Thursday, January 31, 2008


It was the summer of 1945. I’d just graduated from Geneva High school and was home in Waterloo, waiting for the O.K. on my summer job of telephone operator. Harold was just finishing his freshman year at Waterloo High School. We were both at loose ends; I didn’t know many people in this town where our parents had moved the year before, and Harold knew some, but not enough to create mayhem. We were both ready to kick up our heels, but how? where?

Taking a good look at Harold, I realized that he was growing up. He was just as tall as I was and probably the same size—and—“hey Butts, try on my skirt” I said as I shoved it at him. Bored, he answered, “sure thing”, grabbed it and stepped into it. Zipped up, the thing fit him perfectly! Amazed, I threw him a sweater, he popped his head, then arms though it, and there he was, transformed into a girl—if we could cover the hair. A kerchief did the job, and much to my amazement, he even fit into my high heels.

Peering in the mirror at his reflection, he said, “I wonder if we could fool anybody?” It seemed to me we could, and so we concocted some action. Mom was washing clothes in the back room. Perfect! She was busy there. Quietly, and carefully maneuvering the stairs, (he could even walk like a girl in those shoes!) we came down and he went out on the porch and rang the door bell. I shouted, “I’ll get it” to Mom, and let him in to sit in one of the living room chairs. Then I went out to Mom and said, “It’s a girl that knows Harold named Mabel. I’ve heard of her, but don’t know her well. She seems very shy. I don’t know where he is, so I wish you’d come in and help me entertain her while we figure out how serious this is.”

Mom was always very agreeable, so she just wiped her hands and came along to the living room where “Mabel” was waiting. I introduced Mabel to Mom and the three of us sat down. “So you go to school with Harold?” Mom said. “Mabel” nodded. “And you live here in town?” she continued. “Mabel” nodded again nervously shuffling her feet. Desperate not to giggle, I cleared my throat and searched for a safe topic of conversation. “You must be glad that school is out for the summer now”, I mumbled. “Mabel” looked at me, and I could see a laugh coming, so I hastily said, “and the weather has been so nice!” She nodded and once again, quiet vibes filled the air.

Anxious not to offend, Mom quickly asked, “would you like a glass of lemonade?” “Mabel” started to shake her head up and down, looked at me, and we both lost it! Snickers changed to belly laughs, as Mom looked from one of us to the other, paused, and light dawned. She laughed too, as we crowed, “couldn’t believe you didn’t know your own son!” Mabel has been a good friend of our family ever since.


Tom said...

Hey Ma, Uncle Buttsy has nice gams, but you and Aunt Esther have him beat.

Sue Kinsella said...

I'm finding it really hard to believe that Grandma wouldn't have had a clue. Although I have to admit that Mabel is quite lovely - and looks the spitting image of Harold's girls! She even looks like Aunt Barb to me, as well.

Jon Maney said...

This was one of my mother's favorite stories. But I don't think I ever saw the pictures until now.

Some girls got me to do this when I was a student in London years ago. They dressed me up and we went out to a pub.

So I guess it runs in the family.

Thanks, Harold, for being such a leader!