Working on the Senior Citizen History Project (here) has necessitated sorting through hundreds of old family photographs to find just the right ones to illustrate each page of text. This is not a job for the faint of heart (or the short of time). Every photo elicits memories within memories. For instance:
This was taken shortly after I was brought home from the hospital. That's my three year old brother FP in the foreground, the one with his arm across his forehead in, "Jeez, do we have to keep her?" mode.
Not only had my mother been away for two weeks, she came home carrying a squalling, wet, no-fun-at-all baby sister. Poor FP. Things did not get better as I got older. I was a selfish, prying, demanding little kid, wanting whatever FP was playing with at the moment. "Give it to Nin-nin," was my battle cry.
"I'll give it to Nin-nin," my mother would say through gritted teeth, her hands itching to deposit me in a room by myself until I shaped up. (Apparently my Memere had no qualms about administering swift justice. When she caught me biting her precious FP's ear in order to wrest a toy from him, she chased me around her house with a leather clothes whip!)
When he was four, FP was offered a deal too good to pass up. The chicken feed man who supplied my father's chicken farm with sacks of grain offered to buy me for a dollar.
CF man: "That's a cute little sister you have there."
FP: "Nah." (No way was I cute!)
CF man: "She'd just about fit into one of these empty sacks, don't you think?"
FP: "Yeah." His eyes must have lit up at the thought.
This conversation was overheard by my father who, though a bit taken aback, stayed quiet to see what would develop.
CF man: "I'll give you a dollar for her."
The chicken man reached in the back of his pickup truck for an empty burlap sack. Then he reached into his wallet for a dollar bill. FP must have had a change of heart as he took the bill. Perhaps he realized that I was about to be hauled off in a sack and that might not necessarily be a good thing. He began to cry. My mother came out to see what he was howling about.
"FPC!" she exclaimed, using all three of his names as my father explained. "You give that man his money back right now! You can't sell your sister!" At which point my brother forfeited the dollar and was marched into the house for a half hour in the punishment chair (another memory offshoot for another time).
That was the official version that was handed down with other family lore. My brother now claims he remembers another ending. He says the chicken feed man offered him $10 and the only reason he started to cry was because he thought for that amount of money he might have to go along to help take care of me.