Why I remember my birthday party so long ago.


Little fuzzy chicks. Made of feathers with little orange feet. Not beautiful, unless you were nine and they would be on your party table. Each one had bright colors and little funny hats. I loved those chicks.

This was before party stores with aisles and aisles of themes. Back then, moms had to think of ideas to make their little girls smile. Mom was good at it.

Butterflies danced in my stomach. When would my friends be here?

Thinking of my friends in my house felt strange. I had never had my school friends over. I had a friend who lived down the street and one next door, but we usually played at our friend’s houses, or outside.

I was okay with not having someone come over. I was afraid they’d make fun. Like those kids did when we went to the drive-in for ice cream and they saw my huge dad. Spreading out their hands wide they imitated his size. And then they laughed and laughed, except it wasn’t funny.

I saw them as I stood in line with my brother to get our cones. And then, I had to get in our 57 Chevy with my dad. My ice cream didn’t taste good that day.

But today would be different. Dad was at work. There would be no laughing like that. I would have friends over. Just for me.

When you’re one of five kids, there isn’t much time for things just for you.

The party felt like a dream. The doorbell would ring and magically another friend would appear all dressed up.

Maryann Kenny. She was actually at my front door! And in her hands was a present. She got me a present!

The table mom and I set looked beautiful. Paper cupcake liners perched by each plate, filled with jelly beans and m&m’s. Candy I picked out myself. Just for today.

I’m glad my birthday came before Easter, when the chicks waited in the dime store to be adopted. I took my time inspecting each one.

“Choose ten,” mom told me.

They had to be perfect. Just like my party.

Then I picked out Hershey bars for prizes. Not a package of them, but big ones.

We played “hot potato.” Sitting in a circle, we passed a little potato around while the music played. When the music stopped, whoever had the potato would be out, and we’d start again.

“Let your friends win the prizes,” mom told me.

And there was the potato walk, where each of us put a potato on top of one foot. Then we had to go across the room without dropping it. Sure it sounds easy, but those red potatoes from the bin were shaped funny. I practiced over and over.

Then finally there was the clothespin game. We stood in line and dropped wooden clothespins into a bucket. The one with the most would get a prize. I liked the clothespin game.

I looked at my cake sitting on the table. Homemade cake with pink frosting and different colored candles. It was the most beautiful cake ever.

I had so much fun that day. I did a lot of smiling. Maybe this party would help. Maybe I would feel like I belonged instead of feeling different.

The time went by too fast. Soon I was saying goodbye.

“Thank you for coming, I smiled. But inside I was sad; sad the magic was over.

I watched them walk across my front porch and down the stairs.

My friends were in MY house. I couldn’t believe it.

It was the best party in the whole world. One that would last me forever.

And now, when Easter approaches and I’m shopping for my grandsons. If I see a little chick I have to pick it up. And think about the special day so long ago, of Happy Birthday to me.

“Come out, come out wherever you are!”

It was the most fun ever. We practically lived to play hide and seek. I remember the day I found my perfect spot.

On the second floor of our brown-framed house sat a small room. Today we would refer to it as a walk-in-closet. Back then we called it the sewing room for that’s where mom kept her singer sewing machine in the corner by the window. The light colored gray room had two hanging poles where out of season clothes hung on wire hangers. In addition there were a couple of garment bags, a light green one and a pink one. The green one was filled with a couple of suits, still in the plastic bags from the cleaners. Bags we were warned were dangerous. 

The second hanging wardrobe bag held less clothing. It was a quilted plastic material with a convenient rip at the bottom. The bag was about a foot wide, going all the way down, almost touching the floor. The rip enabled me to lift the bag and cover my nine- year-old body, including my black and white oxfords.

Once inside the bag, I stood perfectly still, convinced it was the best hiding place ever. I could hear my sister Peggy’s approaching footsteps. Would my thumping heart give me away? Sweat streamed down my face on that hot summer day. Finally she was in the room, just inches away. Quietly I wondered if anyone had ever died playing this game? I literally held my breath, but fortunately she left the room as quickly as she had entered.

Within moments I heard distant squeals as she discovered the hiding places of my siblings, one by one. 

Did I actually have a chance this time?

Finally after endless moments, I heard the words I had been waiting for,

“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”

Carefully I lifted the garment bag up so I could quickly join the others. Making sure the bag hung normally, I left the room. 

Flying down the back stairs, I joined everyone else. 

“Where were you?” they asked.

My smile covered my whole face, but I said nothing. 

Victory was sweet that day. I would visit that special spot again on more than one occasion.

When mom asked about the growing rip in the garment bag, I feigned ignorance, hoping she wouldn’t mend it.

Funny how that memory is so vivid after being tucked away for so many years. How fun to be instantly transported back in time so long ago, and far away. It makes me wonder how many other memories may be hiding from me. Hmmm,

“Come out, come out wherever you are!”