The three Wells Sisters were very lucky to be born to our parents. Virginia Mandracia and Robert Wells were great people. They created a safe, secure, comfortable world for us. We grew up knowing that we were loved.

I guess I first realized how lucky we were when I heard stories from my school friends about their parents. In the 1940s and '50s, it was not common for kids to complain about their parents. Most of the time, my friends just hinted at their home life.

One of my friends told me that she envied us because we had such a "cool" mom. Our mother would let us roller skate in the kitchen. She also made work seem like fun. She could create an instant game out of putting our toys away. She made us an "egg in the hole" for breakfast and encouraged us to throw the dishes to each other as we washed and dried after a meal.

Our dad was a hard worker who seldom found time to hang out at home. The only day he didn't work was Sunday. He enjoyed sitting on the front porch, watching the neighborhood and enjoying a glass of whiskey. He also loved horse racing. He took us to Delaware Park often. We used to pack a picnic and eat on a blanket right near the horse stalls.

When I think about growing up in Mauch Chunk, (now Jim Thorpe), my memories are filled with my parents, my sisters and our home. Those memories always get me thinking about other families and how they live.

My English teacher background and my constant reading took me into other families via the printed page. I clearly remember the first time I read "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. I fell in love with Marmee (a single mother raising a family of girls) because she was so loving and encouraging. I wanted to be Jo.

In the Nancy Drew series, Nancy's father, Carson Drew, was a wonderful dad. He supported his daughter in her unusual hobby of detecting. He never made fun of her.

The Cuthberts in "Anne of Green Gables" were also exemplary parents, as was Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird." The chapter where he tries to explain to Scout why he took on the defense of a Negro is a life-altering passage. And Alex and Kate Murry from "A Wrinkle in Time" make parenting seem a snap.

Remembering these literary families also brought to mind some of the TV and movie families I have come to love. I suppose Claire and Dr. Huxtable from the Bill Cosby Show are the epitome. They combined a sense of humor with down-to-earth parenting. Having a smile on your face while dealing with children is a wonderful trait to have.

How about Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth from "Cheaper by the Dozen?" Watching Clifton Webb getting flummoxed by his 12 kids is a joy. I know that Steve Martin does his best in the remake movies, but Clifton is my choice.

I love the Quimbys from the "Ramona" series, Mr. and Mrs. Little (who adopt Stuart the mouse), and the Ingalls from "Little House on the Prairie."

But recently I developed a new favorite set of parents the Weasleys from the Harry Potter series. Those two have to be the strangest, most spontaneous, most welcoming mother and father in literature. Reading about them gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Virginia Mandracia and Robert Wells didn't use magic wands in their parenting book of tricks. They did it the human way with love, support and understanding. We are so much the better for that.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: or in care of this newspaper.