My brother made Halloween an art. He was the first person I knew who used a large pillowcase to collect treats in and by the time he got home, hours after we did, it would be filled to the brim. The following March, he’d still have his candy carefully stored and sorted out and when we were watching our allotted hour of television he’d have his treats. We begged him to share but he’d just do a sideways glance at us chewing away happily on a Tootsie-Roll or a wad of Bazooka bubble gum. He had a way of making even the emerald green lolly pops seem like a delicacy and in our household, candy was pretty much replaced with an apple instead by our mom. By the time his Halloween candy ran out, Easter came along and again, he’d eke that out too to the nth degree.
We loved playing Monopoly and my brother always won. He was always the banker and had a penchant of looking like he was losing by hiding the large bills discretely under the board. We’d feel sorry for him with our grand hotels and Monopolies, usually Baltic or Oriental and he’d say, “Thanks! My luck sure is drying out!” And at the last half hour off the game out came the bills and he bought us all out and he’d win, every single time!
His other ploy was during the summer. This kid mowed lawns like it was going out of style and then he’d buy up the local fireworks stand. Like candy, M-80’s were known to go off in September along with sporadic cherry bombs and Piccolo Pete’s. He loved saving the best for last and behold! Halloween came along again and so he’d rinse and repeat his childhood wealth and this went on for years. The childhood stuff gave way later for working hard and landing a job at Jill’s, a famous drive-in hamburger stand where we grew up and he had it all as far as we could see — great clothes, a motorcycle, a surfboard, a car, and also every imaginable album that came out in the late 60’s including a great stereo. Of course, when my sister had her senior graduation party in the cabana patio room of our home, he let her borrow his albums and stereo but he also charged her for the use also. Dave never shared willingly, only if there was a profit to be made. Dave.
I grew up thinking he was the most selfish person I ever met, and with good reason!
“Honey, if you want what I have, you need to work for it like I did.”
It’s as if Ayn Rand had secretly kidnapped my brother as a baby and had secretly raised him, unbeknownst to my parents.
In high school I excelled in tennis and skiing. He sold me a Billie Jean King designer Wilson racket for $40.00 and a pair of Olon skis including boots and and poles for $200.00.
“An absolute steal!” He was quite persuasive and I fell for it! Every time!
He waited patiently until I was a struggling college student to buy back the equipment at half the price of what he sold them to me for. Dave! But I wasn’t eating Raman noodles every night either after the humbling bargaining.
Then one night I got stuck. I was arrested for being part of a sit-in protesting a nuclear energy plant. Bail was set at $500.00 and there was no way I could ask my widowed mother for that amount of money let alone informing my widowed mother that her daughter was in jail. No one, and I mean no one in our family had ever been arrested! So I called Dave.
“You stupid-shit hippie!”
That was the first thing he said and my heart sank.
Then he said, “You must be scared as hell, where are you?” He was married, had two young children, was probably working sixteen hours a day but he drove down from the Bay Area to San Luis Obispo at 2:00 a.m. to rescue his baby sister in a holding cell.
As we drove home he was amazed that I had chained myself to a fence singing “We Shall Overcome”.
“You stupid-shit hippie”, he chimed once again but then, “I’m proud of you for standing up.”
My mom eventually found out and the story is now a mere anecdote at Thanksgiving dinners. But my brother Dave who never shared became the sharer then when I needed it the most and to this day, he does remind me of how gallant he was that rainy night. He even points out how, as dawn emerged, he also paid for a pancake breakfast and coffee too. As well he should have. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be Dave.