Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton
Chapter 29
A Really, Really Birthday
(1940)

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152 Marilyn's school hours were lonely ones fer Norman. He missed her. Most of the time he was good about the little errands we occupied him with, but we didn't give him quite all of the companionship he craved.

"If you don't be careful how you treat folks," he'd say, "someone I know will make an awful racket in this house till it falls down."

When Winferd wouldn't let him saw up the lumber pile, or use his brace and bit, Norman complained, "It will be just too bad when I'm a man. I won't knew how to build bridges and I won't know how to make houses and I won't know how to do anything. I'll just be like a baby, If big folks won't let me learn things when I'm little, I can*t do nothing when I'm a man."

All right, son," Winferd said, "see what you can build from these boards. Here are some nails and a hammer you can use."

Day after day, Norman nailed little boards together, making airplanes. He took each one on a test flight, buzzing loudly as he dragged it around on the end of a string.

153 At the first of the year Norman announced, "It's 1940, isn't it!" When I replied yes, he said, “1940 is when I will have a really, really birthday, isn't it!"

We marked each day off the calendar. The day before his birthday, he was accidentally poked with a stick in his right eye, so Dr. Mclntyre put e patch on it. While we were in Hurricane, we stopped at Graff's store where Norman tried on hats. As we started to leave without making a purchase, Norman asked, "Aren't you even going to buy a guy I know who's only got one eye, a hat?"

"Can you keep a secret?" I whispered.

His one eye opened wide. "I know a guy who can really keep a secret.,"

"Ok. We wanted to surprise you for your birthday. That's why we tried on the hats."

"Well," he loudly whispered, “you just take the hat home and I'll sure be surprised."

The long awaited February 29th dawned bright and clear, a perfect spring day for a party. Norman hovered about, excitedly watching with one eye, the cookie and candy making. Eagerly he gathered wood for a "hot-dog cooking fire."

The party was set for 4:00 o'clock. The sun shone until three, when out of the nowhere came dark clouds, and pelting hail fell thick and fast. Suddenly the roar and commotion ceased. As suddenly as it came, so it left. For about five minutes the ground was white, and then spring came again, warm, yet cloudy with the smell of damp earth. The guests arrived and we played the old standbys, "pussy wants a corner," "blind man's bluff," and "pass the button," and roasted weiners. Thunderheads appeared again from behind the hill and the sky darkened, so we passed out animal cookies and fudge and sped the little folks home.

"That was a really, really birthday," Norman said, counting his loot.

Marilyn's kindergarten year goes down in family history as "the year of the plagues." First, she brought home the chicken pox, followed by scarletena, mumps, and finally whooping cough. We were lucky to get Norman's party over with between plagues.

Marilyn and Norman fared pretty good with the whooping cough, but it was almost too much for DeMar. He wasn't yet a year old, and it hit him hard. He lay in bed, a limp, helpless little fellow, so the doctor put him on sulfa, a new miracle drug. We gave it to him for twelve hours, as directed, then he turned blue, and whimpered a weak little cry, never stopping. The doctor gave him pills to counteract the sulfa. We could have lost him.

Long before DeMar could walk, he climbed on everything he could push a chair up to; the kitchen cabinets, the table, refrigerator or stove. He understood only one direction, up. Whenever I heard the grating of chair legs on cement, I knew DeMar planned on going up. How to get down, he had no idea. The usual way was for me to grab him, but if I wasn't quick enough, he fell. His head bumped the cement floor often enough it should have pounded in an idea, but it never did.

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