A Dwarf, A Boy, and His Dog

Larry and Carleen

My brother and oldest sister were a year apart, with the same dark brown hair and brown eyes. When he was four, Larry wore an eye patch, and in first grade, glasses. He had a lazy eye, the only thing that was ever lazy about that boy. In September of 1940, he attended first grade at Notre Dame Academy, the Catholic school across the street from St. Patrick’s Church in Watsonville. His teacher, a nun, was a dwarf and the same height as her students. Along with their ABCs, she taught them Chinese, as she’d been a former Catholic missionary in China.

My brother was the experimenter in the family, always wanting to know how things worked, but having the knack to find out the hard way. When he was seven, he was playing with matches, trying carefully to burn the little balls off the white bedroom curtains in Mom and Dad’s room. The sheers instantly went up in flames. Larry didn’t know what to do, so he tore down the charred remains and hid them in the closet. The wall was badly singed but luckily the house didn’t burn down. Dad was enraged and told my brother he’d give him a strapping he’d never forget. Daddy was right. He never forgot.

The only pet the family ever had was when they lived in Watsonville. My brother had a dog, but he didn’t have him for long. He was a little black-and-white eight-year-old mongrel, and Larry loved him. One day our parents took a Sunday drive out of town with Larry and Carleen in the back and Mom and Dad with the dog in the front; when they stopped, my parents quietly let the dog out. As they turned around to head back to town, Larry heard barking and swiveled his head, looking out the back window.

“Hey, that looks like our dog. HEY!” he yelled, “that IS our dog.” 

Daddy kept driving; he and Mom stared straight ahead. In silent unison they reflected—that was your dog.


Share this:


  1. John Duchi says:

    Oh, Gordon still had to deal with his crazy sister and her pets. Remember when we brought our Newfoundland to the campground that summer? That was one big dog. If I recall correctly he wasn’t overjoyed but he let my mother get away with it.

    • Gordon is a good guy, just not a dog guy. I also remember the story when Mom cooked your mother’s pet chicken for dinner. I think she had an evil streak in her. My mother, not yours. What, what? They both did. Your mother was funnier though.

  2. Wow! How do I respond to that? Guess I can just say, “I understand ” about the therapy thing… I have spent my life in therapy! Lol!

  3. Oh that’s so sad!!!! I’ll bet your brother never got over it.
    Frank still won’t eat lamb because his pet lamb got butchered.
    I still miss my Dumbo that my mother threw away.
    Old wounds, still healing.

    • My brother has never had a pet since. He kept a diary from the time he was 13 until graduating from high school, and his favorite books were dog stories. I’m amazed all of us have not spent our lives in therapy…

Speak Your Mind