My Mom and Pop, newlyweds, 1940
Ike and Betty (my parents) had three children, all boys. My Mom always wanted a girl. She was the youngest in her family and had lost her Mother when she wasn’t quite two years old. She grew up without a Mother and thus always wanted a girl of her own to make up for her lonely childhood.
Mom on the left with her two older brothers, Randy and George in 1928 - her older brothers tore the head off of her big doll later - Mom never forgot
My Mom got married when she was sixteen years old to an 18 year old transplanted hillbilly whose family immigrated to southern Chester County in 1930 to work picking fruit and vegetables on his Uncle Donald Byrd’s farm near Unionville, PA.
My dad's ID card from his job at Lukens Steel Co. 1941
The tall, young, blonde haired gangly man with the big smile she married was the fifth child of a family of eleven boys. There was a twelfth boy (a twin) who died at birth. My dad had ten brothers and no sisters.
The eleven Tipton Brothers at the Tipton Family Reunion, Downingtown, PA 1960
On November 9, 1941, I was the first born of my parents' three children. My Mother already had a girl’s name picked out for me (Louise, her middle name) if I was a girl. Since I wasn’t a girl so she named me after a popular movie star of the day, Ronald Coleman. My father wanted to name me after him, Isaac, but she thought “Isaac” was an ugly name. She told him “You’re not naming any of my children that ugly name.”
Ronald Colman the movie actor and baby Ron 1941
On April 8, 1943 my brother Isaac, Jr. was born. As you can surmise, my Mother relented in her opposition to the name “Isaac” and my father was able to name a son after him. In retrospect, it proved to be a good choice because Isaac, Jr. was more like my father (blonde hair, personality, and skills) than either me or my youngest brother.
My middle brother Isaac, Jr. 1944
On June 10, 1944 my brother John was born. He was named after his uncle John who was missing in combat during World War II. Ironically, after the war ending one year later Uncle John came home. My Uncle John was in a German prisoner of war camp, from which he escaped twice and was recaptured twice. After coming home from the war, Uncle John married his sweetheart, my Aunt Peggy. His first child was a boy which he named John. Thus, that is how our family came to have three “John’s” in the immediate family; Uncle John, my brother John (who we always called “John”) and Cousin John (who we call “Johnny.”)
Uncle John Tipton (on the right) in his paratropper uniform 1943
My youngest brother John, the "pet", 1945
After giving birth to three sons my Mother told my father that she wasn’t going to have eleven boys like her mother-in-law. From what I understand, just we three boys were quite a handful for Mom back in those days. I find that hard to believe but that is what she tells me. I’m going to take her word for it. Note how I keep my distance from my brothers in the picture below.
The three Tipton Boys; John, Isaac and Ronald 1948 at our Pop's favorite Packard
Growing up we had the textbook sibling relationships. I was my Mother’s favorite. Isaac, the middle child, wasn’t given as much attention. John, the youngest, was my father’s pet, which I highly resented. Since I was the oldest and the Crown Prince, I felt that I should have been given all the paternal attention. But it was not to be. Looking at old photographs now, I can tell by the body language where I stood (usually a step or two apart from my younger brothers) and where they stood.
My Mom, me and my two younger brothers at Aunt Ruth and Mary's home in Compass, PA 1950
There are many stories to tell about growing up in this typical below average middle class household. I would like to think we were step above the lower class but just on the threshold of middle class but in actuality we were almost dirt poor. Those stories I will tell in future postings.
The Terrible Tipton Boys sitting on the stoop at their apartment building at 120 Washington Avenue, Downingtown, PA with their friends Johnny Johnson and Patty Robinson (girl in back unknown)
The story I will tell you now is that I just got off the phone with my Mom a few hours ago. She is now living with my youngest brother John in South Carolina. She is 86 years old and doing well for a woman of her age. She has her aches and pains and her memory isn’t what it used to be. But she is comfortable, safe and secure. Mom took care of her “three boys” for many years. Now it is our turn to take care of our Mom.
