Because my mother and father were divorced when I was very young, I’ve never met anyone on his side of the family. That means that the only first cousins my sister and I have ever known are my mother’s sister’s two girls. The older of the two is Karen, who is the same age as my sister. She is known as “Sissy” to her little sister, Susan, who is ten years younger and now known in our family as Suey. Their family lived in Virginia Beach, and my sister and I always thought they had the perfect life.
My mom worked, so she shipped us off to stay with her only sister’s family during the summer months. Our family in Virginia lived on a bay, had a boat, belonged to a country club, and their neighbors had a swimming pool…our summers there felt like we had somehow ended up in paradise.
I talked with Suey recently, and she requested that I write about a time that the cousins came to visit us in South Carolina. They didn’t come down often (it wasn’t nearly as fun as their own part of the world), but my cousin remembered the time they visited when she was about two and a half years old. Her Sissy and my sister Lynnie were twelve, and I was around thirteen. Suey’s big memory, and the request for this post, was the time that we all played out The Wizard of Oz in all its glory..it’s my only memory of that visit, and it seems to have stuck with all of us.
I’m not sure why we decided to stage such a lavish production, but we all put a lot of energy into getting our parts just right. The living room of the house I grew up in was our stage, and I’m sure the neighbors could hear us emoting and singing our hearts out! My sister Lynnie had to be the cowardly lion…it’s always been her favorite character in the story, and I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t take any other role. Our neighbor Cathy (who always got the best parts) was Dorothy, Sissy was the scarecrow, Suey was Toto, I was Glinda (the good witch of the North), and Mama was the evil wicked witch of the West.
We managed to make it work without a tin man, I guess…unless one of us did a dual role, but I really don’t remember. What I do remember is my sister’s spot-on lion (“If I were king of the fore-e-e-est…“) and Suey climbing around on the floor, playing a pretty darn good terrier. I was (naturally) a perfect Glynda, and I know that Sissy was a wonderful scarecrow with her long legs and limber moves. It actually makes me laugh out loud now to think of my sweet little Mama playing a mean old green witch, siccing those damn flying monkeys on us! (In this particular case, it should probably have been the wicked witch of the South…”Now, ya’ll know you need to give me those shoes….my pretties!”)
I wish I could remember more of the details of this story, but for now you’ll just have to settle for a very, very badly photo-shopped picture of me as Glynda, the good witch. You’re welcome.