Monday, February 27, 2012

My Darling Brother part 2

Lest you get the wrong idea from my last post about my brother, he didn't always torment me (just most of the time that my memory allows). We had a lot of good times and he was a pretty good teacher too (although a lot of it was not as he intended).  I learned at an early age that not everything I learned from him was kosher and would study up on things that interested me to get it right.  John had his own way of playing games that usually deviated from the way they were intended to be played.  Like the game of chess, he had most of the moves of the pieces right, but not quite all of them.  And card games were always a chancy thing, when the rules may change at anytime it was convenient for him.  But as we got older hunting became his passion, and of course fishing, but that was something to do when you couldn't go hunting.

Frog hunting probably started it all.  Since we lived very close to a gravel pit with ponds and a small cedar swamp, frogs were an easy target.  Stones, clubs, slingshots, spears, homemade bows and arrows, all of these and more were utilized in our endeavors.  We learned how to master all of these weapons and the techniques in making and using them. Then we graduated to real bows and BB guns. And finally .22 caliber single shot rifles, maybe not as sporting, but just as fun.  And the whole family developed a taste for fried frog legs.

Then at the age of twelve, John got a single shot 12 gauge shotgun and a whole new world in hunting opened up to us.  Yes I said US.  You see my poor brother had a very heavy disadvantage.....ME !!
He had to cart me around with him like a shadow...Mom's orders!!  From the beginning he never had a chance to get away from me.  So I can understand why I was a target for his angst. I also became his pack mule and hunting dog.  And to his friends his "stupid little brother".

But what none of them realized was that stupid little brother was learning greatly from them and their mistakes.  You see my passion was knowledge.  While John and his friends were jocks, I was the nerd.
Always reading and studying subjects that interested me.  I wanted to know how and why everything worked and adapted my knowledge into perfecting it's use.

So when my brother and his friends Larry and Tony would borrow the Boy Scouts .22's, I got the one that didn't have any sights as a joke.  Well it's very hard to hit anything that way but not impossible.  I practiced and practiced with that darn gun until I did learn how to shoot it.  I worked like mad to earn enough money to buy ammo for it and spent every spare moment shooting.  Before long I had perfected looking down the side of the barrel and gauging my shots until I was about as good a shot as they were with sights at close range.  (I eventually bought that gun from the Boy Scouts and purchased sights for it.   It's still in my collection and in use.)

Later in life I again got to learn from my big brother.  About 20 years ago he had a heart attack.  Not realizing the symptoms he waited too long in seeking medical attention and suffered permanent damage to his heart from clogged arteries.  Two years later when I had similar symptoms I almost followed in his footsteps.
But I remembered he had pain across his shoulders and was not feeling quite right, could I be suffering the same?  Luckily I decided to admit it might be and went to the ER.  Yup, clogged arteries to the heart muscle, I was in the middle of a heart attack.  I ended up without permanent damage thanks to my Big Brother. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Repressed Memories

I woke up the other night frightened and confused.  I had the "The Dream" again.  I tried to shake it off and returned to sleep only to be caught up in it again and again.  Finally I dragged my tired butt out of bed and gave up on the idea of sleep.  I usually don't dwell on this dream and have told only three people about it in all of my life.  It is not the kind of dream you want to share. But it has been nagging me for days and I think it is time to share.  Yesterday was my wife's turn to hear about it.  Today it is your turn.

When I was a wee lad about 5 years of age we had moved to Illinois.  Jobs were in short supply here and things were booming there.  We lived in a trailer park close to my mother's sister and her family and my dad's brother and his family followed us there.   I remember a black family lived in the trailer park too and I used to play with their older daughter and two sons about my age.  My dad worked in a local foundry with the man and they became friends.

One morning I went over to their house to play.  I knocked on the door and heard a voice from inside, but it didn't sound right.  Cautiously I opened the door and said "Hello".  At first I heard nothing, but then the groans started.  I stepped in and looked around the darkened home.  The curtains were still drawn and no lights were on.  I could make out the red and black checkered sofa and the red chair by the door.  I had to step around the chair to see down the hall where the noises were coming from.  I could hear more groans and things falling over.   Suddenly the father appeared in the hallway.  He was wearing a white tee shirt that was covered with blood and held a knife in his hand.  He was stumbling towards me saying "GET THE ______ OUT"!!! 

I must have run home and told my dad as my next memory is of him and my uncle entering the house and my uncle hollering at me to go home.

This is usually where I wake up. Very frightened, shaking all over, and confused about what is going on.

The dream doesn't come often, but the vividness and the feelings are as horrifying today as they have been all of my life.  Sometimes many years pass between episodes, but they are always the same.

About seventeen years ago I had one.  It was shortly after my mother died and I had been talking to my dad a lot about the early years of our family life as I had gotten back in to my genealogy project.  I asked him about the black family in my dream.  He got a far away look in his eyes and quietly  said, " remember that do you". He then hung his head and in a voice barely a whisper said, "A man has no right to do that to his family".

After a long pause I hurriedly changed the subject.  My dad had been through enough lately and I really hadn't meant to stir up bad memories, but I had to know if the dream was real.  For the past few days I have been haunted by this dream and am on the verge of investigating it further.  With the internet it shouldn't be too hard to look up old newspapers.  But still something holds me back.  It has been so long since the last time I have been this concerned about the dream.  I am no longer sure if my memories are true of if it is just my over active imagination. Do I really want to know?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Four Sailors

Winter's second BIG snow storm hit us Friday night and left us with about 6 inches of snow.  Hey, this winter has been so mild it's scary.  Today it's melting fast with 40 degree temps and sunshine.  This has been about the longest stretch we've had snow on the ground this year.  Anyway between the snow and the mud not much has been happening on the farm.  Feeding animals and feeding the wood stove are our only activities other than playing games on the computer and watching TV.  We are finally over our six week long illnesses and beginning to think SPRING.  Three of our doe rabbits were bred last month and we are waiting for bunnies to arrive Sunday and Tuesday.  At the end of the month the hen turkey should start hatching out the Guinea eggs we put under her after her clutch failed to produce.  The Guinea hens are still laying eggs and have about a dozen in the nest but no one is sitting on them. The goaty girls are getting bored with being shut in and not having anything left to browse on outside.  So I haven't had much to blog about. So I will just have to post these photos of 4 generations wearing the same sailor suit.

My Dad in 1946

Me about 10 years later after Grandma cut down the suit.

My son about 1983.

His son in 2010

It is amazing that it is still in the family. With all of the moves that we made, Mom had my aunt store it in her basement. After we moved back to Cass City permanently she kept asking for it back, but there was always some excuse for not getting it. When I stayed with them to help my uncle paint the house, I had orders to find it from Mom. But it was an impossible task as there was tons of stuff to sort through. Finally just before my aunt died she returned it. After my son was born I asked Mom for it to have his picture taken in it for Dad for Fathers Day. I was then told to keep it. I was also given my dads last remaining jumper (uniform top or shirt whichever you want to call it). I had my daughters husband wear it for a photo once. The original hat that I was wearing in the photo was not returned until way after my son's picture was taken. My aunt's son  found it when he was cleaning the basement. The white hat that my son wore was just something I bought for the photo. The medal on the uniform in my son's photo is my Dad's WWII Victory Medal.  I think that it is about time I pass this sailor suit along to my son for his son.