Of course not! Mom insisted that her only son would never have etched his initials in the cement section down the street.
No, he didn’t do that!
After further consideration, Winnie and I could think of countless kids on the block who’d grown up during the fifties and whose initials were EB…with a “53” inserted right below.
What were we thinking? (snicker, snicker)
It was useless to argue with Mom. We hadn’t grown up with our brother, but the stories of his antics and friends had endured, regardless of how much Mom tried to avoid the particular anecdotes.
Better to just take into consideration the adages and superstitions that were voiced to us on Rubberneck; despite the adults’ strong religious tenets, they passed along these popular adages as just old sayings only slightly tempered by anyone with a modicum of good sense. We were to enjoy the amusing side of these possibilities; but like so many kids, we were especially aware of them on the occasional Friday the 13th:
Step on a crack, break your back!
Death comes in threes.
Don’t walk under a ladder!
Don’t cross a black cat’s path!
When someone drops a knife, it means that company is coming.
The good die young.
Chances of our walking under a ladder on any school day were moot, even though Everett, the school janitor, was ever busy maintaining the premises. We were normally too busy visiting with him; the buckets, mops, ladders and other equipment he kept in his utility closet were only extensions of who and what he did; Everett wasn’t standing anywhere that his equipment was not in use and out of our reach. We knew better than to encroach upon his space.
So, the “real danger” we perceived on any given weekday, Friday the 13th included, was the traditional motherly practice each morning when Mom checked to make sure she’d tied crisp, ironed ribbons to our braids, that we each had sweaters, and then kissed us goodbye. I don’t remember a day that Mom didn’t follow up without a
Be a good girl!
We walked out the front door and down the front steps, on our way to school less than two blocks away. As we grew older, Winifred and I began to consider some of the underlying consequences of being good…Wasn’t it Mom who shared about the good little girl who went to the same parochial elementary school in Livermore and died before they graduated? Was Mom really wishing…?
Perish the thought!
Today, I’ll more than likely drop one of my cooking utensils on the floor; wooden spoon or fork or knife – it won’t matter. Whatever hits will have to be washed, and then about the only company I’ll keep will be in the kitchen with my stock pot; after I remember to take my Prozac and toss salt over my shoulder…