"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Whenever Frank was out to sea for a long period, Mickey moved home to Mama.
While she was home, she always had a boyfriend … I should say boyfriends, plural.
I developed young. I got my first period at half past ten years old. I was into a C cup bra at age 13, and I could pass for sixteen without trying. I had to tell many of them to “go to hell.” A couple of them I had to hit in the face. Mickey always became upset with me for being mean to her boyfriends.
When I was 13, she began dating the man who would become my second step-father. She thought it was hilarious when he would quote Rusty Warren at me, telling me “knockers up, Beatrice.”
I started painting in oils at 12 under the tutelage of my aunt who was an artist. I had been drawing for years, watching John Nagy on tv and had his drawing sets. I stretched my own canvases. Stretching the canvas onto the wooden frame required canvas pliers. They had a long rectangular mouth to get a good grip and pull the canvas tight.
Those pliers amused Mike. He would pick them up and playfully threaten my nipples with them calling them ‘titty pinchers.’ Mickey had no problem with that. The constant sexual innuendoes and harrassment had a heavy impact upon me.
I became withdrawn. I took to wearing mostly black and navy blue in an attempt to de-emphasize my breasts. I should have told Mama and Papa about it, but Mickey ridiculed my reactions to Mike’s remarks, and I never told them.
One day, I informed Mickey that I intended to go to college because I wanted to have a career. She became very irritated with me over it. She had left high school in her senior year and gotten a job. She gave me the ‘power behind the throne’ lecture and followed that with what a woman’s proper place was.
The next day, she enrolled me in secretarial school. I went to high school during the day and secretarial school at night, learning typing, shorthand, and dictation so that I could get a proper job and stop thinking about college.
A few weeks later, she came to me smiling and said, “Janny, I just had the most wonderful dream. I dreamed that you got pregnant and the boy refused to marry you, so you gave me the baby.”
Needless to say, I was appalled and she was angry. Nearly 30 years later I confronted her and she denied that she had ever said any of these things to me. I guess the events held more significant to me and they did to her.
If I remember correctly, I started taking karate lessons when I was 14 or 15. That angered her. She said that I was only doing it to ‘beat up on men.’ The fact that my physical therapist had suggested it held no water with her.
I enjoyed karate tremendously. For the first time since I had polio, I could do something interesting with my body and became very excited about it. However, if I brought it up in front of her, my brothers, or my step-father, I was snubbed.
Over a period of time, my brother Don began trying to provoke me into a fist fight because I was taking karate lessons. Mama did not want me to fight him and I obeyed her. Over a period of months, the provocations grew to monstrous proportions. Don finally told me that Mickey had asked him to put me in my place and that he intended to do so. There would eventually be a fist fight between Don and me, but it came several years later.
By the time that I was 16, I was desperate to get away from them. Papa retired, and Mama suggested moving to Texas which would put them close to the majority of the relatives. I told her that I was in favor of it. So we moved and I then no longer had to deal with Mickey.