At six foot four, the neighbor's father was an imposing figure. The fact that he had one crossed eye made him all the more scary. He was strict and never made conversation or played with us. He was to be feared. And there were so many rules at the neighbor's house. Children were to be home for dinner at a quarter to five and not a minute later... or else. I think "or else" involved the backside of a hairbrush.
Dinner was served at 5:00 o'clock on the dot. (even the word strict conjurs an erect, tight-necked straight-backed towering image for me to this day)
The kids weren't allowed to go barefoot in the summer as we were.
They had the unbelievable regimen of having to take a bath EVERY NIGHT! My mom was content to let the summer swimming at the public pool and the saltwater dips at the camp in Maine to soak away the first layer of grime we accumulated. The back to school bath on the other hand involved a scrubbing equal to a Moroccan salt bath.
One day I was in the young son David's room sharing a bit of naughtiness. David was about 4 years old and I was six. He was giggling in his rapid-fire staccato, talking about "wieners and hotdogs".
What he couldn't see but I could was his father standing, towering in the doorway surveying the situation, his crossed eye scanning the room and bearing down on my young sinful, naughty soul.
I wasn't even doing the talking. My guilt was for listening, witnessing and even enjoying David's oratory.My heart sank as I was ordered home immediately. So scared I was that I left my Kimmy doll behind. With a confusing mix of shame and embarrassment I indignantly vowed to never set foot in their house again.
How would I ever get my Kimmy doll back was a pressing concern. How would I explain the tears and solemn vow to boycott their house and get my mother to fetch Kimmy doll without implicating myself?
As you can see nearly 50 years later Kimmy doll in my possession and memory fades as to how I resolved the dilemma.