The beginnings of a book, feedbacks GREATLY apperitiated! I hope you enjoy it!
|Her voice was like butter. Smooth, rich, wonderful, and it could stop your heart. She had the uncanny ability to make every person in the room feel like she was singing to only them. The look o her audience’s faces alone were telling of her unbelievable ability. Was I jealous of her? Of course I was. After all, she was my older sister. I was not jealous just because she was good, but because she was better than me.
Growing up in New York City gave both my sister and me a sense of our competition. By the time I was 16 and she was 18, our mother knew we were meant to perform. I will always remember the day she told us that, too. It was during the summer 1966.
My sister and I would spend our summers doing absolutely nothing. Occasionally we would do odd jobs for our mother or run errands. At night, we would go our separate ways with our friends or boyfriends, but during the day, while it was too hot to do much of anything, we sat in our room and listened to records. Our mother never ceased to nag us about the volume of our player. She would always scream our full names too, like that would actually make a difference. In fact, my mother was the only person who called my sister by her full name: Josephine. Everyone else called her Joey. People were always making comments about our names. They would always ask our mother, “Josephine and Brooke? What kind of Jewish names are those?” Our mother would use these comments to her advantage however. She would respond with a solemn, straight face, “Those were the names of my mother and my sister, both of whom were killed in the camps.” None of this was true, but it would leave the woman with a look like she had just been slapped in the face. The fact of the matter was, my mother just plain and simple liked those names and she didn’t give a damn what other people thought, Jew or Gentile.
So, this one afternoon my sister and I were in our room listening to Barbara Streisand sing Happy Days. Now, we like The Beatles and all of the other rock groups the other kids liked, but we especially loved the belters and the old jazz and blues singers. As we were listening to Barbara, Joey began singing along. I ha always known that she could sing beautifully, so this came as no surprise to me. But then she stopped. “Please don’t stop, Jo! It sounds wonderful!” I said.
“Sing with me, Brooke, I have never heard you sing before.”
I thought she had lost it. There was no way that I could sing like that. But then again, I had never tried. So when Joey started up again, I came in too. I don’t know what had happened, but the sound coming out of my mouth was not bad! It actually was pretty good! Then, naturally, we started harmonizing with each other and Barbara. There we were, the three of us, singing our heads off and not really realizing how good we sounded.
We were so enveloped in what we were doing; we did not hear our mother come home. Usually, when she came home from work she was cranky and took the time to scold us about our music and it not helping her headache. That day was different. Instead, when the song was over, mother was in the doorway applauding us. We both jumped about ten feet in the air because neither of us had heard her come up.
“Jesus, Ma!” exclaimed Joey. “You wanna give me a heart attack?”
Our mother did not respond. She couldn’t. She just stood there, beaming and clapping like she had just seen a Broadway production.
“Was it that good?” I asked.
Not answering my question, my mother said, “You two will make it someday. I don’t know much about music but I know what sounds good, and that was good.” My sister and I couldn’t help but crack up. Our mother was crazy. As we were rolling on the floor in hysterics, mother just smiled and shook her head.
“You will see,” she said. “You will see. After all, your mother always knows best.”
Joey and I continued life normally after that. We still sang together of course, but only because it was so much fun. The next school year would be Joey’s last. A lot of the kids from our high school were planning on attending college but Joey and I knew that we just didn’t have the money for that. However, this year of school would bring about an opportunity that made college seem like a chore.