My brother Bob was one of the most fun loving people you’d ever want to meet and it was mainly through him that the Shane family “language” took flight. Bob died in 1973 at the young age of 45 years and I still miss his wonderful sense of humor. To give you an example, when his daughter was just a baby he thought it would be funny to put one of those suction cup toys on his forehead to shake in front of the babe. Well, it was funny all right when he had to go to work the next day with a large circular bruise right in the middle of his forehead.
There were three of us kids in the family, Pat, Bob and Sue (that’s me) and we were assigned to clean up the kitchen after dinner every night. One of us would pick up and stack the dishes, one would wash and one would dry the dishes and put them away. When it was Bob’s turn to wash and Pat’s to dry, he’d tell her to go sit down and he would call her when the dishes were ready. After a time his voice would ring out “PAT, I’M JACKING UP THE CEILING!!” So of course Pat was stuck with what had turned into a big mountain of dishes waiting to be dried instead of doing them a little bit at a time. Another thing Bob would do was when you were washing and he was drying…. if a bit of food didn’t get thoroughly washed off Bob would return the dish to you for further attention from the “washer.” BUT, when he was washing, any little smudge left on the plate was the “drier’s Job” to clean up. Of course all of this was in good humor and every night we laughed our heads off in the process of cleaning up the kitchen.
But back to the language of the Shanes. Bob had a few goofy sayings. For example if you had a problem you were told: “Tough Tobinzones!” What does this mean? I don’t have the first idea, but that didn’t stop us from using the Tough Tobinzones expression, sometimes shortened to “Tough Tobs” or “Tough Tobbies.” Go figure.
Bob had his pet names for the family. Dad was “Daid,”or “Pippa,” Mom was “Maim,” Pat was “Pit,” and I was (you guessed it) “Siz.” Bob called himself “Biber” or sometimes just plain “Bib.” When Pat went off to Girl Scout camp in 1941, Bob who was 14 at the time wrote her a letter:
And this one, complete with family pictures:
My sister and I often reflect on our “growing up” years and remember the fun times with Bob (or Biber). Oh Bob how I still miss you!
Letters are the property of Patricia Ballard, used with permission. Photograph is the property of Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls, Washington
Written for the Carnival of Genealogy, August 12, 2008, Susan J. Edminster. All rights reserved.