After some trial and error, Mom found a reliable one in Sheila who lived a few blocks away. I wasn't so sure about this Sheila. She always seemed nervous and her hands would shake when she tried to pincurl me and my sister's hair after our Saturday night bath. She kept coming back to babysit, though, and our complaints to Mom about her lousy hairdressing skills fell on deaf ears.
On a cool, October day Dad started getting prepped for winter by taking down the screens from all the windows. He had been working his way around the house installing the storm windows but wasn't quite finished with the job before he and Mom had to get ready for a night on the town. All handsome and beautiful, Dad put a final splash of Old Spice on and Mom's lipstick square of toilet paper smiled from the bowl. A little peace and quiet without their kids was imminent and sure enough Sheila and Her Nerves ding-donged at the door.
All day the boys had been pestering Mom to go to a football game at the nearby high school with some of their friends that night but Mom refused. "Sheila's coming and she doesn't need to worry about where you boys are so you're all staying home." There was some groaning and protesting but she didn't budge. "And you boys better behave," she said to them as her and Dad walked out the door to a few hours of freedom.
Jean and I took our baths and then Sheila started the painful, drawn out process of pincurling our hair with her shaky hands. By the time she finished we both looked like a head full of television antennas with the bobby pins going this way and that.
The boys went to bed soon after us and in record time the house was quiet as a church with Sheila at the helm.
But while Jean and I drifted off to sleep, some friends of the boys came to their bedroom window at the back of the house to get them to go to the football game. The boys stuffed their beds with clothes to make it appear as though someone was in them, opened up the window (free of the screens or storms windows) and shimmied their way down the side of the house. All according to plan, they were back in bed and fast asleep before Mom and Dad even got home.
The next day when we got up the boys were already sitting at the table bright and early with a notepad in front of them. Dad was so mad at them that I thought he was going to drop them off at the orphanage like he kept talking about. Instead, he told them to write down everything, and he meant EVERYTHING, that had happened the night before. Jim's version (I think I left the toilet seat up.) and Terry's (I had a bottle of pop and might have left the cap on the counter.) differed greatly from Tom's who was filling up pages of notes regarding the alleged crime, including detailed drawings of the two neighborhood kids that crawled through the bedroom window after the game and hid under the bed until, Fritz, the blind dachshund sniffed them out and started barking.
Jean and I didn't know what was going on until Mom told us that when Sheila went in to check on the boys they were gone and she thought they'd been kidnapped. By the time they got home she was beside herself, a nervous wreck shaking and crying over three boys in her care who had disappeared and then reappeared.
I couldn't imagine who would want those delinquents and I wasn't defending them, but I did tell Mom that Sheila was nervous long before they went missing as evidenced by my bad pincurl job. "Oh for God's sake, Kathy, not now," is all Mom had to say about that.
Dad put the boys on a work release program that lasted for years and after that Mom said we were old enough to be on our own. Well, that and because no teenage girl within a 30 mile radius of Chicago would agree to watch her godawful kids.
It wasn't long before there was a dinner dance at church and off they went - Mom all dressed up and wearing her lipstick and Dad smelling good and carrying the suitcase of scotch. "I'm expecting you kids to be responsible now," Mom said. "And you'd better behave yourselves," she added as her and Dad walked out the door.
And that was the night that the Indoor Dodgeball Tournament started.
|Tom, our cousin Mike, Terry & Jim before they were delinquents.|