August 3, 2001: Today is my sister Gerry's birthday and after talking with her on the phone, (she lives in Michigan) I thought what better time than now to write this one. Even though the book is about brothers, this chapter has been in the master plan since the idea first struck, and who's to say that girls can't play too? Not me.... never said it, never even thought it!


Geraldine Marjorie Joseph came into this world 4 years before Butchie and 7 before me. So you can do the math if you want to and figure out how old she is. (I was born in '47) Those who have read some of the earlier things I've written, have already been somewhat introduced to her, but I want to tell you a couple of tales to elaborate on what it was like growing up with her.

They tell me that I was too young to remember ( I wasn't ) but when I was real young and we still lived in the city, she was pretty mean to me. She really wasn't , she would get Butchie to be mean to me. She just was "the brains behind the operation". For example two incidents happened in Hollis Woods, a place we went on picnics near South Ozone Park. There were lots of family gathered, aunts uncles and cousins, so under the cover of all the confusion, she told Butchie to " take me for a walk in the woods and see if he could loose me " Butch who was only around 5 himself tried, but I found my way back....a pretty mean thing true, but probably she had no idea of what could of possibly happened.

Thwarted there, all the kids were playing around the family cars, when she got her next brainstorm. "Butch close the car door on Kenny's fingers or else" You don't want to know "what else" meant for poor Butch, so he complied. I screamed , Mom and the aunts came running and the end result was more attention for poor Kenny....which was what drove Gerry around the bend to begin with. I was pretty sick as a baby and seemed to be the main focus of my mothers attention.

Well most of that passed after we got out in the country. That first winter we all kind of played together, because we were the only kids around. Come summertime she met her own gang of summer kids and Butchie and me saw less and less of her. Gerry's gang of three, Brenda, Emily and Betty Anne came over once in awhile and that seemed to be when there was trouble, at least for me. I had this Marx tin lithograph service station that is worth a fortune today on E Bay. It had all the accessories and the gas pumps that held water that you could pump into the generic looking post war cars that came with it. I think I got it for Christmas, but this incident happened around the fourth of July. Butchie and me were out on our porch, it was after dinner and I had my Marx Super Service all set up on the table. Along comes Gerry and her friends and they seemed to be paying an awful lot of attention to Butchie and me. They usually never even acknowledged us. Gerry stepped out of the room and called Butch. Butchie comes back and says come here a minute and gets me out of the room though I don't recall under what pretense. I go back on the porch and start to play with the gas station when all hell breaks loose.....BAM a loud explosion stops me dead in my tracks. My service station showroom becomes a victim of a terrorist attack. The oil and tire racks are blown over, as are the attendants and the smell of gunpowder is in the air. The culprit was a firecracker that Emily had brought out from the city. There was a permanent scorch mark on the tin and a permanent scowl on my mothers face. I think Gerry got off too lightly though. I could hear her and her gang laughing outside as they went on their way.

It was around 1953 or 4 when this one happened. Again it was summertime and we were with the summer regulars the Dennings and the Yodices. That summer a new bunch of kids seemed to appear out of nowhere. They all would ride bikes from out of the west part of Elm road and pass by our house most likely on their way to the lagoon or beach one. At first it didn't seem like no big deal, but there were always these looks.They basically kind of gave us kids, dirty looks. This went on for a few times when one day either one of them or Anthony Yodice said the first word, which was probably something like "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN' AT? " They all stopped..... they all were a lot older than us and things started escalating fast. They had one kid who was definitely their leader and in this case I guess Anthony was ours. At first I thought it was just going to be him and Anthony going at it, but soon realized it was gonna be a full scale donnybrook. Both Mary Ann and Sally Ann Yodice were eager to get involved and said somethings to further escalate the hostilities. Butchie didn't say nothing and I was kind of scared. I think Donald Denning got into the war of words and threats too.

Unbeknownst to all of us, Gerry was observing all this from the porch. She had been helping Mom wash floors and came out of the house with a mop and pail acting like she wasn't even remotely interested. As she approached the woods across the street on Elm, I thought she was just there to empty the bucket. She was, but not in the woods. Their lead guy got the whole bucket of dirty floor water and ammonia thrown on him. While he was still in total shock and humiliation, she got right in his face and told him that if he ever laid a hand on her brothers or her brothers friends, he'd get a lot worse than soaked. His gang was totally taken by surprise and they all hit the road. After that we'd see them every once in awhile, but they never even slowed up, when they rode past Gerry Joseph's turf. Our gang had something to talk about for days and a hero, Butchie and Kenny's big sister.

I mentioned in the chapter Planes, Trains and Automobiles that we owned a new Volkswagen when they were quite rare. Well the night we brought it home was a hair raiser for sure. Gerry was a junior in high school and had baby sat us for several years. Pop wanted to go show off the new car to some friends so he and our Mom went out for awhile. I remember being in bed when I felt a nosebleed coming on. Nothing new for me as I had been getting nosebleeds for years. Instead of getting up though and attending to it, I just lied there hoping it would stop by itself. It didn't and I could feel the blood slowly trickling down my throat. After around twenty minutes I knew I was in trouble. I started to get up, then sneezed and the entire bed turned red. Butchie looked at me, got white as a ghost and screamed for Gerry. Gerry came running and seemed to instinctively know what to do. She stayed calm and had Butch running washrags back and forth. This was like no nosebleed I ever had. It was a full scale hemorrhage. It must of took close to an hour to get it to stop and I really felt weakened. After she got it stopped, she changed all the sheets and had the place back to normal before our folks got home.

The next day I was in Doctor Weisen's office (The same doctor who operated on my eyes a year earlier) He said I had quite a bleeder vein and wound up cauterizing it. Not a pleasant procedure back then. When my Mom told him what had happened the night before he praised Gerry to the hilt. He said it was a good thing for me I had her there and that the medical profession could use more like her. In 1956 at the age of 16 Gerry graduated from Center Moriches High School , She would go on to do a lot of of different things including four years in the Air Force. In the late 1960's she went into nursing school and has been an RN ever since. Thanks sis and Happy Birthday.