FC: Remembering Roberta by Jeri Weiser
1: 1950 - 2010
2: Roberta was 7 years old when I came to be her little sister. The year was 1957. What must she have thought after all that time as the only child? Probably equal parts of excitement and annoyance. As we grew older she became my babysitter and my friend.
3: Christmas 1957 Above (L to R): Roberta and Jeri, and Jimmy, Gary, and Kathy Kastenholtz
4: Roberta used to tell the story of an evening when our mom went next door to visit her neighbor Flo. Roberta was old enough to watch me for short periods of time. I was old enough to know how to shut doors, but not how to open them. She decided we would play hide and seek. Roberta hid in the hallway closet with the door slightly ajar. I came by, saw the open door, and closed it. That old closet door had a door knob only on the outside. In spite of her desperate instructions from inside the closet, I was unable to understand and open the door. Ma came home to me crying loudly on the living room couch and Roberta yelling for release from inside the closet.
5: Jeri and Roberta with "Jody"
6: When Roberta was old enough, she babysat me during the summer when she didn’t have school and our parents were working. It wasn’t too hard. The neighbor girls, Carol and Nancy, were close to our ages and their mom, Pauline, was home full-time. But, it wasn’t always easy, either. One summer I had got very sunburned. It had put me in a foul mood. Roberta, in trying to tease me into a smile, told me that I looked like a red beet with pigtails. I went into a rage and nothing she did calmed me. She finally had to call Pauline to quell my tantrum.
7: Me and Roberta in dresses I think our mom made.
8: Roberta had a sense of fun. It wasn’t wild and crazy, it was more unique and infectious. She thought it was great fun to scare me at every opportunity. In our house on Pennsylvania Avenue, a hallway from the living room led to two bedrooms and the bathroom. There was a small space just past the entrance to the hallway that a person could flatten themselves into and not be seen by someone entering the hallway. Roberta used that on me a lot. I don’t mean many times. I mean for years. After a while, she didn’t even have to yell “Boo!”, she could just whisper it. One summer, my dad had a week of vacation. During such weeks, he would often tackle a project around the house. This particular time, he was painting one of the bedrooms. He was in the bedroom, behind the door, on a ladder painting. He had the radio on. Roberta was in her favorite hiding place in the hallway. I was coming through to put away some towels I had folded. It went like this: “Boo!” Roberta hissed. “AHHHHH!!!!” I yelled. “Jesus CHRIST!!” Dad yelled as something clattered to the floor. Apparently we had startled him as well.
10: Like most teens, Roberta loved popular music. She had stacks of 45s and played them over and over. Her choice of music certainly influenced my own. We were a Motown household. The Supremes, The Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, James Brown. | Roberta also loved Elvis. She took me to see his movies whenever a new one came out. The first one that I remember was It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963). She bought the sound track to each movie and played and played them. To this day, I can identify most Elvis movies just by hearing one song.
11: Roberta’s first car was a big deal. I think it was a red Dodge Dart – a pretty snappy car for its day. She drove me and Nancy all over town in that car. Shopping, late night runs to McDonalds and the Nite Owl Drive In, and just general goofing around. We nicknamed it The Red Dent for all of the mishaps she had – not all of them her fault.
12: We were sisters that married brothers. I married first in 1978 and a couple years later Roberta married Tom. Mom and Dad were thrilled on two counts: Roberta had married a great guy and they had instant grandchildren in Beth and Fred. The birth of their third grandson, Nick, rounded out the family.
13: Roberta shares a piece of her wedding cake with Dad. Roberta and Tom at Nick's baptism.
14: Roberta had a talent for interior design. She could look at an empty room and tell you what furniture would look great and how it should be arranged. | She could look at a room full of furniture and suggest a change, a window treatment, or a fabric that would pull it all together. She got her first opportunity to put her talents to work designing her own space in the duplex on Livingston Lane, which was a joint venture between her and Tom and our mom and dad.
15: Roberta loved Christmas – the decorating, the baking, and the shopping. One year, during deer hunting, she drove up from Milwaukee so that she and I could go Christmas shopping in Burnsville. | Talk about shop ‘til you drop! We shopped all day, making several trips to the car to stow our purchases. We had a great time and I got all my shopping done in that one trip. | Mostly she loved seeing the excitement of her kids as they opened the presents she’d bought for them.
16: Roberta, me, and Mom at Michael's 50th birthday party (1992)
17: When Michael and I married, we gathered together once again. (L to R): Evelyn, Mom, Pauline, Jeri, Nancy, Roberta, and Nick (1993)
18: Mom, me and Roberta at the party for my college graduation (1999)
19: We are changed to some degree by all of the people that come and go in our lives. But, we are most profoundly influenced by those who have loved us. So it is that they live on in us.