Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Uncles

I guess I’m officially a geek. I have been coerced into taking the whole lot of grand babies to the park while the Love Of My Life gets her run in. So I brought my laptop with me to get a little blogging in. There’s no wifi here, but I can write and then copy the text to the blog. As long as the chillen’s don’t break anything or each other all will be well.

I’ve been thinking about the Uncles lately. They were all men who stood for family and each other. As I’ve said else where, grab one and you suddenly find yourself in a dog fight. Bring help and you find yourself surrounded by the pack. Their mother considered them to be one and family members provided for each other. My dad was in the European theatre in WWII, his brother Ralph was in the Pacific. Dad was one of those people that you never want to play cards with. He may lose occasionally, all smart card players will, but he will eventually take your money. He would keep out cigarette money and starter money and send the rest of his pay home to his mother, along with his winnings.

Ralph on the other hand, was the guy who always talked trash and then couldn't’t win a hand if he was the only one playing. He was always broke. And whiny and writing to his mother that he was broke and could she send him some cash. He was in the Navy, on a warship for cats sake, where was he going to spend money? There was no liberty in war time. She didn’t know I guess.

My Dad expected to come home to a nest egg to start his life over. The egg was on his face so to speak, not in his pocket. Their mother just shrugged her shoulders and informed Dad that they were brothers and one brothers money belonged to all.

Uh, no!

It wasn’t to long after that, Dad moved away to make his way in the world. He had an eighth grade education and a strong back. The latter earned him a living. He has talked of a lot of things that he did that were scams pulled on him. He survived it all and had no reason to hang his head.

Ralph never amounted to much, he was always working at not holding a job. He would sell scrap, drive a school buss, cut mining timbers, buy and sell anything that you wanted to deal on. Most of the time he was on welfare. That was where I got to sample dried eggs and other such outdated military rations.

His house didn’t have the gable ends closed in for years after he moved in, and didn’t have running (cold) water until I was in my teens. He would never work in the mines, but always had a wild cat shaft open for house coal. He worked in Detroit in the car mines for a few months a year several times. Somehow the family would always come home to the crack in the earth where they all lived.

Except Dad, he never moved back. My mothers influence I expect.

Watson did his military time in California after the war, was offered a job, but went home instead. He worked in the mines his entire life, and almost died there. He was an electrician, certified to work on low horse miners. That would be until some one forgot to properly lock out a tractor, I think. It rolled back and pinned him between two cars. It almost squeezed his liver out of his ears like tooth paste. He hovered between life and death until the surgeons reattached his guts to their moorings. He never worked again. The last time I visited he could barely walk, but he was still smiling and still doing what had to be done.

I never met my uncle Franklin, he was killed on his second tour of duty in Korea. He fell in love with an Asian girl and re-upped to be with her. He was convinced that he would not return to the front because he had served his time there. The fickle finger of fate department, US Army division, got involved and Franklin made his last mistake. He got the last laugh though, the burial detail of GI's had to carry him to the top of the mountain to the family grave yard. I've been up that path after it was "improved" with a bulldozer, and I'm pretty sure those guys would rather do another tour on the front lines before lugging another casket up the mountain. I bet the snickers coming from the casket was enough to let the funeral party know who got the dirty end of the stick.

Uncle Arley started out as the "most likely to" whatever. Lord only knows what "it" would have been. Instead of making the best of his life he married Janie. She was the loving sort that would go out with the boys, start a fight with everyone in the house, then step back and let the uncles handle the heavy lifting.

She started it, her part of the entertainment was over.

Arley was a bootlegger, moonshiner, gambler and all around fun guy until he died. Sort of a "Johnny Cash" without the fame, money, or singing talent. He had some stories to tell and a little money to spend. As far as I know, he never hurt anyone, or did anything constructive in his entire life. He made a living and lived. Not too bad after all.

Some have done worse.

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