April 13, 2019

Chapter 07 - A Rosie In Bloom!

A Rosie In Bloom!

In a family as large as mine watching over us all was an enormous job that was too big for just my parents. My parents gave us life and provided a home for us. As a result they inherited an enormous load of housework, bills, laundry and other such stuff. Feeding, clothing, rearing and repairing the occasional body damage took up the bulk of my parents' free time. As result we were responsible for our own entertainment and amusing ourselves in general.

Basically they couldn't do everything for their kids and still have time to do things with the kids. While they did a lot of fun things with us and spent as much time as they could stand in public places with us, most of the day-to-day care of the younger kids was the responsibility of the older ones. Babysitting was a rite of passage that we all went through growing up my house.

We weren't subjected to parental supervision as much as we were sibling supervision.

My family was divided into separate units based on age. The oldest siblings, having completed their tour of baby-sitting duties were pretty much free to fend for themselves. My oldest brother missed a lot of his turns watching over me and changing my diapers in my early years because he was in the service. Far from home he was tucked away in a nice quiet foxhole in Korea and safe from the dangers of life in the Cannata household. He often described his stint in Korea as one of the most relaxing periods of his life.

The next five oldest had their turns as I was growing. As I grew older and was allowed to go outside and play in my yard I had a chance to be a burden to each of them. As I grew the duty of watching me was passed from one to the other. As they got out of HS and got working jobs that paid real money they were freed from baby-sitting duty unless it was a major emergency.

That left the two youngest sisters, Rosie and Toni, to take on the lion's share of baby-sitting me and my five younger brothers. More often than not I was under their supervision on weekends and during the long hot days of summer vacation. Toni was more or less a baby sitter, serious about the job and not a whole lot of fun. She tended to stay close to home and as a result she watched over the youngest of my brothers. They were too young to go far and not a whole lot of fun either. I was so much worldlier being at least a whole year older it was like hanging with little kids when I had to spend the day with them.

My sister Rosie was a horse of a different color completely. When Rosie was in charge there was always the promise of something exciting and unknown. The rules were totally ignored. It was never a question of what we could do as much as what we could get away with doing. Being my favorite sister I never considered her a babysitter. She was more like a companion. For me she was a co-conspirator and my mentor when it came to doing things we were not allowed to do.

Rosie was wise beyond her years and knew more about my family and its history than even my parents. It seemed she knew every secret there was in the Cannata closet. She would tell me stories that seemed so fantastic they would excite or scare the willies out of me and leave me wondering how she could possibly know them. It soon became clear how she learned the secrets others thought no one knew. Rosie was a voyeur.

She loved to spy on people and follow the older siblings around the neighborhood. She knew all the places to hide in our house where she would eavesdrop on conversations or watch the older ones through peepholes. She would take me along and teach me her skills.

Adults and teachers always spoke of her with a mix of fear and loathing. She had no respect for grownups and always questioned authority. She did what she was asked but never what she was told. Playing hooky with Rosie was one of my favorite adventures. She hated school as much as I did and avoided going as often as possible. She would often tell me her plans and take me along. Together we broke every rule possible. She was my idol.

We were as close as siblings could be and she was someone I could confide in. She was as much my friend as my sister and I loved spending time with her. She could be trusted to keep a secret and I could talk with her about things that were too private to discuss with just anyone. Two of the most embarrassing moments of my life were when I got my pecker stuck in my zipper and the time I got a big splinter in my rear end. Both hurt like hell but involved parts of my body that I was too embarrassed to show even to my parents... especially my mother.

It was Rosie that I turned to for help. I knew she wouldn't laugh or tell anyone and she never did. Well at least she never told anyone, but she did have some chuckles as she worked on my butt. It took awhile to get it out and she made jokes that had me laughing along with her. It hurt a lot less while we laughed. You really have to trust someone in order to pull down your pants and let them pick wood out of your butt. And that person really has to love you to do it. We loved and trusted each other absolutely.

