5 of 9

I am 5 of 9.

I grew up the fifth of nine children.

Hadn’t thought much about it until a phrase came to my consciousness the other day.

“Place back,

Chair back,

Everything there back.”

Has any other family used that? It was a sing-song mantra we used to yell out that had a specific purpose.

When watching the “Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday night, all nine of us (11 with the folks) would be draped over every chair, sofa, stack of pillows, and often each other to get a good view of the 13-inch TV set. When the inevitable need arose to use the bathroom, or when one of us was talked into popping corn by an older sibling we happened to like at the time, we would have to leave the room.

This forced a major strategic maneuver. A favorable piece of floor real estate, or, on rare and treasured occasions, a seat on one of the La Z Boy recliners, was not to be surrendered lightly. The unwritten rule was “losers weepers, finders keepers” which applied to pocketknives, coins in couches, and seating arrangements. But we developed a clause that protected our prime position during any run from the room:

“Place back,

Chair back,

Everything there back.”

That shouted announcement was as airtight as any written contract. Upon returning to the scene, we could legally reclaim our seat. Sure, someone else might occupy it while we were gone, but they had better jump when the original claimant showed back up.

Amazingly, this worked. There was rarely a dispute. The only exception came if you stayed away too long. There was a statute of limitations on the spell, so if “Andy Griffith” was over and “Dick Van Dyke” had started, you might get an argument that you couldn’t save your seat through two programs.

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Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228
830-997-2155