Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our Own SuperHero

There are 20 years difference between my oldest and youngest siblings. Allow me to give you the rundown:

Geri, Mary, Jim, Tom, Tim, Dennis, ME, Judy, Michelle

(Yes, I can still spout off this list at lightning speed)

One fall afternoon, Dennis, Judy, and I were playing around on the corner next door when a rotten neighborhood boy (who was a couple of years older than Dennis) sidled up with his cocky mouth and engaged us with a taunt. I have no recollection of who said what, but in second, this pimple-faced punk (I'll call him Bobby) had Dennis pinned on his back, his knees piercing Dennis's shoulders down like insect wings in a bug collection.

Now, I knew this feeling well; having knees crammed deep into your shoulder bones (courtesy of Dennis himself), so I was probably reveling in this display for a split second, but this was my brother being bullied, so when Dennis cried out in pain, I yelled, "I'll go get Jim!" Running to the edge of the house, I screamed, "JIM!!! HELP, JIM!!!" Judy joined me in our cry for help.

I had no idea where he was at the time, but I suspected the threat of my oldest (and biggest) brother would be enough to worry Bobby. It was. Recognizing Jim's name, he immediately leaped off of Dennis, took several steps in the direction of his house across the street, and warily watched the corner of the house we were in front of for signs of Jim. Judy and I taunted, "HA!" over our power. However, when Jim did not appear, Bobby regained control of my brother and, for good measure, began slapping his face back and forth. Terrified (and too scared to jump on Bobby's back, I guess), I resumed my screaming. Again, Bobby jumped off of Dennis and prepared to flee.

Soon, however, it became clear that my brother Jim cared not for rescue efforts (or could not hear us, at least. It appeared that Bobby had the upper hand (or hands, as it were) and planned to use them to further torture Dennis. He threw him to the ground again and this time scoffed at my calls for help. (He knew we were bluffing.) By this time, Dennis was red faced and crying, futily trying to scramble out of Bobby's grip. "You like that, Cry Baby?!" Bobby taunted (slap, slap, slap).

Feeling helpless and fearing we were next in line, Judy and I stood rooted there, trying to think of something to do when, suddenly, from around the corner of the house, our brother Jim appeared! Bobby had his back to us, and Jim grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him off of Dennis, knocking him to the ground and assuming the same position he had had on Dennis.

Elated, Judy and I screamed, "Get him, Jim! Go Jim!" What a hero! This was better than the movies! Dennis stood; his relief, I'm sure, overflowing. Imagine our new-found bravery as Jim invited each of us to come and give Bobby a slap or two! Eventually, Jim let Bobby up and gave him a shove toward his house. "Next time, pick on someone your own size!" he warned.

I'm sure my recollection is not perfect, but I will never forget how my brother Jim was our savior that day. I'm sure Judy and Dennis will add their perspectives, but that won't change my fantasy...the day my brother Jim became a hero.


  1. This is such a cool story and memory. Go Jim!

    We had a neighborhood bully, too. His name was Stevie Sanders (I hope to God he's not reading this or one of you aren't married to him -- that's a grim thought). We were terrified of that evil bastard. And you know what really stinks? My brother, Marty, who was Stevie's age, didn't beat him up when he threatened us.

    So God took care of it.

    Whenever we were riding our stingray bikes with banana seats (even the girls had them), we'd get off and tiptoe past Stevie's house. This one time, though, he was waiting for us in the bushes. He jumped out and started after us, in a blind rage. You know what happened? He got hit by a car. Yes, it's true. The car was going only 10 miles per hour, but it was enough to make him fly up onto the hood, slide off, and hit the street. Then, best of all, his mother came out and yelled at him for not being careful. It was absolute deliverance. After all these years I still get all shivery with delight.

  2. Merry-Wow! That's awesome! I wonder, did getting his by a car change him at all (I'm hoping it knocked some sense into him!)

