After dinner we went to the station.

Natalie hadn’t been there - at least in her memory - and was delighted to see her last name painted on these enormous tankers. I think she got an eye-opening lesson in what Grandpa built. Not that it surprised her, really; she thinks he's amazing.

Which he is.


Back to Dad’s place for a rollicking session of stories and family lore. I remembered Dad had a store of photos - not many, alas; I’ve taken a lot back for storage and scanning, but he didn’t have much to begin with.

But something new always shows up. I have no idea where these came from. He brought down a folder, and there were things I’d never seen before. I presume they came from his brother, who recently died; perhaps the kids sent them along. I don’t know. There were letters from my dad’s twin, Robert, to Brother Wayne. He was in the Navy, and from the date of the letter it were sent ten months before Wayne was nearly killed at Pearl Harbor.

The letter was written with a 14-year-old schoolboy hand. He talked about the movie he’d seen at the Princess, the frame he’d made for a picture of his favorite baseball player, “Dissy Dean.” A few months later he got a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop.

“We were living in a shack,” Dad said. “The rats would keep you up at night running on the floor.” Poor. Ten-children poor. They called the County Relief office for a doctor to treat the nosebleed. An intern showed up, stuffed Robert’s nose with cotton and said that ought to do it.

The nosebleed didn’t stop, and Robert had trouble breathing.

“My father called the ambulance when the bleeding wouldn’t stop,” Dad said, “and they took him to St. John’s, but the nuns wouldn’t take him because my father couldn’t tell them how he could pay for it. The ambulance driver came in and said they should go to St. Lukes, so there’s where they put him.”

Photos, March 3, 1941.


After that my dad joined. His ne’er do well father, who had no job, decided this was a good way to get out of his obligations. Look at that grifting SOB.

I never knew him, and I wish I would have, just to have a memory to pass along. After the war he moved away to the northernmost part of the state and remarried. Years later all the sons arrived from all over the country and they all went up to see him. I found a picture in the drawer one day; this short little stooped-over blueprint, surrounded by sons who had ten times his drive and success.

Dad had some papers from his brother’s hitch: his papers from the equator-crossing ceremony.

Large version here. It’s blank, but it’s my uncle’s ship. My dad also participated in the ceremony, too - an inglorious pollywog seeking favor with Neptune. He was also a Plank Holder:


A few shots I've never seen of Dad home on his first leave. Aunt Vi is second from the left. He looks impossibly young.

"You shouldn't go to Brazil," he told Daughter. "It's dangerous."

"Grandpa, when you were younger than me you went to Manilla and people were trying to kill you."

He laughed and admitted she had a point.

By the end of the evening dad was showing us his collection of identical large cheap calcualtors, sent to him by various charities, each with his name printed on a sticker affixed crookedly at the bottom. Even the labels were cheap; I could rub off his name with my thumb. Do you want these? No, that’s okay, thanks.

To bed. We had to get up early to make it back for Daughter’s noon shift at work. On the road by seven AM.

The mood was different. Not bad, but quieter; she was sleepy, and checked out for long passages, lulled by the drone of the road. The sky was dark ahead, with sun behind, that strange light that makes everything seem charged and portentous. I felt heavy: that was it. The last carefree time.

It’s all a race to the departure gate now.


Mumps Lance could think better if he got closer to thelab table and crouched down and spoke wihout moving his lips:


Solution here.



It's the latest installment of radio's fabulous fabulist, Bill Stern. I think he says "but - but" in a particlar tone when he's really about to sling the nonsense.





Instead of the swank old sounds of Goodwill albums, this year we're going to share bad 1960s pop music. The second- and third-tier tunes.



1969. Let's pick on the glandular case.




1958. Good question, no? Chuck White has the answer.





The story about the towns? True. We'll give Bill some credit for that one. The burgs are ghost towns now; the railway is a nature trail.

The moment the story switches to Argentina, though, you suspect . . . well. Maybe not. And then the third story? It's a bit complicated, and I can't find anything to suggest that the town made money on betting . . .

That's a pretty mild fib for Bill.

But - but the second town story sounds like nonsense. What's more, I don't think anyone who heard the STRANGEST PART OF THE STORY cared at all.

Huh. How about that.



That will do. More next week! Underscored with sadness and dread! Unless the visa doesn't come.

The visa hasn't come yet.



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