I told Judy last night that I have a theory about why we six have always managed to stick together despite some being fabric store fanatics, some being spendthrifts, and the like. My theory is this: We were isolated. We had no other playmates. Mother built a safe haven for us and Dad protected us. We had to depend on each other, look after each other. Like the time the schoolbus driver kicked Louise (Louise? are you kidding?) off the bus for something she didn't do, and we all dutifully and loyally trooped off with her. The girls had no choice but to be close since they shared a room, all crammed cozily together, while I luxuriated in my private room, until Steve came along and started annoying me. I never had a male playmate. I had four sisters for playmates. I never learned sports, how to throw a ball. But I learned to make up fantastic tales in my imagination, to invent games with my sisters, to lead Liz astray who believed everything, to play annie-annie over the house, to throw rocks on the galvanized metal outhouse roof when someone was in there, to play school, road, build forts out of sagebrush, to haul Mother's Children's Literature book around the yard, to dig holes in the orchard to hide from Mother, to play our imaginary family sagas. Louise taught me to read, I tried to teach Liz how to read but she couldn't understand ditto marks. Sad.
It wasn't just that we were isolated and had no other playmates. Our home was a safe haven. We never felt threatened. We were never hungry. We stayed warm in the winter with coal and cottonwood. We were lonesome for Dad and watched for the little Model A roadster on Saturday nights when he would come bearing the Denver Post funnies and maybe make a kite and fly it for us. We ran in the country lanes, climbed on the snowdrifts in winter, played in the leaves in autumn. We lived in close proximity to one another. We pretty much knew everything there was to know about each other. My sisters tattled on me. Other than little spats, I don't every remember any serious animosity that ever existed among any of us. We teased, we played pranks. We never talked about fairness, how tough life was, or why we had so little. We grew up together, and we have continued to live life together, no matter how far apart or how much our lives diverged. We have never, any of us, ever really left Penrose.