Brother John helping our Mom out with a puzzle at his home in South Carolina 2009
Growing up my brothers and I had our differences, to say the least. It was usually me against them. Actually, I had no problem with Isaac. My problems were with John because I thought he was a spoiled brat, being the pet and all. Maybe he was. Sometimes we got into arguments that turned violent. I remember one time the three of us got into fisticuffs at the bus stop (I can still remember gravel embedded in my elbows when we were rolling around on the road trying to land a punch on each other.) As we were grappling around on the ground, the school bus pulled up. The school bus driver opened the door and let in the Stongs (the other kids who caught the bus where we caught it) and pulled off, leaving the Tipton boys to sort things out on the ground at Boot Road and Skelp Level Road. Uh oh, we knew we were in trouble then because we MISSED THE BUS! That meant we had to go home and try and explain to Mom what happened. Mom was not pleased. We got pinched real good for that misbehavior. My Mom gave up hitting us with her hands because we were too big and she always ended up hurting her hand so she gave us those twisty pinches instead.
Here I have my brother John in a headlock which is where I tried to keep him most of our childhood.
We were thankful that our only punishment was pinches. She could always call out the Big Guns and say “I’m going to tell your Father.” THAT is something we DID NOT WANT TO HEAR. She drove us to school and said “If it every happens again I’m going to tell your father!” It never happened again. As you can see Pop was a big man and we did not want to anger him. You see that belt he's wearing? Holding up his pants wasn't the only thing he used that belt for. We felt the sting of that belt more than once. Nothing like a little corporal punishment to get a rowdy, misbehaving boy's attention.
"Pop Tipton" with his namesake, Ike, Jr. 1950
This is just one of the many anecdotes of growing up with two brothers. There are many, many more. I try to keep my blog postings short and interesting but when I start recalling and telling stories about my earlier life.
There are so many of them and I hope to tell most of them before I check out.
Mom with her hands full of three young sons. She used to farm me out for a few weeks in the summer to Aunt Mary and Aunt Ruthie in Compass which was where this piture was taken in 1948
I’ll sum up this posting by saying that both of my brothers are alive and doing well. As well as one can expect of a 68, 66 and 65 year old. We all like one another. Oh, occasionally my middle brother and I have a disagreement about politics (they’re conservative, I’m liberal) but we try to stay away from that subject because I know I’m never going to change his mind nor will he change my mind.
Me and Isaac, Jr. in calmer times 1948
All I know at this time of my life is that I am so thankful to have Isaac and John and my brothers. We all like and respect each other. We have a common goal in seeing that our mother, who has done so much for us, is comfortable in her old age.
Mom doing a little afternoon reading at her new home in snow free South Carolina
My father died August 22, 2000 at 80 years of age. He and my mother were married for 60 years. My father was not a rich man. For most of his life he worked as a foreman in a trailer assembly plant. He stopped working when he was 52 years old and my Mother went to work on the frozen cake layer line at Pepperridge Farms in Downingtown, PA. My father had occasional carpentry jobs finishing houses with his friend Harry but he never earned any significant money. My Mother was the bread winner for many years.
Isaac W. Tipton, Sr., aka "Pop" sitting in front of his garage at home in East Brandywine Township, Downigntown, PA 1998
My father may not have let a lot behind in money but he left behind what I consider to be a much more valuable treasure. He left a legacy in his three sons. If I can be permitted a bit of chest thumping, I think he and my Mom did a good job of raising their three sons. In fact, I know he did. Just look at these three below. Wouldn't you be proud to call them your sons?
The Tipton Boys with their Mom 2005 Exton, PA - the only professional portrait ever taken of this family
I am proud to call Isaac and John my brothers.
John, Ike, Sr., Ike, Jr. and Me 1989 at Pop's home in East Brandywine Township, Downingtown, PA