Gentle Reader, I am having a rotten evening, and have been suffering a fair amount of writer’s block lately. I do hope that, in lieu of a real post, you’ll accept a smattering of family snapshots, showcasing my bizarre, improbable family in all their crazy glory.
My Uncle George, though well-off beyond the dreams of avarice*, was living in a one-room shack. One day, a wild bill-collector appeared. He dashed out the backdoor, and leaped aside his trusty dirt-bike, fleeing into the woods. During the thrilling chase that followed, his bike hit an exposed tree root, sending him into a skyward spiral. On landing, he broke his neck – his cervical vertebrae. For six months, the sixty-year-old was nursed to health by his twenty-two-year-old ex-girlfriend, and at the end of it, enjoyed exquisite health.
My Great-Aunt H., the post-mistress of a tiny town in one of the Dakotas, was a firm advocate of free love – as long as one didn’t mention it in front of neighbors or children. On a visit out to Washington, to visit the relatives, she and my grandmother went out drinking, and ended up staying out until dawn with some fellows they met at the bar, going out with them to their yacht. My grandmother – far more prim than H. – enjoyed dancing the night away with her fellow, but H. and her fella retired for the evening, shall we say. It turns out that he was a pilot, and after she’d gone back home, he flew over her farm repeatedly. As she told my grandmother, she should have stuck with her prior affair – he was a priest, and knew how to keep secrets.
My Great-Grandmother, grew up in a house with a name in England, somewhere around Salisbury. She left this privileged background as a plucky young Edwardian slip of a girl to run off to Australia. After a few years that are unrecorded, she emerges, triumphant, in Melbourne, where she owned and operated a brothel. There are letters that indicate she continued running it from abroad, after she emigrated first to Canada, and then to the States, in Seattle. No one knows what became of the deed after that. My grandmother – her daughter – refused to speak of it; most of this was discovered from letters after Grandma had passed away.
My father’s spiritual beliefs were gathered from many different paths and traditions; he was a sort of western shaman. When I was a child, he and my mother took me out to the mountains, where I was baptized in a waterfall, using a ritual of his own devising.
My mother comes from what passes for the privileged classes around Gig Harbor. When she married my father, she was thrust into poverty†. When I was a child, and we were living in our own one room shack – our shower was outside, and when it rained, you’d get a mix of hot and cold water – she was forced to use her expensive antiques for their intended, rather than their decorative, purpose. This includes washboard, wringer, and cast-iron wood-fired cooking stove.
There are many, many, many, more stories, Gentle Reader, but as I said, my evening is a little rotten. I hope these vignettes have proved entertaining.
*Well, perhaps not avarice. He was still pretty wealthy. This is because he owned fishing shares, back from when they were awarded in the ’70’s.
†Well, not poverty poverty. My father’s first wife, though receiving child support for both children from their marriage§ and having gotten the house without a fight at all from my father went after my folks to have the child support raised. There was an appraisal of all of Maman’s antiques and jewelry; you can imagine how that went over.
§Yes, the woman was getting the payments for both children despite the fact that my sister was living with us at the time.