Ola is my second older sister. Jeanie is the oldest. My brother Junior is next, followed by my sister, Margie. I am the youngest, and I am here to tell you that being the baby of the family is really tough. All of the older ones try to tell you what to do. Jeanie always took care of me when I was little, so I tried not to give her any trouble.
I think I was about seven when this happened. Ola was probably about sixteen. I knew she wasn’t feeling very good. She had been in bed a couple of days, and she had a boil right on the end of her nose. It was summer, so we were out of school. Almost every day we had friends over to our house to play. I’m sure we got loud a few times. She would start to yell.
“You kids be quiet! I’m trying to sleep!” she yelled.
“We are being quiet,” I said.
“I’m going to tell Mother on you kids, Ruthie.”
“We didn’t do anything yet.”
“If I have to get up and call Mother, you will be sorry. Why can’t you be good?”
“I am being good. You are just in a bad mood.”
“You kids better go outside right now!”
“Okay, we’re going! We’re going! Give us time!”
I told all the kids we had to go outside to play. So we put all the color books up, and we all went out to the side of the house in the shade. We were just sitting there talking and trying to decide what to do. We played Twenty Questions for a while. Then we played I Spy. There were four of us girls: Margie, Annie, Novelene, and me.
“Let’s play jacks,” I said.
“That’s a good idea, Ruthie,” Annie said.
“I’ll go in and get the jacks,” I said.
I tried to be real quiet when I went in to get the jacks, but the screen door squeaked pretty loud. As soon as I went in, Ola began to yell at me. I just tried to hurry and get the jacks and the ball and get out of there. I found them and went back outside. We always played jacks on the front porch because it was cement. We also played with a golf ball because it bounced better. We probably got a little bit loud as we were playing. The golf ball made more noise than a rubber ball on the cement.
We were talking and laughing, too, just as little girls do. We were having fun, and then I heard Ola yelling for us to be quiet. I was sure getting tired of her yelling at us. I was to the point that I didn’t care who she called.
“I’m getting ready to call Mother, Ruthie, if you kids can’t be quiet!”
“I don’t care who you call, Ola. I am sick of you today.”
“Do you want a spanking, little girl?”
“Who’s going to give it to me? Not you, ‘cause you’re sick.”
“I’m coming out there, Ruthie.”
“I’m coming in there, Ola. I have had it with you today.”
I went in the door, and she was just coming out of the bedroom. She started to say something to me, and I just doubled up my fist and poked her right on the end of her nose. Boy, did she let out a yell when I did that! Well, she pushed me too far. She got me mad, and she shouldn’t have done that. I had tried all day to please her, and I was just sick of her and her whining about her nose. She got mad then!
“You little brat! I’m calling Mother right now!”
“Call whoever you want, you big cry baby.”
“Mother is gonna give you a spanking when she gets home.”
“So what? I’ve had lots of spankings. You can’t scare me.”
She was on the phone talking to Mother. She told her that I poked her in the nose. She was just crying and crying. I didn’t feel sorry for her. She nearly drove me crazy that day. She needed a poke in the nose. She handed me the phone.
“Mother wants to talk to you,” she said.
I took the phone from her. “Hello,” I said.
“Ruthie, when I get home, you are in big trouble for hitting your sister.”
“I mean it, little girl. You better straighten up and be good until I get home.”
“I won’t hit her again,” I said.
“You better not hit her again. You’re in enough trouble now.”
“Okay, I hear you.”
I hung up the phone and I looked at Ola. I could see stuff coming out of the boil on her nose. It looked really bad.
“You better look in the mirror. Something is coming out of that thing on your nose.”
“Oh, no! What did you do?”
She ran to look in the mirror to look at her nose, and she cried even louder. About this time Daddy came in the back door from work. She went running to show him what I did. He was looking at it, and he opened the dresser drawer and took out a pair of tweezers. He told her to be still. He took the tweezers and got hold of something on the end if her nose. He pulled just a little bit and a big thing popped right out of the boil. She yelled again.
