Sally and Tootsie
neighborhood was still unfamiliar to us, so my mother, being overly
protective, did not allow me to venture
further away than a few feet
from our own front stoop.
day I said to my mother, “Mama, soon I will be eight years old. Don’t
you think I should be allowed to ride my
bike up to Papa’s barber
shop and back?”
answered, “Yes, and if you are careful and promise not to go around the
whole block you may go up to the corner
flash my bike became the
Santa Maria, and I turned into Miss Columbus, on my way to
arrived at the barbershop and cheerfully waved to my father who was
gazing out of his shop’s window.
outside and with the air of a patrol officer, he
sternly asked me, “Where is your passport?”
We laughed as I explained
that Mama had given me permission
to explore as far as the corner bakery shop.
Feeling rather frisky I continued on my way, merrily riding my bike
sideways. A few doors away from my father’s
shop I noticed from the
corner of my eye, two young girls sitting on the steps of their front
stoop. They watched
me curiously and as I was about to pass them by
they waved and started to walk towards me.
approached me with friendly smiles, and with raised eyebrows they asked,
“Are you a new neighbor?
never seen you before.”
answered, “Yes, we moved to Flatbush just a few weeks ago.” Then I
proudly added, “John the Barber is my father.
He owns his barber
shop and gives great haircuts.”
yes, he does,” they answered simultaneously.
Then one of the girls said, “Mr. John gave me and my sister
Buster Brown haircuts that we just love.
Don’t we Sally?” Sally agreed as she primped and ran her fingers
sister said “We’re twins and our nick names are Sally and Tootsie.” I
was surprised to learn that the girls were twins.
They did not
resemble each other. Sally
was thin and had dark hair and eyes. Tootsie was robust and had exotic
almond shaped hazel eyes.
said, “My name is Rose and I have a four year old brother, Tony. Do you
have any brothers?”
Yes,” answered Tootsie “his name is Louie and he’s twelve years old. He
likes to tease us and calls us the
“Dolly Twins” and sometimes he
calls us babies.”
pouted and said, “We’re not babies. We’re going to be eight years old in
two weeks, on August 16th. How old are
said, “I will be eight years old in two months, on October 26th. They clapped their hands and said, “Oh we’re the
same age and maybe
we’ll be in the same class. You’ll be going to Public School 89 won’t
“yes,” and while they rejoiced at the prospect of us being in the same
class, I silently thanked God that I had
found girl playmates at
missed my boy cousins and truly loved them all, but I rarely enjoyed
playing “Cowboys and Indians” and
“Cops and Robbers.” Now I felt
lucky that we had moved to Flatbush and on Nostrand Avenue no less!
Tootsie said, “We saw you riding your bike sideways.
Where did you learn to do that? I have a bike. Would you
me how?” Sally didn’t seem to be interested in riding a bike. She said
she enjoyed skating.
both listened in rapt attention as I told them about
my exciting time at the Barnum & Bailey Circus. I promised Tootsie
that I would help her to ride her bike sideways if she brought a box of
band-aids to the lessons.
When we finally parted I rode away with
heartfelt gratitude for having met the twins. They had made plans for us
be together the next day so I felt no need to explore any
further. I would ride to the corner bakery another
my new friends. Now I was eager to tell Mama my wonderful news.
When I arrived home my mother smiled contentedly as she listened to the
excitement in my voice as I said, “Mama,
I’ve just met two girls,
they’re Sally and Tootsie. They live just a few doors away from Papa’s
barbershop and they’re
my age. We hope to be in the same class when
the new term starts. They have an older brother, Louie, who is in a
higher grade. I just know we’re going to be good friends. Mama, tomorrow
you and Tony must come with me so that
you can meet my new
playmates, Sally and Tootsie.”
I could hardly wait for the next
day. That night Miss Columbus went to sleep feeling like the happiest
old girl in Flatbush.