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Rose Masciello's Autobiography - Chapter Twenty Three

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                           Sally and Tootsie
 

The 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.

One 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?”

Mama answered, “Yes, and if you are careful and promise not to go around the whole block you may go up to the corner
bakery shop.”

In a flash my bike became the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and I turned into Miss Columbus, on my way to
discover America.

I arrived at the barbershop and cheerfully waved to my father who was gazing out of his shop’s window.  He stepped
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.

They approached me with friendly smiles, and with raised eyebrows they asked, “Are you a new neighbor?  We’ve
never seen you before.”

I 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.”

“Oh 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 through her
new hairdo.

Her 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.

I 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.”

Sally pouted and said, “We’re not babies. We’re going to be eight years old in two weeks, on August 16th. How old are
you?”

I 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 you?”

I said “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 last.

I 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
show me how?” Sally didn’t seem to be interested in riding a bike. She said she enjoyed skating.  However, they
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 to
be together the next day so I felt no need to explore any further. I would ride to the corner bakery another
day—probably with 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 little eight-year
old girl in Flatbush.