My Big Brother and Jenny Drumm


If you had an older brother, you can understand the miserable life I had in my early years.   My brother was seven years older and he made it his business to regale me with tales that left me not crying but downright bawling.


When we were quite young, he would drive me to tears by telling me he was going to throw my teddy bear out the window into a snow bank where a wolf would eat him up.


Later, his dire predictions took on a more realistic tone when I was enrolled in the sixth grade.  He used Jenny Drumm to send me into rages.   All the kids avoided Jenny Drumm.   She was chubby, had dirty hair and red chapped legs because she wore summer clothes all year round.   It was my fate to sit next to her so I knew she smelled too.


When my brother found out about my misery at school he began his evil program.  “Your desk is next to Jenny Drumm, that close so you’ll soon begin to look just like her.   Yes, some day you and Jenny Drumm will look just like twins,” he predicted.


When our class picture was taken on the school steps Jenny Drumm stood right next to me.  My wicked brother took one look at the photo and said he couldn’t tell which figure was Jenny Drumm or me.  At that moment I really hated the girl.


A week before Christmas the teacher announced that the class would have a gift exchange after we all drew names.   I got Margie Hall’s name and I was allowed to buy her a little gold pencil with a black ribbon on top so she could wear it around her neck.   It was an exciting day just before our holiday vacation.   All the gifts were piled up on a table near the blackboard.


Billy and Robert Tyson got to be the mailmen to pass out the presents.  When mine was put on my desk I thought the sky had fallen.   The bundle was wrapped in that white paper the butcher uses to wrap the bones for the dog.  Dirty string tied the package together and in pencil on one side were the words, “To Mary from Jenny.”  Oh-no Jenny Drumm had drawn my name!  With shaking fingers I slipped the paper off to reveal a copy of the arithmetic book we were all using.   Every kid in the class had one!


The bell rang and everyone trooped out while I sat in shock.   Then I got up and put Jenny Drumm’s book back in her desk and I threw the crumpled paper in the wastebasket.   That was the minute I realized that I really didn’t have to bawl or fight or get mad at my brother’s teasing, because I understood how awfully tough it was to be Jenny Drumm.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri