That cute little guy holding hands with my mother on the book cover of Coffee-Drunk Or Blind is my brother Chip, and today’s his birthday! He was only two-years-old when we traveled across the USA from Louisiana to homestead in the Alaska wilderness in 1959, and almost six when we returned. (you do the math) You’ll be surprised at what a memory he has of that time for someone so young.
With three older sisters he had to take a stand so as not to get lost in the chaos. Then a younger sister came along and he was odd man standing. What stands out in my memory of Chip, is when he broke his arm in the spring of 1959 when he opened the door of the washing machine – to ‘help’, I’m sure – and the wet sheets wrapped around his arm. Such a small little boy to have such a big cast. He also decided to fish for our gold-fish once with the tin strip off a sardine can that had to be opened with a key. I don’t know what he thought he was going to do with those fish when he caught them. Our dolls had their arms permanently outstretched as he used them for helicopters. This was probably done more to irritate us as he knew it would.
With all the grief one little boy could give to four sisters, he grew up to be a pretty good guy and is still my favorite brother!
As Chip said in his memories toward the end of the Coffee-Drunk Or Blind – “Memories are funny things, the further back in time they go, the fuzzier they seem to get. They have the tendency to get jumbled together so that they blend into something that isn’t exactly the way things actually were.”
Young and impressionable he was at that time, those memories took hold and stayed with him through the years. I believe when an event or time in your life makes such an impression in young minds, it is burned into your memory, never to be forgotten. This is what happened with all of us as we partook in this adventure. It also helped that those times were good times for us even though they were very hard on our parents.
One reason I wrote Coffee-Drunk Or Blind was because it had to be put in writing before it was all forgotten or changed into something that was not so. Even though most of mine and my siblings memories coincided with each other, dates or places may be off a bit. The event may have taken place at a different location or with a different person. You know how tales are altered as they are passed down through the years. I think we got all those stories pretty close to the truth and now the memories will be forever in writing to hand down as a legacy to our children and grandchildren.
As I read those letters over and over, I still had plenty of questions that will never be answered. We thought we knew it all, never sitting down to question time-frames or incidents. Now that chance is gone. What we have left is all in the book.