If I were an artist, I would sit here right now and draw you a picture of the only tricycle our family ever owned. I can see it yet, all streamlined the way things like that were way back then. I think Pete must have been about five. He would zoom up and down the dirt road right in front of our house and never seemed to get tired doing it.
Nobody had a new regular bike, though, except for me! I don’t even know where it came from and how much it cost, but I do know that when Pop gave it to me for my birthday in my mid teens, Pete asked if he could borrow it and take a nice ride. Sure, why not! We always got along very well and enjoyed doing things together! I can still see him as he went pedaling down Zimmerman Road and off around the corner until he was out of sight.
The afternoon went on, and I never even thought of that bike, as I think back on it now. However, a couple hours after he left, a car stopped on the road, and Pete got out. He really was shaken up, and I couldn’t figure out what had happened. Finally, the light dawned. Pete had returned, but not on his own, and there was no bike. Pete had never been the kind of kid to falter or back off or let his emotions overcome him. Well, not till that moment, and maybe ever after, I don’t know. We kids didn’t hug in those early days, no hugs for family, even, so I just told Pete after he had explained what had happened, that all would be OK. After all, he was my “baby” brother, and I thought he was pretty neat. And what had happened to the bike? As I remember, he was going pretty fast when he came to a stop sign, and just couldn’t stop. A driver who must have thought about what would happen to “that kid who was going too fast to stop” slowed down enough before he hit the bike that Pete wasn’t hurt when the bike went down. Now the bike? That was a different story and it was never was repaired.
I have already written about the following experience in a blog about brother Rich, but here it is again for any new readers. I know for sure that it is true, because I still have the scar to prove the story. Four of us kids, Rich, Pete, Skeets, and I, were paddling along in the creek where the water had dammed up a bit. In order to dry out, we had plunked ourselves on the big wooden planks that made up the walkway along the rows of rose bushes Pop had planted for Mom.As we were enjoying the warmth, Pete got up and was swinging a little hatchet in his hand. As he came a little closer to me, Rich called out, “Hit her with it, Pete! Hit her with it!” I know he never in the world thought that Pete would comply with the orders, but he did, and Mom had another job of fixing up my many encounters with my brothers! She just wiped off the blood, cleaned up the cut, put egg white on it, and wrapped a piece of white cloth around it. Didn’t take long to heal, but I hate to think of how it might have been had he chopped a little lower. It would have been good-bye to my sight in that right eye.
When Pete was in high school, he was on the debate team and took top honors for his presentations. The strange part was that he could debate on either side of the question, and he always won either way! Maybe he got a lot of practice as he was growing up; being the youngest with four older brothers and two sisters, he had to stick up for himself with all he had in him, or he might not get another chance.
I can’t remember which brother came up with the idea of teasing Pete about being the end of the line, but this is what he was told by whichever brother it was: “You might not have known that Ma and Pop had a plan for their kids. The first two were brothers, Roy and Ed. Then came two girls, who died as babies. After that two more boys, Frank and Rich, were born. Then the expected two girls, Sis and Skeets. After you were born, the pattern was broken. Who knows why? Probably because they didn’t want another one like you!”
Now as I think about it today, whoever made up that big story of the perfect pattern wasn’t trying to be hard on Pete. Just having a little fun! Fortunately, Pete could laugh at himself…and the joke! – CHRIS