could at the painted kitchen ceiling and wallpaper. It was a contest to see whose piece would stick the longest. The dough left greasy spots everywhere the dough balls landed and could never be removed.

Bread dough on counterIt is a grave understatement to say that Mom was not amused. You can be sure that fire flew from her eyes and her ear-splitting response began with, “You two birds……….Just wait until your father comes home! ” but it did little to deter us.

Speaking of grease, we dreamed up “The Vaseline Eating Contest.” Yes, you read correctly. Not just a dab, but gobs and gobs of it. We had no clue what petroleum was. I don’t recall any nasty side effects other than a few extra trips to the outside toilet. We were “regular” for some time — if you know what I mean.

From time to time, our antics backfired on us.

Of all our foolish antics, I think The Minard’s Liniment Experiment topped the list. This was an over-the-counter remedy made of substances like gum of camphor, water of ammonia, salts of ammonia and spirit of turpentine. The potion came in a glass bottle with a ball-shaped, felt dabber for applying the liniment to aching muscles. Forget about aching muscles; we decided to use it like lipstick.  Bad, bad idea! Our lips were on fire for hours, even days! In our defense, we were smart enough to know that was a stupid idea.

Burning Lips

We came up with these ideas on our own. I shudder to think of what might have happened if we had had the internet at our fingertips.

And then Francis and I became teenagers and everything changed. Scales dropped from our eyes and we liked each other. No, we loved each other. We abandonned the rock fights, the tattling, the mimicking, and the hare-brained shenanigans.

Francis is a devoted husband and father and a hard-working fisherman — a man of many talents; just ask Wendy and Maria. At our family gatherings, he’s the life of the party as an impersonator and stand-up comic. He can spin a yarn like a pro. A couple of my favourites are “Francis Goes to Court for Using Lead Shells” and “Deaf, Mute Man Reports Lobster Poaching Incident.”

It is unthinkable that we are 57 and 60 and our children are adults.

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”
(Marjorie Pay Hinckley)

♥♥♥♥ Love you to the moon and back, little brudder. ♥♥♥♥