Rosie was my source for answers about the birds and bees and what was going on with my body as I grew. She explained why my pecker got hard in the morning and that I should pee before going downstairs so it would go down and not freak my mother out. When she asked me if I played with myself and I said only when I couldn't find any other kids around she laughed like hell. She then proceeded to explain why my pecker got hard, what it was for and what I could do with it until I was old enough to put it to proper use.

Because she taught me to spy so well, as it was for many boys and their sisters, she was the first girl I ever saw naked. She was the first grown-up girl with real boobs and a working bra. I thought she was the most beautiful girl ever. Feeling guilty as a catholic should, I felt compelled to confess my sin. When I confessed to her later, she shocked me by telling me she knew I was watching and laughed as if it was something funny and not at all weird or creepy.

Many people may take this the wrong way, but I was young and innocent and for a while, I thought I was in love with my sister Rosie.

When we were sent out to play it usually meant hanging out with the neighborhood kids and sticking close to home. But when my mother told Rosie to take me outside it was a whole different story. When Rosie took me out, we went WAY out. As far from home that the trains, buses or trolleys would take us. My neighborhood was much bigger when I was with Rosie.

Out of our parents sight we were pretty much free to do what we pleased and get away with more than most kids should. We spent a lot of Saturdays riding the public transit to the various city recreation spots they brought you to. Revere Beach and City Point ... the Boston Common and Public Gardens ... anywhere and everywhere. She taught me so much about so many things and took me to places in the city that I never knew existed.

The entire city of Boston was our playground. We would spend many a Saturday afternoon walking the city streets. Early in the morning, we would take the trolley or the train into Boston. Starting at Park St station or Downtown Crossing, we would wander anywhere and everywhere. Life was different then and the city wasn't something to be feared. It was a place to explore; a place where something new could be found at any moment around any corner.

We would follow the "Freedom Trail" or visit some other point of interest as if we were out of state tourists. On hot summer days, we would spend the day swimming at the Boston Commons Frog Pond or riding the swan boats in the Public Gardens. We would ride to the top of the tallest buildings looking out when we could or just pushing every button on the elevator; annoying the people that would have the misfortune of getting on with us as we rode up and down until we were bored and moved on to the next tower.

One of our favorite pastimes was going to one the many theaters that lined Washington St in downtown Boston and seeing movies. More often than not, we never had money enough to buy tickets so we developed schemes to raise the price of admission by asking people on the street for money. We would hang out in the theater district, telling sad stories to strangers.

The stories were along the lines of "I lost my money and I have no car-fare to get me and my brother back home". Or "some other kids stole our money" or "we took the wrong train and don't have enough to get back home". Usually we would add something that implied that if they didn't help us our lives were in danger. Something like "If I call my parents we are going to get in a lot of trouble when they find out."

We would do this until we had enough to get in to a movie or play games at the arcade on Washington St. It usually didn't take long. Rosie was a natural flirt. Rosie could charm just about anyone ... especially the men. She could sell an air-conditioner to an Eskimo in a blizzard.

While we were never afraid when we were out together, we had a few scares that made us more cautious. Being older, Rosie was a bit more on the wild side than I was. She was curious, fearless and took any dare that promised adventure. I always felt like it was my job to protect Rosie from herself.

The story I tell most often when I talk about Rosie happened on one of our day-trips downtown. It showed clearly to me that there was lot about my sister that was secret even to me. She had experience beyond her years and a shrewd mind. She feared no one and loved taking chances.

After a day of prowling the city streets, we went to the Essex St train station to ride the train home. Essex St then was in the center of the theater district, which was on the way to transforming into what was soon referred to as the "Combat Zone". It became a place full of adult entertainment, sin and debauchery. As an adult, Rosie loved the Zone. My sister was almost responsible for it. At least that's what I used to say when teasing her.

The Essex St train station was a long station where people only exited and entered at one end. It was long enough to hold an eight-car train but four cars were usually all they ever hooked up. So the far end was deserted essentially. Nobody went down there. The other end was a dark, dirty dead end with places only a person who needed to go there went. Like MTA employees.

