Growing up can be really difficult when you are overweight or not really good at sports or dancing. I hope that you will learn by reading my stories that you can be anything that you want to be and no one can stop you from reaching your goals and dreams. Not everyone is born athletic, beautiful, thin and a genius. But, every one of you is smart or excellent in something whether it is drawing, jump rope or even running track, it does not matter. Who you are makes you special. I hope that you enjoy reading about Bertha and Tillie and learn that there is a little bit of Bertha in everyone.
Bertha and Tillie Forever
By Fran Lewis
Growing up, my sister and I had fun doing many things together. But, like all sisters, we had our moments. I have included some funny stories that really did happen to the real Bertha and Tillie. These are dedicated to my sister Marcia Wallach, my best friend and co-conspirator in everything we ever did and got away with. I miss you more than words can say. Frani
We grew up as Marcia and Fran. My sister was thin, had brown hair that she complained frizzed all the time, and could sing and dance better than most stars on Broadway. These are true stories. My sister was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She always brought out the best in everyone and she never frowned. She had a sunny personality and a wonderful mind. No matter what the situation was she managed to figure out what do. Sometimes the solutions were great and at other times comical. Here are some funny stories that Marcia/Tillie and Bertha/Fran would love to share with you.
Family Day: Finally Bertha’s Choice
First there were dancing lessons, and next ice skating lessons. These were followed by violin and piano lessons. What was going to be next? The next torture my mom and my sister Tillie had in store for me was roller skating lessons! Is there no justice in the world? Why was it that everything I did had to be related to weight loss and exercise? Why couldn’t we do something on the weekend that required using your intelligence and thinking skills? Why couldn’t we do something that everyone in the family wanted to do, and not just my sister Tillie?
I really did not have the answer to any of these questions, but I could try to change their minds by reminding everyone of what happened when I went ice-skating in Rockefeller Center. I tried really hard to skate and kept falling on top of my instructor, who solved the problem by giving my dad his money back for the entire lesson. Did they really think that I would do better at roller skating? I didn’t think so.
We started out for the roller rink on Kingsbridge Avenue in the Bronx when I had a brilliant idea. Why didn’t we get tickets to watch the New York Chiefs and the Boston Bombers in the roller derby instead of going roller skating? My sister thought this was an awful idea because she thought roller derby was boring and too violent. I loved it. I was not a great skater, I did not want to take roller skating lessons and have the same embarrassing incident I did when I went ice skating. One disaster should be enough for anyone. But, Tillie, the sports oriented and more coordinated of the two of us, got an A on her Spanish test and she won. Poor me, I got an A on all of my tests that week, yet once again I was forced to go along with the majority. But, I was not going down quietly this time.
When we arrived at the roller rink I saw my cousin Annie and her father Harry there. Annie did not like to roller skate and my uncle loved roller derby almost as much as I did. I asked my parents if I could go watch the skaters in the roller derby instead of skating myself, but they said they did not want Tillie to take lessons all alone. They felt that we should always do family things on family day together. How unfair was that! Family day was supposed to be for everyone, not just one person.
I went over to the desk to get my skates and they gave me a pair of size fives to fit my flat feet. I put them on and attached the skate part with the skate key, and tried to stand on them by myself before meeting my instructor. This time I was determined not to be embarrassed and not to fall on my rear end in front of everyone in the rink. I was finally able to balance myself by holding on to the beginners bar on the side of the rink. I tried to walk in the skates and did not fall. I tried to glide and fell right on my face and heard a loud rip. Not again, oh please not again!
I was wearing my brand new black bell-bottom pants and a great black and white shirt that I just bought with my own money at Helds on Tremont Avenue. I could not believe that this happened again. I felt a draft coming from behind me and knew that I had split my pants. They were not too tight on me, but when I fell I must have fallen on something sharp on the ground near the side of the rink, and whatever it was ripped my pants. I was so disgusted. Why couldn’t they just let me go to the roller derby where I would enjoy myself?
Well, low and behold, just like in bowling my mom, Rosie, thought that she would come to the rescue with another one of her fix its. She had a large sweater with her in case she got cold and she said it was long enough to cover the rip in my pants. I told her that I did not want to take the lesson with a rip in my pants and that I was afraid they would rip more. There was a sports store in the skating rink, so she bought me a pair of sweat pants that I could change into for my lesson. Now, I looked like a big black panda bear with my black pants and my black and white shirt and the awful sweater that had white fur on it. I looked stupid.
My instructor was a young guy who took one look at me and was about to laugh at my outfit when I shot him a look. I took off the sweater and felt that I did not look that bad, but not great. His name was John and he told me that he could teach anyone to roller skate and he wanted to get started. My dad had paid for an hour’s lesson and he wanted to make sure that he got his money’s worth. HA HA! FAT CHANCE!
John tried showing me how to stand properly on the skates and how to move my feet from side to side. That did not work. The only thing I could do was ask to hold on to both of his hands and try and not fall on top of this poor man like I did when I took my ice skating lessons. But, this guy was really mean and said that he would never want anyone my size to fall on top of him, and tried helping me over to the railing to hold on. But, as luck would have it, as I tried my best to get there I fell on my side, split my pants that were already too tight and crawled to the seats behind the rink. I took off the skates, threw them at the man at the desk and walked out into the hallway never to return again.
I guess that’s not exactly the grown up thing to do but I was totally embarrassed. Kids were laughing at me, including everyone I came with except my sister, Tillie, would not let anyone hurt my feelings. When she saw what happened she came out trying to make me feel better and said the next time she would help me. There was never going to be a next time. But, something good did happen. We were in the rink in the armory and I love roller derby, but I never expected some of my favorite team players on the New York Chiefs to come and practice there. When Gerry Murray and some others came over to me I had no idea that they saw what happened and the way the instructor treated me. Along with them came the manager of the rink, and he made the instructor not only apologize to me for hurting my feelings and not helping me skate, but he said that he would give me ten free lessons too, which I gave to my sister. I took the free tickets to the next five roller derby Matches. So, family day turned out to not so bad after all.
Adults can be mean and so can kids. Not everyone is sports oriented, but some of us try harder than others. Some of us realize our limitations and work from there. I am Bertha. I am smart in school. I play the first violin in the orchestra and I play the piano. My sister can dance, sing, entertain and stars in Broadway shows. She is really amazing. This is Bertha: whatever your talent might be, go for it! You never know!
Bertha and Tillie
For more about Fran Lewis, visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fran.lewis1?fref=ts
At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fran-Lewis/e/B002F8Z87U/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1349467261&sr=1-2-ent
Bertha & Tillie Forever: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bertha-and-tillie-forever-fran-lewis/1112591418?ean=9781604145939