During the recent trip to Michigan my brothers mentioned that they would read my blog if I wrote more stories about our childhood times. Not that I crave readers, but it does seem like a good idea. Some stories can be inspirational, some can be warnings, some simply informational and some likely boring. But I do have stories, so this seems a good place to share them.
Since we just came back from Michigan, I can start in the middle, in about 1968, the times we spent in Michigan. This will cover a few posts, but I'll start with some background.
We lived in Brown City Michigan when Dad was in Viet Nam. Mom signed me up for fifth grade and then had to correct it to sixth grade after I went for the first day. I don't recall what I said, but I was probably pretty upset. That sort of thing bothered me, even then, and I'm also sure I didn't want to repeat fifth grade. Once was enough. Instead of going to school in the main building in Brown City, I went to class in Burnside, an old schoolhouse a few miles down the road. I took one bus to the main school, and then changed to a different bus to get to Burnside. That was sort of a hard year for me, in many respects.
It was hard for the entire family, Mom most of all, but we each have stories of that time in Michigan, surrounded by Mom's relatives. These are the ones I recall.I could start with a short story, a horror story for four small boys (and even in sixth grade I was pretty immature and nervous). That would be Mom's Uncle Don. Going to Uncle Don's farm scared us. Untouchable knick-knacks crowded the inside of his house. Mud covered the ground outside. Chickens ran free and mocked us. Brazen and angry geese came after us with murder in their little red eyes; we were sure they planned to eat us and they might have, since most were bigger than my youngest brother.
Uncle Don loved those geese. He told one story of the Christmas goose that he sold three years in a row. Apparently it was a record-size goose, which would have made it, oh, I don't know - as big as a Shetland pony or something. One year this guy came and bought the goose for his Christmas dinner. A week later the goose landed back in Uncle Don's farmyard, happy to be back no doubt. Maybe he ate the guy who bought him. The next year the same thing happened. I can only assume it was a different guy. Uncle Don sold the goose for the third Christmas in a row and it never came back.
Uncle Don was a big man with a barrel chest and perpetual whiskers and oak-tree arms, and he always had grease under his nails and oil on his clothes. He spoke loudly and sharply and grinned a wicked smile as he explained to us quite clearly how he would capture Santa and drown him in a rain barrel. I just shivered at the monstrous evil of it all. (He also mentioned to Mom, quite loudly, that children should be put in a rain barrel just before they are teens and fed through the hole until they were adults.)
And during the massive snow storm in 1968 that covered Michigan with a couple feet of immovable snow he came and plowed our road and our driveway with his huge snowplow so that Mom was not snowbound. We never saw him do it and he never mentioned it to anyone.
We also never saw Santa…