I can remember from when I was a kid two stories my family told about the uncle I was named after. The uncle I was named after was my grandmother’s brother. He was already an old bachelor when I was born and he was Fdad’s boss. He owned a large farm in Arkansas and once WWII was over and Fdad got out of the navy, he moved Fmom and my oldest sister to Arkansas to work for my uncle. Uncle N had a large wood frame house and his sister and her husband, Aunt H and Uncle D, lived with him. Uncle D had some serious health problems that kept him from working and Aunt H took care of both Uncle D and Uncle N.
By the time I was born and growing up to around eight or nine, we lived about a quarter of a mile from Uncle N’s house. By that time there were four of us children, my two oldest sisters and my older brother. Since we only got to see my grandparents once or twice a year, my two great uncles and great aunt were more like our quasi-grandparents. Uncle L was more of a stricter grandparent type while Uncle D and Aunt H were the spoil them rotten types.
We lived on the farm way back from anything. We had to drive around 8 or 9 miles to get to a paved road and then the nearest town (pop. 48) was another 8 miles. The nearest city to us was around 32 miles away. It had a population of 8000-9000.
The first story is about the time Uncle N was driving to the city. There was an old metal bridge going over a river that was about half way to the city. It was a narrow bridge where when two cars met on the bridge they would slow down so as not to hit each other or the side of the bridge. Well Uncle N had driven onto the bridge and was about half way over when a big semi trailer truck came onto the bridge also. Obviously neither one could get pass the other and Uncle N just sat there. The trucker got out and started yelling at Uncle N that he had to back up so he could get by. Uncle N told him he was on the bridge first and the trucker would have to back up. The trucker kept yelling at Uncle N and Uncle N got mad. He grabbed his keys out of the car and told the trucker if he wanted the care moved, then he would have to move it. He then proceeded to throw his keys into the river. From the way the story goes traffic backed up, the state police show up and finally a wrecker shows up and moves Uncle N’s car. Fmom told me Uncle N was mad for weeks about it because he thought the wrecker should have moved the truck.
The second short story about the time Uncle N and Uncle D went down to Florida to visit relatives. The part of the story I never understood is how when they were getting ready to come home, something happened to both of their glasses. I don’t know if they lost them, broke them or what, but they had to drive back to Arkansas without their glasses. Fmom told me that all the way back Uncle N who was driving would watch ahead and make sure he didn’t go over the lines in the middle of the highway. Uncle D would watch on the right and make sure Uncle N didn’t get to close to going off the road. Now I don’t know if this story is true, but from remembering Uncle N and Uncle D, I wouldn’t put anything like this past them.
Although I loved both uncles and aunt, I never did get to know them as well as I wanted to. By the time I was old enough to appreciate them, Aunt H and Uncle D moved to Florida to live with their children. Uncle N made Fdad the foreman for his farm and we moved to a different house about 7 miles away from Uncle N’s house. About a year after we moved to the new house Uncle N passed away from a heart attack. I was told the night he passed, he was leaving a poker game and pulled his car over to the side of a dirt road he was on. The people who found him said it looked like he was trying to get his bottle of nitroglycerin pills out of his pocket.
It’s funny how when you’re young you don’t have the time or interest to get to know the older people in your family. Just as now I feel lucky to have had time to be around Fmom these past years and listen to her stories of years gone by, I wish I had been old enough and patient enough to listen to my uncles and aunt. I wish that since they played such an important part in my early life, that I had gotten to know the people they were.