While the rest of my cohort were learning about social intercourse – getting a little grope and grab, having a bit of slap and tickle – I was being press-ganged, almost every Friday and Saturday night, into babysitting for my sister.
From the time I turned twelve, until I turned sixteen and got a real girlfriend, I was voluntold to take care of her five young children on weekends. Wed far too young, she married a country-born party guy. He was raised on a farm, a mile and a half off the main highway, seven and a half miles out of town, before the turn-off to his place.
Back before marijuana was invented, alcohol was the drug of choice. He had a circle of friends that he’d partied with, and even after he got married and sired five children, he still wanted to go drinking with them, and she, eagerly, wanted to go along.
I would show up at their house about nine o’clock. Theoretically, the kids would be in bed, hopefully asleep. The pair would leave, and we were on our own till some time the next day. It is just as well that they did not try to drive home drunk, late at night, but that was not a rational decision.
The parties lasted until they ran out of booze, or the last drinker passed out in a chair or on the couch. They would get a bit of sleep, and return home, semi-sober, some time the next day. The record was a Sunday where I dressed and fed the kids breakfast, and later lunch, and their parents, missing for 15 hours, wandered in at two PM.
One Sunday morning they were driving home, and they passed a county road sign that said
Hungover-ly claiming that meant that he should speed for 30 miles, he jammed his foot down on the accelerator. Soon, they were flying down a gravel county road at 75/80 MPH. Suddenly they came over a small rise, 100 yards from a T-intersection with the highway, on a road he should have known like the back of his hand.
He slammed on the brakes, but slid right across the highway which was fortunately almost empty, because church was still in session. They slid down into a shallow ditch, and slammed into the far bank. He bent the heavy steel front bumper on the car, and the windshield popped out and flew into the long grass – unbroken. He stowed it in the back seat, and had it re-installed the next day.
I was supposed to be paid 35 cents an hour for my services. A normal night/morning should have got me five dollars. He earned twice what my father did, but my reward was often whatever change he had left in his pocket.
They lived in a lovely house, but it was beside the plywood plant where he was the accountant, in a commercial neighborhood. Their nearest neighbors had five teenage boys, all known to police. The man who lived on the street behind them was a known pedophile voyeur. I quietly stepped into the three girls’ bedroom one night, to pet a cat on the window sill, and caught him peering in the window.
The area was populated by three families who interbred back and forth, till the average IQ was about 90. They didn’t need a babysitter so much as an armed guard. With five young children at home, I can sort of understand their need to get away for a while. Month after month – year after year, this dedicated partying pair left five small children in the care of a young teen boy. I did what I could, but I got screwed, when I could have been out getting laid.