While we were waiting for the train to arrive, a man approached us and started talking to Rosie. He seemed pleasant and never the shy one Rosie was her normal gregarious self. Soon Rosie was giggling like a young girl does when she is enamored by attention and flirting away. The man said he had some things to do and needed to leave early. He said he worked for the MTA and asked if we wanted to make some money helping him close some doors in the station. He would pay us $10.00. As always, I was immediately suspicious but my sister Rosie's eyes went wide at the ten-dollar offer. She eagerly agreed before I could say anything to change her mind and so we followed the man to the other end.

He led us to the far end and we turned the corner. To my surprise there was an exit with turnstiles that obviously been closed to public use a long time ago. From the station entrance where people came in the opening was virtually invisible. When we reached the end, the man turned to us with a big smile. One almost as big as the one my sister was wearing thinking about the ten dollars we were soon to get.

"OK," he said, "keep watch and tell me if anyone is coming and I'll show you something secret only employees know about."
It never occurred to me to ask why an employee needed me to keep watch for him so I stepped back to keep a lookout. The three or four other people who were in the station at the public end seemed a mile away. As I watched for people approaching, I heard my sister say something. While I can't recall her words exactly, it was something along the lines of "Wow!" or "Boy!" It was the sort of thing that you say when you see something impressive.

When I turned to look, I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. It was the biggest, weirdest and scariest thing I'd ever seen in my life. The man stood there smiling like a madman and holding what had to be a gigantic stick of salami sticking out of his pants!

For a moment I wondered why a man would carry salami in his pants but being the genius that I was, I quickly realized that that thing was no salami and he was no MTA worker. He was the man everybody warned you about when you were kids. He was a genuine PERVERT! And if that thing was really his pecker, as I was almost certain it was, he was a MUTANT GIANT PERVERT as well!

And he was after my beloved sister Rosie!

Rosie did not seem to be aware of the danger she was in and just stood staring and grinning at the man who by now was rubbing and polishing the salami vigorously. I was prepared to fight to the death to protect my sister but, as small as I was, I was sure it would be a short battle. And I would most likely not be the victor.

As luck would have it, a train entered the station at the far end. I yelled for Rosie to run for the train. But Rosie didn't react as I expected. She still stood there staring and smiling. I yelled again and reached for her. To this day, even though she always denied it, I swear she said, "wait". But I wasn't waiting to see what plans this guy had for that salami. I grabbed her hand and pulled her with me. I ran to the train as fast as I was able to pulling ... and I do mean pulling ... a reluctant Rosie with me. I was trying to save her life but she wasn't making it easy.

We reached the first car of the train and got through the doors just as they started to close. Safely aboard, we went to the front of the car and watched as the train pulled out of the station. When we reached the end where the pervert had been he was gone. Where he went, how he got out of the sealed up entrance is still a mystery to me. I had looked back as we ran and he never followed us. I stood looking out the window and waited until we were far from the station before I relaxed. It was then that I realized that I had saved my sisters life. I was a hero! I expected her to get all gushy and thankful for my efforts.

"Wow that was close!" I said still breathless. "That guy was a PERVERT! He didn't work for the MTA at all I'll bet. We're lucky the train came, huh? We could have been killed or something. Why did he do that for? Wow that was scary!"
"Yeah, I guess," she said.

Instead of looking like someone who had just escaped from a lunatic with her life, Rosie looked more like someone who had just been seriously disappointed. The way a kid looks when he opens a present that he is sure is the toy he's been waiting for only to find an ugly sweater. Trying to look pleased while saying thank you to the person that gave it to him, all the while feeling cheated.

"Are you OK?" I asked. "I didn't hurt you when pulling you did I"?

"I'm OK. Thanks for saving me, I know you were trying to help", she said.

"Well you don't look happy," I said.

"It wasn't that scary, I seen guys do that before. It's funny to watch, but I didn't care about that... it doesn't take long. We did what he said. We should have waited."

"Waited?" I asked, "What for?"

"We would have got the $10.00 from him," She said.

I loved my sister Rosie.

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