“If you have one true friend, you have more than your share.” ~ Thomas Fuller
Patti Ann had long, shiny strawberry-blond hair. It was such a rare shade, which was bestowed upon only a select few, and its hue had powers to mesmerize you. Being Italian, many heads of hair in our family were sporting the typical Italian color palette of locks. Shades of medium chestnut to a deep espresso brown-black (except for my mom, of course, who enjoyed showing off her gorgeous thick mane of true red).
Patti Ann’s her younger John had a vibrant head of reddish hair, but this pair represented only two of the four Sullivan children (the other two boys had dark brown hair). Looking back, I often wonder if the postman, or perhaps a handsome neighbor had red hair. The Sullivan house was adjacent to our back yard, so we could just cut across the tiny little maze of bushes and, VIOLA! we’d be in their backyard. Life always seemed a bit more fun at PattiAnn’s yard, because they had a three foot above ground pool, a sandbox, a stand-alone playhouse in the backyard and these funny-looking pet rabbits – the kind with snow white fur and those “conjunctivitis-looking” neon pink eyes. Patti Ann was allergic to most animals, so I guess an outdoor rabbit in a wooden hutch was about it as far as furry creatures were concerned. I remember seeing her after one of her routine visits to the allergist, and she’d come home with all these red dots drawn all over her body – it was such a foreign concept to me, mysterious and utterly fascinating (what did this madman doctor do to her, stick her with needles everywhere?)
(Italian Lesson: my best friend = mia migliore amica)
Patti Ann was just a mere year older than me, and we had many of the same interests, so we used to hang out a lot together playing records and board games like Operation, Candy Land and our personal favorite, Mystery Date (The Dating Game version for girls). The best version was our own Dating Game which was played on Patti Ann’s kitchen chalkboard. We would sit on the floor next to her basement steps, taking turns drawing three “bachelors” each with very different looks. Usually one was a clean cut cute guy, one was a total long-haired hippe flower-child and one a total geeky nerd. These bachelors would answer questions from the girl making the selection and whomever was playing the part of the guys, would make different voices for each character and answer typical Dating Game questions, like “what is your idea of a great first date?” “what do you look for in a girl?” and “what hobbies do you have?” – it was pretty funny. Ahhhh, so innocent we were.
A but more on the quirky side were my ideas of pretend games and made-up scenerios. My two favs were Orphanage and Sunday Mass. Orphanage goes like this: we’d hang out in my huge playroom on Lehigh Street and just play with toys, games, cars, etc. pretending we were orphans. When mom brought us lunch, we’d pretend it was our porridge or rations and sometimes, when a few of us were in the playroom, one of us would play the parent coming in to look and select their orphan. Where the heck did I come up with that?
Sunday Mass was fun as well. I received a pretty white leather book for my communion which had the entire Catholic Mass written in it, so my cousin Tracy and I would “play” Mass once in awhile. I was the priest of course, and Tracy was my congregation. I would even make my own communion wafers, by making quarter-size disks from the middle of a slice of Wonder Bread (plain store brand white bread if money was tight). I would seriously dispense communion and read the priest’s part from my little book and my congregation (of one) would reply when asked.
Follow me! Single File!
The four of us, me, PattiAnn, Tracy and John would usually be playing together and we’d look forward to our Sunday strolls to a little soda and burger shop named Lobb’s, which was a walk up the “big” Baker Street hill to the next town called Wharton. This great little family soda shop had it all! Bottle Cap candy, Kung Fu and Wacky Pack cards, Bazooka Joe gum, lemon-flavored sugar in a straw, all the Cheez-Its we could spend our nickels on, and wash it all down with a cherry coke! Getting there was another matter of business. Patti Ann (who I will now start referring to as Pat) still tells me to this day that I reminded her of the Lucy character from the Charlie Brown’s Peanuts gang, because I was a bit bossy and made the crew follow me up Baker Hill, single file. Perhaps I was a Lucy Van Pelt-ish drill sergeant, but I kept our walks neat and orderly. We always managed to have fun on our little adventures to Wharton.
Once, on one of our walks we found a middle-aged scruffy looking bearded man sitting in the driver’s side of his old puke-green Chevy Malibu with his ding-a-ling hanging there, just perched in his lap as if it stuck its head out for a little air! We told our parents who probably called the police about it. On future walks I’d be on the lookout for the perv’s pukemobile, but I never spotted the dirty ol’ dude “hanging” out on any future Sunday walk.
Not a care in the world!
Yes, her hair still looks fabulous, now get back to the home of Madness: www.madnessmomandme.com.
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