Saturday, April 25, 2015

U is for UNCLE

I should have written this post on April 24, yesterday; however, I never could get to the computer to do it. When I finish “R is for REUNIONS,” you’ll know why.

U is for UNCLE

Almost everyone I know has favorite aunts and uncles. I’m no exception as far as uncles were concerned. I loved my aunts equally, but my favorite uncle was Bud. Some of the cousins called him “Uncle Bud,” but I didn’t. He was just Bud to me.  He was the youngest of eleven children on my mother’s side. Only nine of the Kolb children were known to us cousins, and I’m not sure that Bud remembered more than eight of his siblings.

He was a handsome man, tall and dark with the Kolb blue eyes. Bud had a deep voice and the Southern accent typical of Louisiana.  I’m not sure of the kind of work he did, but he left early and came home dirty. His being dirty didn’t keep us girl cousins from running to him, begging him to take us to the picture show that evening.

Bud’s one physical flaw was his crippled leg. What I always heard was that he drank hootch or white lightning . . . moonshine . . . when he was a kid, and the result was the crippled leg, called “jake leg,” a “paralysis caused by drinking improperly distilled or contaminated liquor.” My husband says that he has heard that it was made in old car radiators that had lead in them. In any event, our handsome uncle dragged his foot with a terrible limp. I think his limp made him even dearer to us girls.

Almost every night at dinner, we had some kind of meat, vegetables, and of course, our grandmother’s delicious biscuits. Bud would tease us every night . . . “Eat up on them biscuits, gals, and leave that meat alone.” This was his way of encouraging us to eat the meat and vegetables. Then almost every night, he’d give us each a quarter and take us to the picture show. The films changed only once a week, but we didn’t care. We’d go as many times as he’d give us money. This took place in the summer of the 1940s, and there wasn’t any other recreation at night.

I’ll never forget the night that JoAnn, my next younger cousin, and I hid in the back seat of Bud’s car when he went to pick up his new girlfriend, Aileen, to go to the drive-in movie. We popped up at some point to announce our presence, but I don’t remember Aileen’s reaction. Of course, Bud knew that we were there; in fact, he probably encouraged our devilish action.

Bud had promised that he’d never marry until his mother died, and he kept his word. When he did marry, he married Aileen. I’m not sure how long after he wed that their only child, Becky, was born, but I do know that Bud died when she was just a little girl, only nine years old. She hardly remembers her dad, except for the stories that we’ve told her about Bud (whose real name was Orie and who was called Chris by his siblings because it made him mad when they called him that. It was the name of a local reprobate.). Bud was not only MY favorite uncle: he was the favorite of all of us girl Kolb cousins!

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