Apologies and excuses not-with-standing, I feel as if I ought to post some-thing. Wishing to avoid dedicating what brain power still serves me (The hour-hand of the clock approaches the four on the face as I type this.), I shall, rather than comment on some news-piece, posting on another web-log, or matter of import, relay a couple of stories, of actions taken by my forebears, that, well, amuse the hell out of me.
I apologize in advance for my lack of certainty vis-à-vis details; the Hindle (my mother’s paternal ancestors) family tree/history is back in Indiana. My great-great-grand-father (perhaps a generation earlier, even) kept a general store in small-town Illinois. (I believe, at the time, the family resided in Brimfield, IL, a short distance north-west of Peoria.) Additional to serving as a local merchandiser, he served, I understand, as the town’s mortician. It so happened that he received a shipment of coffins on the last day of October of some year. As Great-great-uncle Merrill tells it in the family history, the delivery took place sufficiently late that my antecedent had, over-night, to leave the coffins resting upon the porch (or side-walk) fronting his store. He worried that, Halloween being the optimal night for such antics, some youths in the community would attempt to abscond with one of his caskets. “How might he defend these vessels against the perfidious jackanapeses of the town?” you ask.
Well, he opened one of the caskets (I presume that, rather than being possessed of prescience respecting which box might be taken, he wisely left them stacked, and chose, for him-self, the upper-most sarcophagus.), crawled into it, closed the lid, and waited. In due time, some of these scapegraces, either by happen-stance or by machination, ambled by the store and attempted to purloin the box wherein my progenitor lay. Permitting his abductors to haul their ill-gotten-in-good-fun booty a short distance away from the site of their caper, he began to wail and to beat upon the inner walls of his chamber, sufficiently frightening his captors to compel them to drop the box, him still with-in, and to flee for less terrifying environs.
Pivoting, presently, to patrilineal predecessors, I produce a price-less plot in which Great-uncle Frank Origer plays the primary part. In the early Nineteen-thirties, either home from Purdue for the summer, or back on the farm, prior to his establishing him-self in the Columbus, IN, vicinity, where, smart son-of-a-gun as he was, he enjoyed employment as an engineer for Cummins ’til his retirement, Frank, exercising the sort of ingenious aptitude for entertaining one-self that served those in the days prior to our hideous mass-production consumerism, particularly throughout the Great Depression, but which, to-day, with our Guitar Hero, X-Box, and d.v.r., we have, it seems, lost, startled the residents of my home-town, North Judson, some two-and-a-half miles south-east of the farm, into suspecting that that mad Austrian then in power in Berlin had let loose his Luftwaffe, re-igniting the still-warm embers lingering after the Great War.
Displaying mental prowess that leaves me approaching, but not reaching, incredulousness, Uncle Frank, having constructed a box-kite, attached there-to a couple of sticks of dynamite (used on the farm to clear additional pasture) and, some-how, kept the wick at just the right length that after he lit it and let the kite fly . . .
the damn explosion, timed perfectly, occurred over down-town. I should like to think that were Frank to commit this fascinating feat to-day, my family would have to deal with the press coverage that arises subsequent to an American citizen’s being apprehended by the
S.S. D.H.S. Had any-one other than my beloved Grandpa Joe, on multiple occasions, regaled me with this tale, I should have no problem with writing it off as mere fiction. As things stand, though, I have no doubt that Grandpa’s elder brother, Puck who he was, engaged in even more absurd, hilarious, and, doubtless, dangerous doings.
One final, brief tale: Once upon a time, the Origers, on the family farm (where, as I’ve previously noted, my grand-father still resides) had a small butchering building. During the Prohibition era, I’ve learned, this slaughter-house played host to a small facility the purpose of which was to brew inebriant beverages — honey rum, I believe –, which my grand-father’s brothers (and, perhaps, scandalously enough, Grandpa, who rarely ever drank, but who believed that pepper-mint schnapps made for the best cold remedy, too) served — in moderation, I’m sure — to friends and acquaintances who danced away the occasional night in the garage on the farm. Great-Grandpa Joh(a)n noticed some-thing peculiar, one day, upon entering the slaughter-house. As far as I know, he made no attempt to dis-suade his sons from their black-market booze-brewing. Of course, he’s also the man who swore his political allegiance to the Republican Party because they, and not the Democrats, first offered beer and sandwiches to him, a young vegetable-farm-worker in Chicago-land.
You can’t pick who comprise your family, but you sure can hope to emulate them.
Filed under: Alcohol, America, Entertainment, Family, Self-reference | Tagged: Alliteration, box kite, Brimfield, casket, coffin, explosion, Family, Great Depression, Hindle, Moonshine, Origer | 1 Comment »