USA, c2006, pp.337-343.)
My mother, Selma—or the more formalized Americanized form, Sarah—was the baby
of the family. She had five older siblings who quickly tagged her with the nickname
Babe, a name that stuck for the rest of her life.
I must admit that I called my mother Placenta throughout my adulthood, and believe it
or not, she would always answer, even from across a room. She was quite a character and
is the only woman I’ve ever known who donned a shower cap and a bathing suit to
defrost the freezer in the years before the automatic defrosting mechanism was invented.
Her oldest sister, my Auntie Celia, was married to a good man, according to my
mother, but he died shortly after I was born. Sam Rice and his family owned jewelry
stores in Providence, Rhode Island. Unfortunately, Auntie Celia and Sam had no
children, so she doted on my sister and me all our lives. A sweet and gentle soul, she was
the epitome of kindheartedness and always spoke to me in a soft voice. She moved to
California about the same time my family did and spent the rest of her life performing
electrolysis for the Hollywood crowd. Years later, when she suffered from an inoperable
brain tumor, she asked me for sleeping pills to end her life, but I had enough guilt in my
life at the time and knew I couldn’t live with such an additional burden. Euthanasia was
and still is illegal.
Auntie Celia’s nephew, Bob Rice, was one of the original investors in the Dunes Hotel
in Las Vegas, and that became my family’s “Vegas” connection. Bob’s son—my cousin
Jeffery Grant Rice, as he liked to be called—wrote the first “Night Stalker” television
show, which starred Darrin McGavin, and became a successful screenwriter.
Mother was close to all three of her sisters. Aunties Ida and Martha, as well as Auntie
Celia, mothered me whenever they visited. Sometimes it seemed as though I had four
mothers instructing me about manners, my posture, and what was important or not
important for women to have a satisfying
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