Birthdays were always special. Every single birthday meant a cake, toys, and a birthday photo. Although I can't remember how old I was, one birthday that I remember well was the one when I received my Ken doll. I can't remember my age but I do remember the day. With Sandra and I, Barbie dolls were a big part of our lives. By the time this birthday came around I had Barbie, Skipper, and Midge. This year Mother bought me Ken to add to my set.
Mother continually sewed dresses for Sandra and I to wear. She often made Barbie clothes with the scraps. We were some of the few girls who had Barbie dolls with clothes to match our own dresses. There were little buttons, little eyes and hooks, and tiny snaps on the clothes. Lace and other decorations made the clothes better than most of the store-bought Barbie clothes. Ours were one-of-a-kind! We had Barbie doll cases with little hangers and more Barbie clothes than some stores.
Edith, birthday bike and Ken
But let's go back to the spot where I am standing in this photo. I am standing beside my new bicycle which is by the buffet with my cake sitting on it. I had no idea I was going to receive a bicycle that year. It was a total surprise. We had been working in the field all morning, went home for lunch, and back out to the fields to work. I knew we were going to have my cake and ice cream and I'd be able to open my presents, but for some reason the cake/present time was delayed. (Looking back, it was probably so someone could bring the bicycle out of hiding and put it in place.) Later in the afternoon Mother said we could all go in and have cake. I ran in with everyone on my heels, Mother calling out for me not to go into the house until everyone was there. When I was allowed to go in, I was so excited to see the buffet, where the cake is sitting, with presents on it. I opened a present, walked around the bike and picked up another present before it registered that I was walking around a brand new bike. Every day of the year an ironing board sat in this exact spot. I thought I was walking around the ironing board as I opened my presents. My mind didn't register that the object I was walking around was a bike until I had walked clear around it to the back of it. I can still hear the peals of laughter from everyone who was standing around when my mind finally registered the fact that they ironing board had been replaced by a brand spanking new bicycle.
Sandra ironing, Edith at the side
This is the same spot with the ironing board in its normal place, lowered for one of us gals to iron something. We learned to iron when we were young. When we were young, we begged to be able to iron. Mother would allow us to iron Daddy's handkerchiefs. When we had that down pat, we ironed his undershorts. Gradually we moved up to ironing shirts and dresses, much to our disgust. By then, ironing had become a chore. Mother wasn't the only female in our family who was thrilled when permanent press was invented.
It was normal for me not to notice things, like the bicycle where the ironing board normally sat. My mind simply isn't wired that way.
My older brother Harold and his wife Patsy were in Germany the summer of '72. They talked to Mother and Daddy and invited us to fly over for two weeks to stay with them to see that part of the world. Mother and Daddy talked about it and told us three youngest (the only ones left at home) that we were going to Germany. Daddy had to stay home and wouldn't be able to go. I was informed that the trip would have to take the place of my birthday that year. It was my 16th birthday, a very special one. I wasn't allowed to write a boy a letter until I was 16. In fact, I received my first official letter from a boy while I was in Germany. I don't remember the cake, which I'm sure that Patsy and Mother cooked for me. I did receive a couple of presents and can't remember what they were. They trip was a wonderful present. We went to Holland, France, and Switzerland. We saw windmills, the Alps, and so much more. We ate REAL Swiss cheese. Let me reword that. THEY ate real Swiss cheese. I took one bite and I've never eaten it since.
Edith, Stanley, Mother, Sandra
When we flew back into Florida, Daddy met us at the airport. I hugged Daddy and laid my head on his shoulder. Someone was taking photos of our homecoming.
Something about everyone's laughter struck me as a little different and I began to listen. Everyone was talking about Daddy not shaving. I turned to look at Daddy again. I was the only person who had not noticed that Daddy hadn't shaved for the entire two weeks we were gone.
Mother, laughing at Daddy's beard
Bottom left, Stanley was looking at Daddy's beard
To the right, I was totally oblivious
Mother always wanted Daddy to shave. This had been his only opportunity to go without shaving. The beard didn't last another day!