My Sister

My Sister – Constance Ann Regel

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Connie and our dad

My sister, Connie, was born in 1943 in New Jersey two years after my parents married and three years before me. My parents were thrilled with their beautiful little girl. All the old photos I have of them show them looking very happy. Seems that Connie was always smiling too. I’m sure times were hard during those war years, but fortunately our father was exempt from going to war. By the time I was born in 1946 the war was over and there was a post-war boom. During those first 5 years of Connie’s life, they moved four times from Bloomfield, NJ to Nutley, NJ to Verona NJ, and then back to Bloomfield.

Connie and Carol having a tea party with our dolls

Connie was my big sister that I followed everywhere. We were often dressed in matching clothes and I wore all her hand-me-downs. We played endlessly with our dolls and our dog, Daisy. In the summertime we sold lemonade at the golf course, conveniently located adjacent to our back yard. In the wintertime we made snow forts and went sledding in the same golf course. We had such fun there. The neighborhood had lots of children our ages to play with also.

Connie and Carol in their scouting uniforms

Connie was 9 years old when we moved to CA. She walked me to my first day of school there and made sure I knew where to go. During those early years I was her shadow following here everywhere. I wanted to do everything she did. Lucky for me she seemed to accept that job of “big sister”. If she rode her bike, I wanted to ride mine, if she walked on stilts, I wanted to do the same. If she roller skated, I did too. Same with ice skating. We both did scouting and competed for badges. We continued to play with our dolls and she made me a large collection of doll clothes that I loved. We played lots of games together like Scrabble and Go To The Head of the Class. She developed a love for horses, so I did too.

Connie and Carol on a date

By the time we got to High School and dating, my parents sent me along as “chaperone”. Connie was nice enough to fix me up with a date, but I was far too young to enjoy boys at that time. While Connie would enjoy “necking” in the front seat, I’d be in agony with some boy in the back seat. I can’t believe we didn’t say NO to this arrangement. I was extremely shy, so Connie took the lead and helped me explore our world.

Connie in front of her 1st place window painting at age 11

When Connie left for college at UCLA I was left alone for the first time in my life. I missed her terribly. She invited me to come visit and stay in her dorm a few times which was very exciting. At some point she left college and enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. She was a wonderful artist and I admired her talent greatly. Again I wanted to do what she did and paint pictures, but my parents directed my talents to music instead.

Connie's children - Jesse, Riley and Holly

By 1963 Connie married Bob Baxter and moved to Topanga Canyon, CA and over the next 7 years they had three children, Jesse, Riley, and Holly. She also was raising dogs, Afghan Hounds and Basset Hounds. I visited her as often as I could, but I was then in college myself at UCSB studying music. Connie was able to use her artistic talents to help publish books with Bob. All three of her children are very talented artists as well as having musical talents which they got from their parents.

Connie with her kids in Las Vegas

In 1972 Connie and Bob divorced and she moved to Las Vegas, NV where she found employment in the many casinos there as a dealer. Over the course of the next 30 years Connie and I didn’t see a lot of each other. We were each very busy raising our kids and following our passions. During those years she became a rodeo photographer, a race car driver, Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiast, an antique dealer, a dog breeder, a deer hunter, a race horse owner, a snake collector and a casino decorator to name just a few of her many talents. There’s not much she couldn’t do.

Connie and I have always had an amazing telepathy. Like when I got married in 1966 and she showed up wearing the exact same outfit I had chosen as my “going away” outfit. And in 1973 when our father died, we “coincidentally” met up on the same bus on our way to their home in CA for the funeral.

Connie in front of her store at the resort

Then in 2002 when we moved our mom to Coos Bay, OR near where I was living at the time, Connie moved to Merlin, OR to be closer. There she renovated a mobile home park and market which she tirelessly ran for the next 12 years. During those very busy years we saw each other more often, but Connie was still tied down running the resort and unable to travel much or pursue her many other interests.

Connie and me at a dog show

Finally in 2016 she sold the resort and moved to Grants Pass, OR where she could get back into the world of dog shows and dog breeding. She invited me along in her giant RV to see her show the basset hounds. We had so much fun together, that I once again decided to follow her lead, training and showing my golden retriever in Rally competition. Until 2020, we enjoyed attending many dog shows together winning top ribbons.

Connie's 1st Children's Book

Once the pandemic hit, she turned her energies to writing and illustrating children’s books. Again we have been able to collaborate our talents and I developed a website to accompany her books.
At the same time she has continued with her business of selling antiques via Etsy and has an active clientele.

Connie and me having fun

Connie has continued to be my best friend through the years. We share so much and I have always looked up to her as my wonderful “Big Sister”. I am so happy to have her in my life and am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the two of us.