Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Uncle Mommy ~ Best Baby Sitter Ever

Barbara, Joan, Rory, me in the summer of 1958
Pryor children babysitting rule #1: all assignments outside the Pryor apartment were only accepted by our grandparents and my mother's two sisters. All other houses begged off. There was one unbreakable caveat with the aunts and the grandparents ~ no one would watch the two of us together. The extended family agreed, "Tommy and Rory were not allowed in the same house without parental supervision."
Rory and I fought over any spot on the couch the other was in; the last slice of bacon and battled to the death over who licked the tuna fish bowl after Mom made our sandwiches.

When Bob and Patty Pryor went out, Rory stayed with the Ryan grandparents or Barbara and Mickey. I stayed with the Pryor-Rode grandparents or Joan and George.
Freedomland 
Rory and I had our needs met at all households, but Joannie had bongos, an FM radio and a bullfighter poster on her wall. She had a calypso bar with high stools and wore clam diggers as she danced and sang around the living room. I kept expecting Trini Lopez to drop in.
Uncle Mommy & me, on Hudson, 1963
Joan and George took me to the beach named after Joan. This was good since the Pryors didn't have a car.


I loved my grandparents, aunts and uncles, but my favorite babysitter was Mom. Sometimes, it was just her and me. She called me her “Cow, Cow, Boogie,” and I called her "Good Ol' Uncle Mommy," she asked me why, "because you're the best uncle I ever had!"

Mom giving Dad the business @ 1962
We snuggled on our tiny 83rd Street couch watching The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock on Friday nights after Rory conked out. Her smile stopped my clock.

I was a lousy artist, a stinky poet, and I had a stutter. None of this disrupted me from trying to make Uncle Mommy laugh. She loved Rory and me like a freight train. Today Mom would be 90, and I'm still working on stuff for her. It's my job. To Make Uncle Mommy laugh.

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