Family pictures are always a trial. It really doesn’t matter how big the kids are either. When my husband, Bob was a kid, he was very much a cut up. He liked to get everyone laughing and basically keep the situation a little off center. Of course, his mother really didn’t appreciate that much, and it was even worse, when Bob got Brenda laughing. Brenda found many things that her big brother did to be quite funny, and had a very hard time not laughing about his antics. And as anyone who knows Brenda will attest, once you get Brenda laughing about something, it’s hard to get her to stop. Now most of the time, that is ok, because it really is fun to listen to Brenda’s laugh, but when they were trying to get those pictures taken, Brenda’s laugh, and Bob’s humor were not as appreciated as they were on most other occasions.
On this particular occasion, in about 1968, Bob and Brenda were in rare form, joking with each other quite a bit. Their mother seemed to be handling things pretty well, and their sisters all thought the whole thing was pretty funny too. Their dad, however, was clearly not amused at all. I’m sure that by the time this whole photography session was over, he even had quite a headache. He was always a very easy going, and mostly a soft spoken person, but I would wager that this had taxed his patience to the limit.
I have known this man a long time, and he was always long suffering, but once his patience had ended, he had the ability to blow a gasket with the best of them. At that point, you knew it was time to straighten up your act, and by the look on Bob’s and Brenda’s faces he had reached that point. They were clearly mid-laugh when their dad yelled, “Knock it off!!” At that point there was nothing they could do except to close their mouths tightly and swallow what was left of that laugh. That can make for the funniest of faces as you can clearly see, but I suppose it was better than the alternative, which would have been the spanking they probably deserved.
My Uncle Jim and my dad were a couple of characters. They loved to get together and when they did, oh boy…watch out. They would tease the kids and our moms, and manage to get everybody laughing. It was always such fun to have Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim and the kids come to our house or to go to their house. It didn’t matter how you felt before they got started, because after they started joking around, you felt great. It was just an ability they both had and when you put the two of them together, they were doubly funny. Sometimes I think they drove our moms crazy…especially when they got us kids going. And since they moved away, I think my dad always did his best to live up to the old tradition…or maybe he started it in the first place. It’s hard to say.
Dad and Uncle Jim liked to invent different soups too. They would just start throwing different ingredients in and cook it up. They were pretty good at all this, because no one complained. Many men can’t cook at all, much less make up a recipe as they go along. In fact, a lot of women can’t do that. I know I’ve tried to add things I thought would be good, and it wasn’t so spectacular. I guess you were just born with a certain knack for it.
We always had so much fun when Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth and the kids lived here, and it was really sad to see them move away. Time and distance have pushed our lives further and further away from each other. My cousin Larry passed away in 1976, Aunt Ruth in 1992, and my dad in 2007. We hadn’t seen much of Uncle Jim, Shirley, or Terry for a long time, until Facebook brought us back together. That is something I am very happy about. My Uncle Jim turned 90 a few days ago, and while he is in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease, I am still thrilled that he has reached such a grand old age. And I’m quite sure that whether people see it or not, there is still that little boy in there somewhere. Uncle Jim and my dad were always just a couple of little boys at heart