Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Uncles

I had the pleasure to grow up with a grand gaggle of goobers who understood that boys will be boys. There were a group of them, all about a year or so apart, all of them as good to children as a Santa convention. All of them about as mean as they come, if you cross the family. That doesn't mean that if you did a bad thing and got your little fanny whipped, they wouldn't give you a stripe or two for stupidity, Oh! Yes indeed!

The lot of them would fight like cats and dogs among themselves, until you crossed the line and put your nose where it didn't belong, then they close ranks and turn on you. Later, when you were clutching your nose you would remember to not do that again. My Daddy truly hated a bully. By his own account he had fought until he thought his clothes would fall off, to defend what he thought was right.

I learned a lot from that crew.

Don't start something you can't finish.
You can get mad, but you don't have to stay mad.
Just cause I'm whippin' your butt, doesn't mean I don't love you.
If you got food, shelter, and family, you got a lot.
Family sticks together, even if it's dried blood providing the adhesive.
Stand up for right.

I saw a scar on daddy's arm once and asked him where he got it, his reply was that his brother had thrown a kitchen knife at his head and he had to block with his arm. Then we looked at a few more. "This one a brother tried to cut a finger off with an ax." Why? "I asked. "Because I put it on the chop block and told him he didn't have the guts." Bad choice, he did have the guts. I believe there was one resulting from a rock with significant velocity, on the forehead. He didn't mention all the little nicks and scratches he gifted to the others.

Daddy said on weekends they would hitch to the nearest town and go to the movies, or just to town, where there were other people. Many nights, according to him, he would be walking down the street and hear something down an alley. He would slip through the dark and start applying a slap jack to unobservant types until he pulled a brother from under a pile. You see no one would take them on in a fair fight. They were all men and only feared God and their mother. I was afraid of her too.

With this lot, walk in and ask for a gun, and they hook a thumb at the one by the front door and tell you to be careful. After that if you shoot your self, when they find out about it, you are really in trouble. They expected you to act with a little sense and you did, so they wouldn't look at you "that way". We all know "that way", it says "How am I going to tell your mother?", and nobody wants that!

Daddy was raised in the mountains in the late Twenties to early Thirty's when there was nothing there, or at least way less than now. When he was about ten, he found a twenty dollar bill on the main road, actually the only road, and bought enough groceries to feed the whole clan for two weeks and still had enough money to go to the movies every night. Why every night escapes me because I am reasonably sure there was only one movie and it didn't change every week.

His oldest brother was living "up the holler" with the family of his girl friend, and being brothers and all, felt it was perfectly alright to come down to daddy's house and haul all the food to their house. Bad idea, hacked daddy off. When the girl in question walked by, daddy was a little ill, and bounced a rock off her head. She, understandably upset, ran home and tattled. Older brother came down to avenge her lump. Daddy was chopping splinters to start fires in the kitchen stove, with a razor sharp double bitted ax. The discussion progressed rapidly on to fists, feet, firewood, tripping, choking, and finally to the ax.

Daddy came up with the ax and his brother being quick on the uptake made a rapid retreat. That means he ran like the Devil was chasing him, cause the look in daddy's eyes told him there wasn't much difference. I've seen that look, running is the only reasonable thing to do, because BAD THINGS are about to commence. Daddy being the short one couldn't catch up, so he threw the ax. The older brother was just a little out of range. He was looking back and reversed to grab the ax. Not quick enough, daddy got there first, another reverse, short chase, another throw, and so on until the older brother got there at the same time and tackled daddy. Now when you are older, heavier, and stronger there is an advantage. They were soon on the ground with older brother choking daddy, and pounding his head on the ground. Daddy was getting tired of the exercise and felt around on the ground until he found a flat rock, and applied it to brothers head. Game over. It's a good thing they were too tired to party by then or someone would surely have gotten hurt.


Remember they were brothers, and hard as it is to understand considering the foregoing, they really loved each other, and we like to think would have stopped short of anything permanent. I hope.

No comments: