My sister, Diana, had a great singing voice and sang with a group of girls (4 of them) called the Universal Sisters. They were African American, white, Chinese, and one who had Brazilian ancestry (my sister) . They won a contest and had the opportunity to sing for the mayor of Salt Lake City when they were 12. I think they performed at City Hall before we moved to Roseburg, Oregon. She invested her energy, heart, and soul into music.
When the county fair would come to Roseburg, Oregon, my mom entered Diana and I in talent pageants, and we sang in these kooky outfits. We sang the song “Lolly Pop” with short skirts, bobby socks, straw hats and lollipops. The next year, we sang a song by Ricky Nelson, (“Traveling Man”) with patched jeans, various props and again our straw hats. Performing was in our genes. Diana picked up her singing voice from our great aunt Gloria Viola Standing who was a popular opera singer in New York, and I picked up mine, from my mom sashaying about the house doing housework and singing songs to Broadway musicals.
I remembered the times when Diana and I went sailing across the living room floor of our tiny duplex, belting out “My Boy Bill”, a song from Carousel, as it played on mom’s phonograph. We did stag jumps with knee bent and leg extended in the air to “Oklahoma” and acted out “Do- Re- Mi” from Sound of Music. When I was in a somber mood, I sat down quietly in the corner of my bedroom and put on “Walk On By” by Dionne Warwick. I pretended that I was losing my boyfriend and displayed deep emotions. Falling in love with Elvis (figuratively speaking), I learned to shake and shimmy like him teaching Diana his dance moves. Diana and I seemed to be inseparable living double lives with sad and happy moments bundled up in one. Smiling on the outside and living misery on the inside was hard to sustain. As we sang songs ”Moon River” and “This Land is Mine,” by Andy Williams our eyes would puddle up for reasons we couldn’t understand.
The hit “Satisfaction” by the Stones became one of our favorite songs and we shouted and stomped to “Can’t get no satisfaction” as we pounded the balls of our feet into the floor. Life got better and Diana grew up to be a song writer while I sang leisurely as I did house work. Ironically, she retired and married a man who played the guitar and looked like Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. They called their band Double Life.