After our cousins’ reunion last year, I opened up a blog for possibly continuing sharing memories, dormant until now.
This entry will be posted in the comeauxclanwhitecastle.wordpress.com blog, and also in my public youreallyhadtobethere.com blog. (Apologies if anyone receives a double dose.)
To control my verbosity (where did I get that from?), I’ll just recount three of my most poignant memories, all of which are 1952 vintage, deep set in my eight-year-old persona.
- My first exposure to politics – the three-round Democratic convention, on a staticky radio.
I have described this experience in an earlier post, so I’ll save lots of words by linking to https://youreallyhadtobethere.com/2016/02/22/electoral-dysfunction/ . The highlight of that convention was the excitement of the presidential contest lasting three rounds (!!!), my most dramatic and exciting political experience to date.
To update my quasi-political thoughts from that post, I have to express disappointment that a similar crowded field of wannabees did not survive primaries long enough to force the Republican convention into additional rounds to better sculpt the party’s self-definition; and also that a reasonable third party candidate, promoting “Effective Government – Service and Restraint,” did not emerge and gain enough electoral votes to bring the decision into the Electoral College. The voting is done; the praying, not.
- My first up-close-and-personal confrontation with dying – PawPaw’s funeral.
Saving more words, I described this event and later repercussions in https://youreallyhadtobethere.com/2014/10/16/death-and-consequences/ .
- Conflicting family interests: the 1952 (?) baseball all-Star game, and the big oak tree!
My “approximate” memory at work again – the events are accurate, maybe not the date. The only other living witness to the event (my older brother) may correct the date. Back then the all-star games were day games.
The conflict was, my eight-(or whatever)-year-old persona thought the baseball all-star game was one of the most important events of the year, and was interwoven with my future employment plans. My Father, insensitively, thought family economics would improve if he and his two oldest sons were to cut down a massive oak tree blocking expansion of the sugar cane rows on his Mother’s forty acre farm. I was outvoted.
Given Daddy’s background – he had teenage experience clearing forests for levee creation with his Father – his attitude was predictable. Maybe my mopey acceptance was also.
So the gig was on. The drill was, up at farmer’s time (first light), out to the work site for a couple of hours, then back for breakfast, then to work, then to lunch, work, dinner, and take advantage of whatever light remained. The three of us took turns on the two-person giant cross-cut saw, the only time I ever used one. I don’t remember much about removing the branches – maybe Dad with hand saw and axe – but the trunk was enormous, and we drained our canteens in the July heat.
One of my least favorite all-time meals featured butter beans or black eyed peas (Cajun staples) on the menu. But they really tasted great at breakfast after two hours of labor! Possibly MawMaw’s jelly roll or peach cobbler helped my return to work.
My other memory is that after two days of this labor camp, Daddy lit the fire, and the tree burned for the next two days. I am not exaggerating the dimension of the monster tree.
I’m now doubting that 1952 is the correct date. Not sure at that age I could have wielded the cross cut saw. And I’m thinking the All-Star game was July 10, which happened in 1951 and 1956, but in ‘51 I would have been way too young, and in ‘56 I had begun to realize I was not going to be playing for the St. Louis Cardinals (parent team of the Houston Buffaloes), so maybe ’52 is correct, and the date July 8, the second day of the Republican convention, also excitement enhanced by radio static.
After several years, maybe decades, my eight-year-old-persona morphed into a mortgage-bearing, tuition-paying parent, and I came to understand family economics, and why my Father opposed the owner of the Houston Astros building his personal xanadu, the Astrodome, with public funds. My “we need this for public morale” attitude has grown up to “not on my dime!” – and the Red Sox and Patriots still thrive.
Also, over time I morphed into an appreciation for oak as my favorite furniture and tree, and at this point my more mature objection would be the elimination of such a marvelous work of nature.
A residual long term benefit from Dad’s genetic example has been discovering that one of my favorite outdoor physical activities has been a three hour gig splitting firewood, feeling especially powerful when conquering tight-ringed red oak with one mighty blow. (Okay, sometimes, ten or twelve for the resistors.) Probably because, in my technical career, the work was never done, but splitting then stacking a pile of twice-warming firewood brings an unmatched sense of satisfaction, plus extra health benefits of exercising outdoors in crisp fall air, listening rather than couch-potato’ing to an NFL game.