“THE WHARF RATS” & THE TWINS
(Above photo of the twins sailing off Hilton Head in Hank's Catboat and twins sailing in Barnstable Harbor with their friends, called (by our mother) "The Wharf Rats."
My Mother was an avid reader and writer. Starting in college (Brown University’s Pembroke) as editor of the school bulletin, she went on to become book editor of the Hilton Head Island Packet. I helped her publish a number of books, including one called Mill Ends and Remnants. Mother had a pleasant, friendly style in her writing. In mother’s chapter called, “Adolescents,” she wrote about her “Twins.”
Much has recently been written about twins as well as adolescents, now called, for some unknown reason, young adults. However they are named, behavioral patterns of all are similar. Girls are more independent and assertive early on; Mercy, older than her brother, Hank, by seven minutes demonstrated these characteristics even before they were born by fighting it out inside me for three days before she emerged triumphant. Later, I could place them in separate playpens, at opposite ends of a room only to hear howls from both half an hour later. Mercy had somehow worked her playpen up beside Hank’s and managed to pull all of his toys into hers. The same thing happened with cribs in their bedroom until we finally had enough sense to remove the casters.
But eventually Hank would assert himself, sometimes with disastrous results as on one Sunday afternoon driving down from Maine. Screams from the back seat. Hank had bitten his sister on the back between her shoulder blades, which was a feat in itself. Somehow, I managed to live through the summers in the early 50’s in Barnstable when the twins were home from boarding school. They acquired a group of friends named by us ‘the wharf rats.” They were constantly present either personally or on the telephone. Regularly every Sunday.
They spent hours sitting around in the boat house which had once more been fixed up with odd pieces of furniture discarded by various parents, or they messed around in boats, often, for some inexplicable reason, while sailing out in the middle of the harbor, feeling the urge to yell up at companions who were on the back porch of the house. The girls spent much of their time stretched supine on the splintery boards of the yacht club acquiring tans as well as splinters. Mercy took sailing lessons. Since she was so busy trying to become a bronzed sex symbol, it was Hank who won seven prizes on Labor Day for his performance in their 14-foot Beetle Cat Racer.
After reading my Mother’s book, I’m inspired, again, to write something about Pat and my adult children—in their early years. Watch for this!