Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Sixties

Marty and Tommy

Sixty years ago today I got a brother for his birthday. I was only a kid myself, so I can't remember what it was like before he was born, but I know it was more fun after. Our bedrooms were both in the basement so we stayed up late and talked into the night, even when we were little.

Across the hall from my bedroom there was an unfinished storage area called the Fruit Room. Shelves were stocked with bottled peaches, pears and grape juice. In the corner was an old white wardrobe my mom called Peter (yes Pete, you're named after a cupboard) that held hammers, gardening tools and cans of paint. Boxes of old clothes, a wooden clothes dryer, and potted geraniums sat under the window . . . a window that could be pried open with a car key. One night a loud shot woke us both up. Robbers!

Tom flew into my room and we listened from under my covers. When the second bang blasted, we dashed upstairs for Dad, then followed him back down to watch. Another shot sounded as he cautiously peeked inside. Blood squirted him in the face! He automatically licked his lips . . . wait, it wasn't blood . . . it was homemade root beer. Apparently Dad had over-estimated the fermenting time and the bottles were popping their corks.

That was as close as we came to champagne at our house, but if we'd had some, the corks would have popped that day sixty years ago when my brother was born. Part of the Bagley legacy depended on him—Tom was the only grandkid who would carry our family name into the future.

Tom 1961

But he was prepared.

Tom earned his inheritance by herding cattle in Wyoming, fishing in Idaho, golfing in Hawaii and learning at the U of U. He received his mother's gentle nature, his father's sense of humor, and his sisters' admiration.

Marty, Polly, Jolyn, Tom, 1968

We all looked up to him.
(You can see why.)

Tom and Julie

He married a princess, and, taking the role of heir seriously . . .

. . . they produced a half-dozen kids.
But it took sixty years for Tom to become what he was always meant to be:

Tom and Julie and Jackson

Grandpa Bagley.

"The great secret that all old people share is that you really don't change
over sixty or seventy years.
Your body changes, but you don't change at all.
And that, of course, causes great confusion."
—Doris Lessing

Don't be confused, T. You'll always be my little brother.
Happy Birthday!


kenju said...

Happy Birthday to your brother. I always wanted one of those.

He has a lovely family!

Christie said...

What a sweet tribute! And where does that height come from???

~Kristina said...

Happy Birthday to Tom!

Grandma Cebe said...

I'm pretty sure that if my younger brother had been born a couple of years after me instead of 5 1/2, we would have been great friends growing up instead of me being insanely jealous of him. Happy Birthday to Tom. The root beer story is hilarious.

Tom and Julie said...

Your memory of details continues to astound me! Thank you for the sweet blog - I don't deserve the nice things you said, but I'll take them anyway! You're the BEST big sister a little brother could ask for! Keep up the great work!


mama jo said...

that was so cute and so true...tee was and is my 'big' brother and one that i still look up too! plus, i'd forgotten about peter!

Martha said...

Thank you for the cute post and tribute to your brother. I feel a little sad because my brother was 6 years older than me and I was a lonely little kid. Happy birthday to your brother.

polly said...

loved the post about tom, what a great big brother! our parents must have had trouble with their rootbeer making as i remember other incidents where there where explosions. (were they making rootbeer, or trying for something else?) anyway, happy birthday to tom - i love that we finally have another grampa bagley around!

Tom and Julie said...

By the way, I AM confused. People have told me (lately) that "60 is the new 50"....I'm here to tell you that, based on how I feel now, 60 is the new 70! I'm tired (but glad I made it to 60)!

whit said...

Happy Birthday Tom!

al + sar said...

I love this post! Such a nice tribute and I love the old pictures (I stole some of them if thats ok!) Happy Birthday Grampa Bagley!

Sheri said...

Love learning about your family. Great photos. Brothers are priceless. Mine is gone.