12 yrs, 2 mo, 17 days…

The kid packed a lot of life into 12 years, 2 months and 17 days. I’m on the cusp of observing my 70th birthday, yet he was awarded a mere 12 birthday celebrations here on earth. Wasn’t fair. Even worse, I was 4-1/2 years younger than him so I got shortchanged. The rest of the family had him longer than me, his biggest fan. I missed so much of his tragically short life.

Larry 2, with that gorgeous shock of white/blonde hair, 1948…

The house where I hatched (youngest of 3) was on the west edge of town. Not a lot of homes or kids, so many days I followed him from sun up until the lightening bugs did their ritual dance in our backyard at dusk. He didn’t complain about his bratty little sister stalking him. He was my protector, advocate, friend and the boy who stopped me from eating rabbit turds beneath their cage when I was not yet 2 because someone convinced me they were raisins.

Mona 10, Larry 7, me 2-1/2 in 1953 on the west side of Rock Valley…

Because he was older, after we moved near the heart of Rock Valley’s downtown area, he could go farther from home with his friends, be away longer and stay out later. Trips to the sandpit, shooting his BB gun at the dump, exploring the Rock River, bike rides out in the country to look for wildlife, find new places to catch pigeons while I was not yet in school. Still, he often had friends over to our house (backyard usually). Our long driveway was mostly hardened pea gravel, with a few blades of grass and weeds in the center where no tires tread. Which made a perfect spot for shooting a game of marbles. I never understood the game, but Larry was a great southpaw shooting marbles. I watched him and his friends from the living room window, teasing and arguing as coveted marbles moved from one player to another.

Larry 5, in front of our new playhouse dad built, 1951…

After he died Mom would periodically take out Larry’s marbles and other mementoes. I think it was one way of keeping his memory close to us. We’d hold the marbles, remembering ones that were his favorites. His marbles were in a large tin can with a lid. I don’t remember if it was an old coffee can but it was heavy. Shooters, cats eyes, agates, clearies, pearlies. I believe Mom gave away his marbles, comic books and baseball cards. I imagine the cards (and comic books) would fetch some serious cash now, sporting baseball players from the 1950’s. Wish I had some displayed in my antique bookcase where I keep the things that were important to him. When Mom passed away I brought Larry’s clothes, trinkets, billfold, (filled with classmates school pictures), his baseball glove and BB gun home with me.

Larry’s stuff, love the bow tie…

Larry borrowed my bike on that beautiful fall Saturday morning, because it had a basket. As he was peddling away from our house, he turned and yelled, assuring me he would give me a dime (and a surprise) when he got back for letting him use my bike. (He never made it home).

Dad and Larry in 1948…

He was hauling some stuff he bought from town to our grandparent’s house on highway 18. Highway 18 was a wicked stretch of road. Why someone would design highway roads with added curbs was puzzling. In this case, deadly. I’ve heard many renditions of Larry’s accident. The version always given to me by my parents was a car’s tire caught that curb, which made the car swerve up on the shoulder where Larry was riding, striking him and killing him instantly. Flung far from Larry’s lifeless body was my broken bike with a caramel apple near it (my surprise for him using my bike).

Larry 4-1/2 watching over his new baby sister, early 1951…

Though I was not yet 8, there are many things about Larry which remain crystal clear to this day. I remember how he talked. He always called mom Mother but couldn’t pronounce his r’s, so it come out like ‘mu-tha,’ or quarter rolled off his tongue like ‘quaw-ta.’ Larry picked out and brought our Christmas tree home after we moved. I believe there were fresh trees for sale near the Western Auto across from Koster’s grocery store. For Christmas one year he bought Mom (mu-tha) an 8 inch frying pan and lid from money he earned catching and selling pigeons. That pan was her pride and joy for years, even after the black composite handle fell off in chunks leaving bare metal, which got hotter than a pistol, so you had to use pot holders all the time. She always made our popcorn in that pan, shaking it back and forth over the gas burner, dividing it up in bowls, then melting real butter in the pan for our popcorn topping.

Me, Larry and Spitzy in 1954…

I can still picture him and dad in the backyard playing catch. Larry was the only lefty in our family and it looked odd to have him throw left handed and wear his glove on his right. He was crazy about our mutt, Spitzy and the feeling was mutual. Larry was the only one who slept downstairs, so Spitzy stayed with him at night.

Mona 14, Larry 11, Mom 31, me 6, summer of 1957…

He would take a couple of his baseball cards and attach them to the bicycle frame next to the spokes (with a clothes pin)? so it made this clicking noise. All the boys did it. (Hope it wasn’t a Mickey Mantle rookie). There were days we ‘went to town’ together after school, stopping at the dime store to buy candy, doled out by weight on a scale. We each got a good sized bag of Malt balls, chocolate covered peanuts or chocolate stars for a nickel.

Larry 11, me almost 7, Mona 14 and Dad 40 in 1957…

But there are some things about Larry which I no longer remember either. For the life of me, I can’t picture him eating at our supper table. (Our family sat down for supper together every night). I want to see him eating left handed so bad, but it’s just not there. After I started school, I don’t remember walking to school with him ever. I only went for half days during kindergarten and I can remember walking with 2 neighbor boys, Arlyn and Gary but never Larry. I think he probably rode his bike.

Mona 15, Larry 12, me 7-1/2, summer of 1958…

So some memories of Larry remain fresh while others remain just out of my grasp. While he wasn’t a part of my life for very long, he left a lasting impression. I miss him still-even more on the day of his death-62 years later…

My favorite school picture of Larry, maybe 3rd grade…

6 thoughts on “12 yrs, 2 mo, 17 days…

  1. I was at home when we heard the sad news about Larry’s death. My Dad was very quiet, his head down, not really knowing what more to say. He worked with your dad and we were neighbors. It didn’t seem right not seeing Larry in the neighborhood any more. Thank you for sharing your story about Larry. It always makes me choke up a bit… just doesn’t seem right. He was always a polite, quiet kid. Sorry for the loss of your brother. The picture you shared is exactly how I remember him. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. I’ve never thought about how difficult it must have been to work with mom and dad in the months following Larry’s death. Not knowing if you should talk about him and if so, what do you say? I was in second grade so young enough that my classmates didn’t talk about Larry at school. And all my teachers for several years watched out for me. (Small, caring town). Yup the pictures for this story were great, even the ones lined with creases. Thanks for reading and commenting John…

      Like

    • Thanks Diana, Larry was very important to me although not in my life long enough. Since I’m not getting any younger I feel compelled to write down everything about Larry that I remember. He’s the reason I started blogging…

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s