A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Being A Twin

Our store-bought birthday cake, circa 1964.
 I share my birthday.  I arrived at Sparks Hospital on a snowy January 18, 1956, at 12:34 p.m.  I basked in the attention and pampering only briefly, because in the middle of my moment of glory it occurred to those gathered that we were not done; in fact, another baby was in the process of being born.  Exactly ten minutes later, at 12:44 p.m., my twin sister Janet made her presence known. Yes, no one, not even Mama, knew that she was having twins.  From that moment on, the phrase "the twins" entered into the nomenclature of the Yates family.

Being a twin meant you always had a competitor and a friend.  Janet and I competed relentlessly, which was a good thing I guess because we always tried to outdo each other in terms of schoolwork, so the competition made our grades better.  Back in those days, parents got to request who they wanted for a teacher for their child, so in grades 1-6 (there was no kindergarten back in those days), we were always in the same classroom.  We could also keep an eye on each other that way, and should one of us made a misstep, the other could gleefully report it to Mama.   

Our 1964 Birthday bash.  Left to right:  Randy Bottoms, J.P.
Hicks, Terry Nichols, Terrel Scroggins, Mary Hutchens, Me,
Jannet McDonald, my sister Janet, Brenda Owens, Cindy
Douglas, Terri Watkins, and Ida Mae Smith
 The constant companionship invariably produced some conflict.  This conflict often displayed itself in a very visual way.  Our next-door neighbors Randy and Swanna Bottoms' dad, Hoss, once said that he would be sitting on his porch when he would hear our back screen door fly open, and he would witness me running with all my might through the field next to our house, with Janet close behind me swinging a broom.  There was a tree at the end of the field, and past experience had shown me that if I could reach the tree unscathed, Janet would more often than not give up and turn around.  Never much of an athlete, I honed my sprinting skills until I reached the point where I could outrun my sister.  After that point, I got a lot braver.

I mentioned our competitiveness as a factor in our school work, but it was also true that we greatly benefited by studying together.  We really did help each other, and if one of us didn't understand how to do a math problem, the other could most often explain it.  Mama had a blackboard mounted to the wall in the bedroom, and we would spend lots of time at that little board working math problems. 
A more traditional Birthday cake.  Twelve
candles...that's two people turning six.

Well, over time the competitiveness began to lessen, and although we did occasionally argue, we were most of all friends.  I really believe that there is a bit of an "ESP" connection between twins, because we often were amused when we would start to say the same thing at the same time.  In Junior High and High School, we seldom had the same classes and began to become individuals more than "the twins." 

Oh, and that store-bought birthday cake.  Daddy got it for us; it seems like it came from Ward Ice Cream company in Fort Smith.  We had a big party that year.  It must have been an unusually nice January day, because we were outside with only sweaters, evidently. 

When we were 16, on January 18, 1972, our first niece was born.  Sandy Yates Swanner is my brother Phil's daughter, and now there are three birthdays in the family on January 18th. 

And now, as I write this, I'm preparing for my 55th birthday.  My wife has a present for me that she has been hiding in the car, and has had to move it already twice to keep me from seeing it.  She doesn't know that just seeing her in my life everyday is the greatest gift I could ever ask for.  Across the street, my mother-in-law is even now preparing a feast in my honor that we'll all share tonight.  My stepson Ross and his wife Maegan are about to become parents in a few weeks, and Marilyn and I can hardly wait to meet our little Kate.  Ross, who racked up a series of awards at Arkansas Tech including Outstanding Male Student, is now applying his leadership skills to the teaching profession.  My brilliant step-daughter Laura and her husband Kip live in Little Rock, where Laura is a doctor completing her residency in OB-GYN.  And I, I'm just soaking up blessings like a sponge, so fortunate to be at this place in life right now, and happily reliving pleasant memories on this little blog.  Please excuse me now; I have candles to blow out.

1 comment:

  1. AWW!! Happy Birthday Uncle B!! Love you bunches!!