The Way It Was … By Bill Boyd


Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
The hair tickle
Anyone who has read a few of these columns knows that I grew up in Marysville with my two older sisters, Betty and Maryann. I think I have made it clear how great it was to have two older sisters. They took me places where I couldn’t go by myself, and they were always there when I needed them. I think I was a lucky kid to have grown up with those two older girls.
On the other hand, I hope I haven’t created the impression that it was always a “hugs and kisses” relationship with them. There were times, when they really liked to tease their little brother.
For instance, when I was maybe five years old, our open stairway had a pedestal perhaps five feet tall, at the bottom of the steps. They would seat me on top of that pedestal, and I thought it was great. But then they would say, “Goodbye, Bill. We are leaving now, but we will come back and get you tomorrow.” Oh man, that was scary. I was sitting there and couldn’t get down by myself.
Then, when I was in the first grade, they would tease me by saying that I had a girlfriend. There actually was a girl in my class that I thought was pretty nice. Her name was Nancy Yarrington. Boy, did my sisters tease me about her being my girlfriend.
One winter day, Nancy asked me if I wanted to play “Fox and Geese” in the snow in her yard after school. I thought that sounded like fun, so we went to her house right after school. She lived on Maple Street. We played the game in her side yard. It was really a lot of fun, but then I saw my sisters drive by in our car.
Oh man, they saw me playing with Nancy, and they would never let me forget it. Nancy’s mother called us to come inside where she had made some hot chocolate for us. I loved hot chocolate, but I couldn’t enjoy it because I knew my sisters would be teasing me about Nancy when I got home.
But I think the teasing that got under my skin the most was when I was a little older, and they would pin both of my arms to the floor. Then one of them would sit on top of me and let her hair hang down in my face. She would move her head back and forth, tickling my face in the process.
To tell the truth, they weren’t really teasing me. It was more of a “payback” for something I did. Let’s say I was bopping one of them in the head with a sofa pillow, and I wouldn’t stop. So they would grab me and give me the “hair tickle” treatment.
Oh boy, did that make me mad. I would struggle as best I could, but what chance does a little kid have against two high school girls. I think it was one of their favorite ways to let their little brother know who was boss.
I remember the last time they ever used the “hair tickle” on me. I’m not sure what I was doing to rile them. Maybe I was bopping both of them on the head with that sofa pillow again.
Anyway, they both grabbed me, and in spite of my resistance, they had me on the floor, flat on my back. Then Maryann sat on top of me and let her hair hang down in my face. She moved her head back and forth, and I really can’t tell you how much that tickled. I not only had to deal with the tickling, but also with the indignity of the whole thing.
In the middle of all this, Maryann lost her grip on my right arm. My right hand was completely free. Since no one was sitting on my legs, I managed to raise my right knee so my foot was within reach of my right hand. I was wearing a pair of slippers that I had received for Christmas, and I slipped the right one off with my hand.
I rolled my body a bit to my left, and as Maryann tried to move with me, it freed my right arm and I bopped her in the head with my slipper. She let out a yell, and then I bopped her again. Betty released her grip on my left arm, and both of them ran to the kitchen where my mother was working.
“Oh mother, make him stop. He’s hitting us with his shoe.” they said. It wasn’t my shoe, of course, it was my slipper, and how much can that hurt to get hit in the head with a slipper. At any rate, they never again tried to give me the “hair tickle.”
As I write this, my sister, Maryann, lives in Texas. We talk on the phone quite a bit, and it’s often about those early days in Marysville. One of my favorite topics is the day I bopped her with my slipper. Today she admits that it didn’t really hurt, but she knew our mother would make me stop. Big sisters can be pretty devious.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at

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