Friday, May 20, 2005
My Sister The Hippie
We didn't see many hippies in a conservative southern town like Chattanooga. So naturally when our sister Susan came home from Minneasota, she suddenly became the topic of many a whispered conversation. Not only was she a flower child, but she also was a vegetarian, lived in an Ashram and followed a Guru. She dressed differently too, wearing long brightly colored skirts, Indian jewelry, no shoes, and black leotards. Our Aunt Fran was mortified. ("She's not even wearing a bra!")

Iris and I were, of course, fascinated. We were never quite sure what Susan was going to do next--only that it was bound to upset the adults. In our world of meatloaf, polyester school uniforms, and Bobby Sherman, she was like some exotic bird. And she didn't seem to care one bit what people thought of her.

Once she took us out with her to the local Red Food grocery store, and the manager made us leave because she wasn't wearing any shoes. Susan argued with him about it while Iris and I watched, wide-eyed. When he insisted that her feet had to be covered, she grabbed two paper bags, stuck a foot in each one, and defied him to say another word. He finally backed down, and we bought our groceries and left. ("Like there is really that much difference between going barefoot and wearing flip-flops or something!"Susan told us in the car.)

Susan's gifts to us always made Aunt Fran crazy--like the time she gave us a coloring book that was filled with drawings of nude people surrounded by rainbows and flowers and words like love and peace. Once she gave me a copy of Malcom X, which I got about halfway through before our aunt confiscated it. Susan was pretty mad when she found out about that.

Another time my sister gave me a big book of Greek mythology and inscribed it as " stories about gods and goddesses like you and Iris." My aunt was appalled. She said she didn't want us getting fancy ideas in our heads. She made Iris and I sit through a fifteen minute lecture on how there was no such thing as goddesses, how we were nothing special, and that we were not to believe things just because Susan said them. I loved that book fiercely and used to carry it around with me wherever I went. I still have it on my shelf to this day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Susan loved to sing and taught us songs like "the Erie Canal" and "The Water Is Wide" and "He's My Groovy Guru." Iris and I loved performing for her, and sometimes I would sing her songs I had learned in Catholic School.

"If you give your life to him
He'll forgive you of your sins,
He'll help you find your way
Cause you've heard of Christ before
And you know that life is more
Than just holding on."

Susan stared at me dumbfounded. "That's a Beatles song!"

I paused. "What?"

"That song--it's 'If I Fell' by the Beatles! Only they've changed the words."

I shrugged. "I dunno, Sister Mary Reginald taught it to us in religion class"

I adored Sister Mary Reginald. I was going to be a nun like her when I grew up.

Susan freaked. "She can't DO that! That's got to be copyright infringement or something! She taught you that?"

"Yeah. She played a record of it and gave us handouts with the words."

"A record!" Susan was incredulous. "There's an actual recording of that stuff?"

I nodded.

"There is no way the Beatles would let them do that. No way!"

"Why not?" I asked cocking my head to one side.

"They just wouldn't. " She looked at me with a pained expression on her face. "Trust me on this one."

She paced the floor muttering something under her breath about contacting record labels and breaking copyright laws and illegal recordings. When Susan got worked up about something, she usually did something about it. I had visions of the police surrounding our school telling Sister Mary Reginald to come out with her hands up.

I wondered if they would let Sister wear her habit in jail or if they would make her wear a prison uniform . . .
Memories and musings shared by Juno
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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