  3. We moved about a year later, but during those final months, he simply didn't scare us so terribly. It seems that witnessing his take-down leveled the playing field and lessened his power over us.

    BTW, when the Brady Bunch came on TV in 1969, that was our first experience with step-parenting (we were so innocent!). To further explain it, our mom told us that Stevie's dad was his step-father. WOW! Then, a few years later, she told us that his dad bullied Stevie and his mom, so when she yelled at him about getting hit by the car, she was more terrified for herself than Stevie because the step-dad would've taken it out on her, too. Sad, sad story.


  4. I love your story -- what every little girl would love to have -- an older brother who's her hero. But, Midge's story makes me sooo sad. When I look back at childhood, I can think of kids who were bullies, and I now realize they may have been just like Midge's example.

  5. I read this yesterday, before my kids came home from school. Now as I read it again, it brings a smile to my face.

    When school gets out, my two middle children walk home together. It's my only son, Tommy, who is twelve (and a BIG 12 year old) along with Tessa, my attitudal drama queen, who is 7. Tommy is horribly mean to her, always saying things to set her off, and they have this love/hate relationship.

    That being said, I was surprised when they got home to find out that my son, bless his heart, had taken up for his sister.

    A boy his age had told Tessa in a not-so-nice voice to get out of his way, so Tommy punched him in the arm, knocking him into a wall (I don't condone violence, but I must say he didn't get in trouble for this), telling him not to talk to his sister like that.

    I was so proud! It seems as though he can talk to her that way, but nobody else better try it! Big brothers can sometimes be a nice thing to have around.

  6. I am not a bit surprised that Jim would come to Dennis's rescue, as he is still always one you can depend on.
    I can only assume that since I am older than Jim (and even at that time probably heavier) that I was not home to join in the rescue.
    (I would have liked the retaliation part.)
    Wish Jim was around when Margaret Granburg and I got slapped around a block from our Klaus St home.
    (Where were our parents??)
    Great story, Barb!

  7. Wow, look what I missed out on by being the oldest girl! No big brothers to beat up on me, or save me from bullies. What a different life you younger ones led. It is hard to believe we all were in the same family eh? I was so insecure that I was jealous of Mary (2 years younger) until we moved out. I know that I was verbally mean to her at the very least, but she only has fond memories of me, or at least that's what she says. :) Anyway, thanks for sharing one of your best memories!

  8. Terri, your story is so sweet, and I can relate. My daughter has always adored her brother, but he rarely gives her any affection. However, I'm positive he would come to her aide if anyone made any move to hurt her feelings or physically.

    MM, I can relate to your story about divorce, too. Funny, my dad would never let me play with anyone whose parents were divorced. (Meanwhile, he was an abusive alcoholic; go figure.)

    AHAF: I know you're right. Some kids turn out well in spite of adversity at home (my whole family is living proof), and others don't fair as well. I feel really blessed to have the advantages we had to outweigh any negative.

  9. there's well over 20 years difference btween the oldest of my mom's family and the youngest - a tag end kid. we have a picture of my uncles john and oliver. uncle oliver was about 3 and uncle john was on leave from his army unit before he was sent over seas in ww2. uncle oliver is wearing uncle johns hat and uncle john is squatted down beside uncle oliver. i've always bee surprised by that picture for some reason.

  10. wonderful story.
    I don't know if my baby brother would admit to it but I was his hero.

  11. Siblings are natural born heroes, it seems.
    I'll never forgot when my 12 year old sister called my 16-year old boyfriend and tore a strip off him for yelling at me. My hero(ine)!

  12. I had forgotten all about that day. Thanks for jogging my memory.

    I think the boys last name was Siegel. I seem to recal the nickname siegel the beagle. I remember wishing Jim was there for me when I was out collecting money for the Cerebal Palsy telethon and two older girls chased me, pinned me down and took the money. I do remember many other times that he was though :o)


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