My brother is two years older than I am. He was born in southern California. Our mother took him with her to her hometown in North Dakota and I was born a couple months early in the middle of a snowstorm so I was not a native Californian. Something my brother held over my head all my life.
The first six years of my life, both parents did not work. We moved from place to place in a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Life changed for my brother and me when our parents went to work and we were both in school. During the school year we were driven to school in town by our mother and waited in the convent for school to begin and after school waited again in the convent for our mother to pick us up.
Summer vacations from school were total freedom for my brother and me. We were home alone all day and when our parents were there, the atmosphere was tense and things going on that my brother and I did not understand. We tried to stay quiet and out of the way when the parents were around.
During the day we watched television because we were instructed to stay inside and not go outside at all. This is where the problem started. My brother thought he being the elder child automatically made him the decider of what to watch. I wanted to watch Roy Rogers and he wanted to watch Cisco Kid. I wanted to eat lunch watching Sheriff John and he wanted to watch something else. We would fight about it. There was no remote so we would each keep jumping up and turn the channel. It's a wonder we didn't break the knob off! I know it appears I must have been a sweet docile youngster, but I wasn't. I would stand up to anyone, even my older brother.
Many times the argument over what program to watch went to such lengths that my brother would become enraged and run into the kitchen and grab a butcher knife and come after me. I would run around the house and eventually run out the back door and keep running. Now I not only had my brother ready to do away with me I now had disobeyed the rule of staying inside. My brother would lock the door and not let me back in.
Every time I see a picture of Roy Rogers I think of all the hours my brother and I were alone in a house out in the country unable to learn how to get along. The example we lived with was an alcoholic father who was legally blind and an emotionally unstable mother. We saw so much fighting and screaming and many times we pulled our father off our mother when he was choking her or burning her. We had mixed feelings ourselves because sometimes we wanted to be doing the same thing to her. And most of the time my brother and I didn't know what the other one was doing when our parents were there because we were each out somewhere hiding. Hiding our skinny little bodies soon became hiding our deprived hearts.