|In back of our house in Utrecht with Oma Roos|
Eleven and half months after I was born, Gerard was born. My mother said she cried through the whole pregnancy, which might explain their complex and fused relationship. I don't know where the photos have disappeared to--the ones of Gerard crying on the front stoop of our house against a closed door. We were supposed to play outside for awhile. No options. These were anxious times for Gerard.
Now he says, "I was a big cry baby."
I celebrated his birth by smearing my own poop all over my playpen and then eating it. Opoe Copier did the clean-up.
Later, in school, we ended up in the same grade. I was six when school began in the fall of 1948, and Gerard was five. We went to Forest School on the corner of 21st South and 9th East (now defunct).
On the first day, all the European immigrants were corralled together in the front foyer. I could tell immediately that we looked different from our American counterparts. Different haircuts, different clothes. Different.
I waved at my cousin, John Anjewierden across the circle.
Gerard was placed in kindergarten and for the first few days went home at recess.
I was placed in first grade. I remember nothing of that year in school except a fleeting image of my sitting with the teacher at her desk learning to read (I presume).
I suppose because of the large number of European immigrants after World War II, it was school policy to hold children back a grade to make sure they could read. Kindergartners moved up. First graders remained in first grade, and so Gerard and I ended up in the same grade.
In high school, when Gerard was asked if we were twins, he'd say, "No, we're six months apart."
My second year of first grade was at Jefferson School (also defunct), a walk down Main Street from our one-bedroom apartment. There, I was confused about which half of the day we were to come for the Halloween party, and Mother brought us for the wrong half. That patronizing look of pity from the teacher, when she realized I'd misunderstood the directions, still stings.