Friday, October 7, 2016

Twins Books

     The first series of Twins books I read belonged to my cousin Betty.  I know I was six, because in 1932, deep in the Depression, we were homeless and "doubled up" with my father's relatives in Buffalo.
     Here's everything I remember about the Bobbsey Twins:   Bert and Nan were eight years old; Flossie and Freddie were half past four.  They lived in Lakeville.  And some girl in the book became seriously sick because she disregarded her mother's warning and jumped rope 100 times.  I was just learning to jump rope (counting of course) and I had a nightmare.
     I wouldn't turn six until the end of February, but someone had talked me into first grade.  That must have been a crowded house, come to think of it.  Betty had a twin (!), my folks had a new baby, and they probably wanted to get me out from underfoot. Number 74 was a forward-looking demonstration school for the Normal School, the two-year teachers' college.
     Our pleasant young teacher posted a clipping -- the first words I learned to read -- the masthead
                          Buffalo Evening News
 in gothic type.
     The next year we moved to the slums of Lynn, Massachusetts, and doubled up with my mother's relatives -- four adults, two children, a toddler and a baby, in a four-room "cold-water flat" above a little grocery store.  The icebox, I remember, was outside in the stair landing.
     So I started second grade, and I have only one memory of that school in Lynn -- the day the principal took me out to the room next door.  She handed me an open book, stood me in front of those third-graders and said "Read it out loud."  Hard to believe anyone would do that, but she did.
 I still remember that first sentence:  "One summer morning, very early, Vrouw Vedder opened the door of her little Dutch kitchen and stepped out."  I had trouble six words in, with "Vrouw".  Must have got it, though, because then and there I was "skipped"  -- ended up six years old in the third grade.  Evidently if you could read, you didn't belong in second grade.  Not in that school, anyhow.
     And what I set out to tell you is that, reading through my top shelf now, I discovered I OWN THE BOOK.  The Dutch Twins, by Lucy Fitch Perkins!  The original 1911 edition!  A pencilled booksellers' note on the flyleaf says I paid $15 for it, evidently in the 1990s.   
     So does anyone else remember that other Twins series, which turned up several times later as I kept changing schools?  Here's what sticks in my memory -- the Scotch Twins (yes, now I think it should have been Scottish but it wasn't) met the Young Laird out on the hills.  The Japanese twin told her brother "that pot is always rice -- what's cooking in the other one?"  And the Irish Twins had an uncle who had emigrated and was a policeman in Boston.
                I don't remember a thing about the Cave Twins.


  1. Edith, what a flood of memories your posting has created. Thank you! The cover of The Dutch Twins looks familiar to me, but I can't remember the books. If our branch of the Chicago Public Library had them, I would have read them. Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that Lucy FP, "Houghton-Mifflin's most profitable author", grew up in Maples, Indiana, a tiny community then and now just southeast of Fort Wayne, which is 30 minutes north of Berne, where my husband grew up and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law now live. Ten minutes south of Berne is Geneva, first home of Gene (Geneva) Stratton-Porter, whose books I do remember. My mother had a copy of The Girl of the Limberlost, which she shared with me. Though Rome City, Indiana, northeast of Fort Wayne, has the home described as Limberlost North, Geneva has the original Limberlost home, which is fun to tour. Gene S-P had a most interesting life. This area of Indiana is full of Swiss place names and is still home to many descendants of the Swiss Mennonites (John's mom was one) who settled there. Those lady authors surely left their marks.

  2. More memories! Of course I read the Girl of the Limberlost but it was more than 75 years ago! I loved it, tho when I re-read as a teenager, if I remember right I was a bit skeptical of her ability to play that violin untaught -- was there a violin? I enjoyed Freckles, I loved The Harvester..thought it wildly romantic.

  3. Never encountered the Dutch (etc.) Twins, and only read a Bobbsey Twins or two under duress. But the Anne of Green Gables series had several sets of twins: Not only did Anne have to care for three pairs during her abused-orphan days, but she had a set of her own (Nan and Diana) after she finally got around to marrying Gilbert.

    And I too read The Girl of the Limberlost, although I too was skeptical of Elnora's instant violin prowess. (Of course, I'd already had to suffer through the sounds my sister was producing even after several years of instruction, so I came by the skepticism honestly.)

  4. I didn't read Girl of the L until adulthood. The main thing I remember from it is that some butterflies are attracted to horse manure. Can't remember why that detail was in the book, though.