Karen and The Big Move, Part 6 of 10

Note: please see previous posts to catch up – they are a series that all tie together!

I will be telling you more about Karen taking credit for some of my work – which is hilarious – but first I have to pause for one of my favorite Karen stories of all. It happened around 1976 when Bill and I bought our first house on Oakwood Avenue in Lancaster Ohio.

Good grief, but this place was a wreck. And we were glad to get it. But oh what a job it was to get ready to move into.

The Daubenmire clan all came together – often under Karen’s direction – and helped us completely scrape down the walls, as well as repaint and refurbish everything to get it livable. On weekends everyone would be there with a mop bucket or a paint brush and a lot of beer.

Most weekdays, Betty would pack a cooler with sandwiches, chips and that famous diet cola “Tab” and her and I would spend hours working there. She did this without fail. And usually, during lunch time, Karen and/or her dad Bill would stop in to see how things were going. It was both exciting and exhausting.

The thing was, I was a mere 24 years old and Betty pretty much took over. I deferred to her because she bought us things we couldn’t afford ourselves and because she was a very dominant personality. I didn’t feel I had a choice. So I was kind of mealy-mouthed since I wanted to be grateful and I figured I could make changes behind her back later if I needed to.

Not Karen. The minute Karen hit the door she would challenge things… and me…

“Why are you letting Queenie make you do this or that?” she would ask.

“I really don’t mind,” I would reply.

“Well you need to get over it if you want this to be your house,” declared Karen.

But we all went along just fine and soon it was moving day. All the Daubenmire men and a few friends had gathered with trucks and muscle power to move all our worldly belongings across town. Betty was watching my 2½ year old twin sons and infant daughter at her house while the move took place.

The whole thing was a disaster. The guys had started drinking early on and paid no attention to me. They didn’t care if a box was marked “kitchen.” They just set it down wherever they felt like it and carried on with their party. Things turned into chaos.

movingEventually Karen showed up and saw what a mess I was in. She was appalled and immediately went out back to confront the moving crew. By this time they were whooping it up in the garage and I was buried in the house with boxes of stuff I couldn’t begin to organize. She let them have it. But by that time they were beyond reasoning with and responded to her rebuke by setting off some monstrously big old fire extinguisher in the alley out back. Karen knew all she could do was come back in the house and help me the best she could.

She got me going again and we began to make progress. Just when I was feeling better, Betty came breezing through the front door to have a look around. I was frozen to the spot I was standing in because I knew she would be angry. Many, many times Betty had told us her moving stories and how she was so organized that by the end of moving day the beds were made, dinner was on the table and you would never have known they hadn’t already lived in that house for 10 years. And my place was looking nothing like that.

Betty took one look around and fixed her gaze on me. I think I saw steam come out her ears. I was scared.

“Do you mean to tell me…” Betty started… and Karen promptly interrupted by saying, “Queenie!”

Betty turned and glared at Karen. “Do you mean to tell me…” she repeated, “that I have been watching three babies for days and this is all you have to show for yourselves?” Then she continued, “I’ll have you know that when I moved we…”

But she didn’t get any further. “I know, I know,” retorted Karen. “You had everything in place and curtains hung and dinner made the first day. But you didn’t have those yay-hoos out there in the garage moving you so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Betty was incensed. “I’m leaving!” she exclaimed. “Good!” said Karen. “Go home!”

I was still rooted to where I stood and totally amazed at this exchange.

Betty wheeled around on her heel and stomped out the front door. Karen followed her and locked the screen door behind her so she couldn’t come back in.

All I could think was… Oh my… things were going from bad to worse…

locked doorBetty heard the click of that lock on the screen door and flew back around and grabbed the door handle. She was locked out and she was furious.

“Unlock this door right now!” she demanded.

And to my utter amazement, Karen stood on the inside of the door and stuck out her tongue. “Nah, nah, na na na!” she cried in delight. I thought I would faint.

And as Karen taunted her, Betty jerked on the door handle and said, “if I get this door unlocked I’m gonna come in there and smack your fat face!”

“Nah, nah, na na na!” Karen repeated. “Go home, Queenie!”

I honestly did not know if to laugh or cry but Betty stormed off the porch and left. And Karen grabbed me and said “let’s get busy before those idiots in the garage do anything else we have to clean up!” And so we did.

Now this may all sound a bit shocking to someone who doesn’t know the Daubenmire family but it really was all in a day’s events for them. They were perfectly used to dealing with each other this way and there really was no harm done. Later, when a bit of time had passed, Karen and Betty both thought it was the funniest thing ever. And when I told Bill about it he didn’t blink an eye. “Oh, they do that all the time” was all he said. And I guess it was true.

Neither Betty nor Karen ever held a grudge so all was fine. And we had many a fine get-together in that Oakwood Avenue house. Everyone loved it because they had all helped clean it up and get it ready for us to live in. And they were always available to come over for a picnic or family get-together and just have a good time. Especially Karen, who was always there for support and a bit of fun. She just had her own way of doing it!

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