Most recent photo of my siblings & I (taken 7/05) From L to R: Karen, Gary, Kevin, Laurie, Bryan, Me
My sister Karen was a freshman in college when I was born. The story goes that she and her friends were really excited about the prospect of her having a baby sibling. When she was called with the news of my birth, she and a group of her friends were huddled around the phone in anticipation-- waiting to find out if I would be a baby sister or baby brother.
My Father: Your mother just gave birth.
Karen: Was it a boy or a girl?
My Father: Guess.
Karen: A Girl?
My Father: Guess again.
Karen: A Boy!
Karen's friends: TWINS!
My first real memories of my brother Gary, I remember being about 2 or 3 and I'd left my tricycle in the driveway and Gary couldn't see it when he pulled up in his car one day and ran it over, ruining it. It didn't tramautize me for life or anything. If anything Gary and I are somewhat close. Every year my entire family goes camping at Meacham Lake in the Adirondack State Park (incidentally that's where the above photo was taken). I remember in the summers of 1996 and 1999 Gary and I, both being night owls would toss a 12 pack of beer in a canoe and go out canoeing at midnight with only the light of the moon to illuminate our trips. He'd tell me stories of the mischief he and my brother Kevin would get into when they were teenagers-- some tales of which my parents still have not heard. My grandparents used to have a camp on the lake up until two or three years before I was born when the NY State DEC forced them out. Their camp had been located at the far end of the Lake and the only way to reach their camp was to hike in on the trail from the main campgrounds (which did have road access) or by boat. On these late night treks Gary & I would go to my grandparents old site (which still gets used occassionally by some of the more adventurous hikers and campers passing through the area) and he would tell me the tales of spending summers there and he showed me the tree where my grandfather had carved his initials several years before.
One time when I was still in high school Gary & I canoed to the site and hiked back through the brush to a couple of remote ponds. Gary wanted to try fishing there. The fish weren't biting and it started raining so we headed back to the canoe for our journey home. I was cold and wet as the rain had started to come down harder by the time we got back to our canoe-- but I didn't really care. I really treasured the time with my big brother.
For some reason Kevin and I have always been close, despite the 15 years and life experiences that seperate us, I tend to feel a certain level of kinship with him that I don't necessarily share with my other brothers. Shortly before I was born he and Gary had fixed up the basement to use as their bedroom. There was no heat down there, but luckily for them there was a fireplace. I remember going downstairs on Saturday mornings trying to wake Kevin up to play with me. I'd be cold and he'd take me under the covers with him. I remember, not knowing what it was at the time, I'd smell stale beer on his breath. Shortly after getting married just a little over 25 years ago (he and his wife just celebrated their 25th Anniversary on Monday) he moved to Virginia. A few years later-- I believe it was the summer of 1986 or 1987 when he was up visiting with the rest of the family. He and I got up early one morning to climb Debar Mountain. It was the first time I'd ever climbed it. He'd made a regular trek of it when he had been younger. He and his friends once even camped out in the lean-to located about 3/4ths of the way up the Mountain overnight. Despite moving to and living in Viriginia for close to 25 years now Kevin is proof positive that you can take the man out of the Adirondacks but you can't take the Adirondacks out of the man. He's decorated his home in a distinctly Adirondack motif and looks forward to his yearly pilgrimages to Meacham Lake with his family.
With Laurie, I remember wandering into her room and asking her to play her 8-track of Billy Joel's The Stranger and bombarding her with questions about it. I also remember when she moved out my father drove her car, a turquoise VW Rabbit, down to the Syracuse area for her and brought me with him. I thought it was so cool that I got to ride in the front seat (even though I couldn't see over the dashboard quite yet. My father's car at the time was a Fiat Station Wagon (he was actually able to turn a profit on it when he sold it after only one year... for scrap) so it was kind of a toss-up who had the better car at the time. I also remember being terrified of the idea of being the Ring Bearer at Laurie's wedding. At age 5 I kept hearing it as "Ring Bare" and I thought it meant I had to be naked for the ceremony (incidentally I had a cousin that was about the same age as me who was asked to be in his aunt's wedding around the same time and was disappointed to learn he wouldn't actually get to dress up as a bear).
Bryan was delighted when I was born. He was no longer the youngest and finally he'd have someone to pass the torture along to. Granted I lucked out, I never had to put up with the level of torture he received from Gary & Kevin. When the 3 of them used to share a bedroom, his bed was in the middle. He was afraid to get up in the night to use the bathroom because either Gary or Kevin or both of them would get out of bed and start attacking him in the ways that big brothers are so good at-- it was akin to running the gauntlet. The torture I bestowed upon him was considerably worse than the torture he inflicted upon me. Initially, before my sister Laurie moved out he and I shared a bedroom. He'd be trying to sleep in and I'd play my Disney 45RPM records... Imagine being awakened every Saturday morning to the theme from Swamp Fox or The Ballad of Davey Crockett (that 45 got the most play out of any in my collection at the time). Once upon a time I believe that would have been a stoning offense (and some may argue that it still is). He was quite relieved to finally get his own bedroom when Laurie moved out.