“What was that?” I asked.
“It was the core of the boil.”
“See, cry baby. I helped your ugly nose.”
“What did you do Ruthie?” Daddy asked.
“I poked her in the nose because she was driving me crazy today.”
“I called Mother and told her,” Ola said.
“You’re probably in trouble, Ruthie,” said Daddy.
“She should be in trouble! She’s a brat!”
“Now, she’s not so bad. She got the core out of that boil when she hit you. Your nose will get well now,” Daddy said.
“I don’t care if I am in trouble. It was worth it to punch you in the nose.”
“You see how she is, Daddy? She’s a little brat.”
“That’s enough now, Ola. She isn’t that bad. “
It was almost time for Mother to get home from work. I was outside helping Daddy water his garden. I was also getting prepared to get my spanking. Ola was just a pain in my backside. Most of the time we got along pretty good, but not that day.
I could see Mother walking down the path to the house. She rode the bus to Twenty-Third Street, and then she walked about eight or nine blocks home. I felt bad because I had made her mad that day. She worked so hard, and then I had to be bad and make her come home and give me a spanking. I had to stop losing my temper. She came into the backyard and was giving me a mean look.
“Come in the house, Ruthie.”
I looked at Daddy, pleading with him to go in with me. He didn’t move though, so I walked in all by myself ready to take my punishment.
When we got inside the house, there was Ola, just waiting to tell what I did. She told Mother the whole story again. I just sat there and listened. I wanted to punch her in the nose again. She was such a cry baby.
“Tell me what happened, Ruthie,” Mother said.
“She was driving me crazy. So, when she called me a brat, I poked her in her ugly nose.”
“That’s enough of that kind of talk now,” she said.
“Let me look at your nose, Ola.”
“It really hurts, Mother.”
“Well, it looks like when Ruthie poked you in the nose, the core came out.”
“That’s what Daddy said,” Ola said.
“Daddy pulled on it with some tweezers, and it popped right out,” I said.
“Does it hurt less now than it did?”
“Yes, I think so. But Ruthie still needs a spanking for what she did!”
“But I helped your nose. You said it hurt less now. So the poke in the nose I gave you is just what you needed.”
“Listen to her, Mother. She really is a brat! Worse than I thought.”
“And you’re the biggest cry baby I ever saw.”
“That’s enough now. No more name calling. Ruthie, you go to the bedroom.”
“I just can’t stand you, Ola. You stink.”
“Go right now, Ruthie,” Mother said.
I went into the bedroom and tried to muster up all my courage to get my spanking. I knew it would probably be worse because I don’t know how to shut my mouth. The youngest child is always in defensive mode. We have to be. All the other kids are older and bigger. We have to learn how to defend ourselves. Mother came into the room and sat down on the bed beside me.
“Ruthie, do you think you need a spanking?”
“No. I think Ola needs a spanking for being so mean to us today.”
“Did you hit your sister in the nose?”
“Yes, I did. She made me do it.”
“How did she make you do it?”
“She called me a brat like Junior does all the time. So I had to poke her in the nose.”
“No, you didn’t have to. You wanted to because she made you mad.”
“Yes, she sure did make me mad.”
“You have to learn to control your temper, Ruthie.”
“I am sorry Ruthie, but I have to spank you. You have to stop getting so mad that you hit people.”
She got a belt out of the closet and told me to bend over the bed. I bent over, and she hit me one time. I was waiting for the next hit, but it didn’t come. I looked up at her, and she threw the belt on the bed.
“Are we done?”
“Yes, we are done, Ruthie. Get ready for supper.”
I couldn’t believe I got only one lick. I didn’t know why. She looked at me like she didn’t want to spank me. I guess she thought Ola needed a poke in the nose, too. What started out as a not-so-good day turned into a pretty good day in the life of little Ruthie.