My big brother, Richard Glen, is four years older than I am. He’s just older enough for me to have always looked up to him. He’s always been there for me.
My very first recollection was when I was about three or four years old. We lived in a house that didn’t have enough bedrooms! So Richard and I shared a bedroom. I went to sleep every night knowing my big brother was in a bed near by and I felt safe!
When we were kids, back in the 40’s, he had a tall stack of comic books! He was very possessive of them. We, my sister, Lorraine, younger brother, Billy and I couldn’t just pick up a comic book and start reading. Oh no, we had to ask permission to read one! Then we had to put it back on the pile when we finished! I’m sure our mother appreciated the fact that Richard’s comic books were never just laying around waiting to be picked up! I was just seven years old, and he, 11, called with a gruff voice, “Anita!”
Oh no, what did I do now?
“See my comic books?” he asked sternly.
I nodded, searching through my mind, had I sneaked one to read lately? I don’t think so…I couldn’t remember…
“Well, pick out which ever one you want to read!” he ordered with a friendly grin! “But…take care of it and put it back when you’re done!” OH, okay, I could do that!
Richard was very responsible. From the time he was in sixth grade he always had a job! Covington, Oklahoma: sweeping the floor of the newspaper print shop and recycling lead free linotype cymbals! East Peoria, Illinois: an early morning paper route. Waterloo, Iowa: a grocery store carrying groceries and stocking shelves.
One year for Christmas Dad and Mother gave Richard a new, used Schwinn bicycle. He was so excited. It was bright red, it didn’t really matter that it didn’t have fenders. But, because Richard worked and made a little money, he was able to buy new fenders. Shiny chrome fenders!
One day, some boys after school, were picking on him, trying to pull his bike away from him! I saw them and was horrified! They couldn’t do that to my big brother! I ran toward the boys. When I reached them I started hitting and kicking, yelling all the while, “Leave my brother alone! Get away from him, That’s his bike!”
I don’t remember how it turned out. I do remember the reprimanding I got from Richard, later at home. He told me he could fight his own battles, and I was never, under any circumstances, ever to fight for him again!
When we moved to East Peoria, Illinois in 1948 Richard again went to work! This time he was hired as a paperboy delivering the early morning paper! He had to get up very early every morning! I got up early a couple of times to go on his route with him. It wasn’t even light out, but he was faithful and his customers appreciated him. I felt proud making the rounds with him. I should have gone with him more often…but it was soooo hard to get up soooo early!
Richard had a dark room where he developed pictures from our Kodak brownie cameras! He patiently explained the whole process to me. I was impressed! He was so intelligent!
But Richard had a problem. He stuttered. He just recently told me how he overcame this embarrassing, uncontrollable problem. We moved often which meant new schools, new friends, new jobs, new church, etc. During our childhood we never lived in a house longer than three years! It was hard on all of us kids but it was our life. It was hardest on Richard though because of his stuttering. Some letters were harder to say then others. He could hardly get out the letter R, so he took the nickname, Dick, although he’s always been Richard to Mother and me.
But Richard had a teacher in East Peoria who recognized his problem of stuttering because she’d had the problem when she was a girl and a teacher helped her overcome it. She talked to Richard about it and offered to help him, if he would let her.
Thankfully, he did let her and what a difference she made for him! No more stuttering after a few months of working with her. He ended up with an A in English. Later in life he became an actor, preacher, radio announcer, etc.!
Continued as part 2.