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Chuck Hinman: IJMA 108: My Sixteenth Birthday

Chuck Hinman's 89th Birthday is January 19, 2011

It's Just Me Again No. 108, My Sixteenth Birthday a rite of passage for author, who turned the tables on Brother Bob, who had heretofore been able to administer an annual birthday whipping
The next earlier Chuck Hinman: Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 089. Cutting wood in the winter Is Chuck Hinman your favorite Sunday with CM columnist, as many tell us? If so, we hope you'll drop him a line by email. Reader comments to CM are appreciated, as are emails directly to Mr. Hinman at:

by Chuck Hinman

This afternoon, my stroll down memory lane took me to this incident which happened over 70 years ago. I'm surprised I remember it and in detail.

My brother Bob was two years older than me and "lorded" it over me from the time I came out of Mom's womb until January 19, 1938. That was my 16th birthday, the first birthday I was able to keep Bob from administering a birthday whipping on me. The annual whippings began the moment we got out of bed on my birthday. According to Bob, it symbolized who was "the boss in the Hinman family." I had no choice but to submit after a humiliating whipping. I hated my birthday whippings and their symbolism.

But guess what happened? Between my 15th and 16th birthdays, I experienced phenomenal growth and Bob stayed about the same. I had become a man it seemed and my whining and bawling days were a thing of the past!

As usual, when I awoke on my 16th birthday, there was Bob hovering over me, asking in a taunting voice if I was ready for my annual "butt whuppin." I suspected that this may be the year when the whippings were over so I boldly said "Let's get it on" and pounced on him like an enraged tiger!

He quickly got the advantage by locking his legs around my waist and pummeling me with his fists. I was strong enough with unusual growth during the past year that I got out of bed with his legs around my waist and walked him over to the head of the stairway with his puny body suspended over the stairway. I was able to keep his flailing arms from punishing me and as his dangling body was suspended over the stairway, he soon began to analyze his predicament. I yelled at him to "SAY IT! TELL THE WORLD THAT YOUR BABY BROTHER CHUCK IS BOSS OF THE HINMAN FAMILY!"

When he hesitated, I started to untangle his legs from their grip around my waist and he would have gone tumbling down the stairway backwards. He was in what the wrestling world is called a "predicament" and he knew it. He wisely "gave up."

That was the last year of the attempted whippings of me on my birthdays by brother Bob.

A few years ago I spent the afternoon visiting Bob in The Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Wymore, Nebraska. We were both old men who had had crippling strokes, Bob having had the worst of what old age deals out. Our bodies had taken a beating but our minds were sharp as tack.

In the course of our conversation, I noticed tears welling up in Bob's eyes as he reached for my wrinkled hand and said in a sobbing voice, "Chuck, I want to apologize for all those whippings I put on you when we were kids." I knew exactly what he was talking about but was too caught up in the emotion of the moment except to grab him in a tearful embrace and mumble something like "Oh, you crazy old nut!"

My best friend and brother Bob Hinman died a few months later but the memories of our rivalries growing up on a Nebraska farm in the 1930's live on. I wouldn't trade those boyhood squabbles for anything.

R.I.P. I love you - Bob, you crazy old nut.

I was/will be 89 on January 19, 2011. Chuck Hinman

This story was posted on 2011-01-16 07:41:06
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