On the occasion of the passing of John Payne's beloved sister, Rosemarie, I would like to say a word of praise in honor of older sisters that stepped in with the absence of a birth mother, or simply served as another surrogate mother in a large family. My beautiful, red-headed sister Mary (May-May), nearly ten years older than I, served this role within our family. She willingly bathed my younger brother Jim and myself, dressed us, made our Halloween costumes and even served as assistant Den Mother to our fracus group of Cub Scouts. She knew all sorts of interesting things, like the way to the Wissahickon duck pond; the way to the Shore, and best of all, the way to Willow Grove Park. She was, in my eyes, like the Lewis and Clark expedition team in shorts. In other words, she was a dynamic 'piece of work.'
Once on our way to Willow Grove, on the 23 trolley, I suffered a sudden bout of motion sickness. In a frantic need to pinch open those little windows, and get my little mouth between the bars protecting the windows, I let go, raining down a God awful mess of undigested Wheaties--"The Breakfast of Champions"-- right into a passing red convertible, being driven by a shocked young man. I may have told May, "Oh, shit!" while the guy beneath us was screaming "Bastards!". He chased us for blocks, probably getting more angry by the moment, until we exited the trolley at Chestnut Hill. "I think we're dead, May" "Nonsense" she replied, "let me handle this..." Within moments, my beautiful sister (Did I mention she was one of the runner ups to Miss Penn, back in the day?) had this irate madman charmed. He even offered to take us the remaining way to Willow Grove. But May-May and I, glancing at the bits of Wheaties in his hair and the mess in his car, respectfully declined. Such is the value of having an older sister. God bess them, John, yours and mine.