I’ve always been fascinated by the stories families tell about each other, particularly when the stories conflict.
The event that occasioned my weaning from the bottle has always been one of my favorites. My father told me his version throughout my childhood to demonstrate what I spirited little thing I was, and I reveled in the drama of the image that the story evoked.
I didn’t think to ask my mother for her version until I was an adult and had a child of my own.
Weaning Baby Liz from the Bottle
According to my father, I was weaned from the bottle on the day that my mother came into my room to get me up from my nap and I was so happy to see her that I tossed my bottle out of the crib with such gay abandon that it smashed on the floor like a wineglass, spraying milk and broken glass all over the room. And my mother vowed, that as God was her witness, Liz would never drink from a bottle again!
My mother’s version of the story is that I woke up from my nap and unscrewed the top from the bottle, dumped the milk on myself, then waited miserably in my wet nightie in my wet crib for someone to come in and clean up the mess.
One of my earliest memories is of the time my family lived in Coventry, Rhode Island. The day I’m remembering would have happened in 1958, about a year after this picture of my baby brother and me was taken.
Once George had grown out of infancy, he was a mischievous little fellow, and one day he somehow locked himself in the house’s one bathroom, which I discovered when I couldn’t get the door open.
I yelled for my mother because I had to go, and she stood outside the door and tried to explain to George how to turn the lever below the doorknob. She must have thought that since his stubby little fingers had managed to lock it, his stubby little fingers should be able to unlock it.
Nothing but a stream of giggles came from behind the locked door. At that point, I was shrieking because I HAD TO GO, and my mother went next door to get help in the form of a neighbor’s young son, who wriggled through the bathroom window and unlocked the door.
Liz & The Little Neighbor Boy Who Saved the Day
This angelic portrait of my brother George and me, taken around 1960, was our father’s favorite of the two of us. It held the place of honor on the desk in his study long after George and I were grown.
I remember it took the photographer a while to get George to stop crying; he finally gave in to the distraction of a squeaky toy. I was most concerned about the cut of my bangs.
Kaye Tatro, Betty Rodger, Liz Gauffreau, Elliott Gauffreau (1971 Enosburg Falls High School Academic Fair)
Here I am attempting to improvise my way through a French skit after I couldn’t be bothered to learn my lines. “La Concierge” was not my finest hour. But, hey, my dad liked it.