Sometimes, when I look at some of the pictures of my dad and my Uncle Bill, and think about all their antics, I find that they remind me quite a bit of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. They were always getting into trouble…oh not the kind that was really bad, just the kind that was a little bad. And of course, their favorite thing to do was to go fishing…or anything else that involved the water and no school. They were always trying some new thing…some new invention…or some new gimmick. Just like Mark Twain’s characters.
I can totally see my dad and uncle as two more characters in those novels. They would fit right in. I’m not sure the story lines would even have to be altered…except to add to more kids. Dad and Uncle Bill used to do things like setting off dynamite on Independence Day…not firecrackers…no, that was too small scale…they set off dynamite. Or they might set of dynamite on the top of the gate post…just to see what would happen. Of course, then they had to take out and reset the gate post before their mom got home from town, because she would have tanned their hides for them.
Don’t get me wrong. they had to work hard, as did their sisters, but if there was a way to get out of the work, or to find some shortcut, you can be sure that the brothers were right there. My guess is that as little boys, they were a handful for their mom. I’m quite sure that my grandmother would have done anything for her kids, but I think her boys might have been hard to reign in sometimes. But still, they were loyal to her and mostly helpful.
I guess you would have to say that they were…adventurous, and that is the part of those boys that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Their adventures are what got them into trouble, and yet, their adventurous spirit is what made you love them in spite of their crazy antics. That is the kind of boys they were. And when Uncle Bill came out here to visit my dad before his passing, you could still see the twinkle in their eyes when they talked about the things they used to do. It was pretty funny. In my mind, I could just see my grandmother, on her way home from town…wondering what her mischievous boys had been up to all day, and what messes she was going to come home to. I’m also quite sure that more often than not, she came home to some mess that needed to be cleaned up…and a couple of boys who needed a good spanking…even if they didn’t mean to make the mess. I can also see her dealing with the dilemma of should I spank them…or just laugh about the whole thing.
Yesterday, I talked about a New Years Eve tradition in our family, but the annual height measurement isn’t the only tradition we have on New Years Eve. As I said, we always have a party at my mother’s house for New Years Eve, because New Years Day is her birthday. We always move the kitchen furniture into the living room, and part of the living room furniture into Mom’s bedroom, so that the kitchen can be free of furniture, because part of the party is the dancing. A big part of the party is dancing, and the kitchen floor is the dance floor.
During the party, various people, young and old, get out there and dance. We play a variety of music, from rock to country, so everyone has the kind of music they want to dance to. Some of the cutest dances, as everyone knows, are the ones the little kids do. And, when we aren’t dancing, we are eating the delicious food that each family brings to add to the celebration, and there’s plenty of room to talk about all the good times and the many memories our family has been blessed to share with each other. The party spreads from the living room to the back yard, and even the front yard when midnight rolls around and it’s time to bring in the new year with the beating of the pans, and firecrackers…but that is another story.
And, there is one tradition that, while it doesn’t happen every year, is really cool…when we can talk him into it. My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, has the ability to do a dance that we fondly call The Rubber Knee. I would love to tell you how he does this dance, but I’m not even sure Mike knows how he does it. The Rubber Knee is an Elvis Presley type of dance move that requires the dancer to have the ability to almost dislocate his knee…not really, but it sure looks like it. And try as we might, there has never been another family member that can duplicate The Rubber Knee. It is a dance that is unique to it’s owner. Mike is a great dancer, and that particular dance will always be remembered as something that had to be done before it could really seem like New Years Eve to our family.