Friday, November 26, 2004

Picking Persimmons at the Summit with Unkie

Knocked around Flip Flop with Unkie and Aunt D. After hours of discussion, we ate lunch at The Crepe Place. She was paranoid that I would take them to a place with greasy, processed food. No such thing in Flip Flop, I assured her. They bicker like siblings, its pretty annoying/funny. She didn't llike the way he parked, he said she was being fussy when she demanded wet paper towels to clean up persimmon goo. Unkie is one of my favorite relatives on the maternal Side. Urbane, well-travelled, educated, slender-- polar opposite of most of the other relatives. We went up into the mountains to visit the Persimmon Orchard. The owners are too busy to hire pickers this year, so it was a riot of orange fruit. An entire hillside just covered with them, the leaves had gone and the trees were nearly falling down from their load. The H*ster prolly would have died of excitement (don't worry, you can help youself to the bag on the counter, just let them get ripe, first). We ate quite a few, the ripe ones just burst in your hand, and you would have to bury your face in them to get the sweet pulp out. After a while our faces and hands had a dry, sticky film. While we picked, Unkie regailed me with stories about the family (its more f*cked up than I realized.. the crazyness/depression spans the generations).

Hollywood Stories

I heard about Grandpa Billy's Silver plate (a monument to pre-industrial brain surgery). Mamy Yokum, the black nurse who raised generations of E's on a plantation in Kentucky (those Es were crazy but not tragic like the current generation). One of their horses won the Kentucky Derby in 1898. The Doctor (who got three medical degrees from the University of Heidelberg, Notre Dame and I can't remember the third, he was an international playboy-type) finally got married to his former fiance's daughter (Lulu), then left them to "fight yellow fever in Panama." Rather than raise her children alone in Kentucky, Lulu piled everyone into a car and drove to Hollywood to become famous. I heard about Uncle Kenneth's failed drag career (at the tender age of six) and how Lulu wrote a hit song in the 1920's. I heard about the Canadian-British Ss, who were totally straight-laced presbyterian calvinists and how they just happened to be neighbors with the crazy southern alcoholic Es. And how a neighborly romance became another twisted chapter in the family saga and their union produced Unkie and my grandfather.

Granted, it could all just be moonshine. Its better than hearing about how Uncle Palomar shot himself (and lived) and how my mom didn't have any shoes growing up. Unkie shared how my crazy grandfather was always crazy. He liked to blow things up in the incinerator and make home made bombs when he was a kid. He may have been grown to be a sadistic ass-hole, and caused damage to a lot of innocent people, but at least he didn't commit the faux-pas of being conventional.

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