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Uncle Bob and Aunt Prunie are coming to visit us for a spell. I don’t mind that, but they’re bringing my two dreaded little cousins with them.
That means there’s going to be a couple of real boogers in our house for a while. Yes sir, double trouble is on the way. I reckon they couldn’t find anybody willing to take the pair in during their absence.
Things have been wide open around here. Since we got their postcard, we’ve been busy getting things straightened up.
You know, fluff up the pillows, get out the good China and tablecloth, sweep the porch and walkway and such.
Mama even stocked up on some mighty good groceries she wouldn’t normally buy.
I had to ask Mama about that, too.
The last time we visited Uncle Bob and Aunt Prunie, I sure didn’t notice any sort of red carpet treatment for us.
It was grits for breakfast, soup for dinner and leftovers at supper time.
Mama said Uncle Bob had a lot of expenses, which left very little to spend on fancy stuff.
From the looks of what littered the ground behind Uncle Bob’s barn, I figured most of those expenses went for the “good stuff.”
It looked a lot like newspaper whiskey ads.
“Aunt Prunie spends her extra money down at the church to help lost souls,” Mama said.
But from the looks of things, she wasn’t doing very much to help her own family.
When I asked Mama about that, she gave me the look.
I knew what that meant.
“Change the subject.” she said. I didn’t ask again.
Within a few days, my aunt and uncle were strolling up our walkway with their beloved little angels, Dumb and Dumber in tow.
They were loaded down with suitcases and bags. It appeared to me they planned on moving in with us, rather than visiting.
Dumb and Dumber hadn’t changed very much since I last saw them.
You know, Daddy always said, “those boys were raised in a barn.”
Given that, I figured it was a good idea to put them up in the plunder house, but I kept that suggestion to myself.
Well sir, these relatives just came in and took over the house. I felt like the clean-up man at the Imperial Theater.
I bet they brought most of the country with them because all of them left a big, dark ring around the bath tub.
Dumb and Dumber were always looking for something to eat.
Mama had a Merita pound cake in the pantry and when they got a hold of it, they ate everything but the paper. That was supposed to be Sunday dessert. Oh well, I thought.
Mama was getting antsy and addled because she was left to clean up after each meal while Aunt Prunie retired to her room to read her Bible.
Old Uncle Bob had something else to keep him occupied.
It seems he was fascinated by spirits; not the kind that roam hallways at night, but those distilled in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Uncle Bob had a bloodhound’s nose for them, too.
Daddy kept a bottle of toddy whiskey concealed in the hallway grandfather clock for medicinal purposes. It had been there for ages and only came out during flu season to brew hot tonics.
I heard a hallway commotion and turned the corner to see Uncle Bob knocking out the bottom of the bottle. There was nary a drop left.
This might get interesting, I thought. Daddy’s got a temper when you mess with him, and boy, our visitors had the veins on his forehead turning blue and getting bigger by the minute.
Mama was doing her level best to keep him reined in, but had her hands full. Within another 24 hours, his temper was on edge.
But our visitors didn’t mind it one bit.
“They’ve been blessed out so many times, they don’t even notice,” Daddy said in a gruff voice.
Now, the big Philco radio in the living room was Daddy’s pride and joy.
I steered clear of it. If I wanted to listen to the Lone Ranger and Gangbusters, I used the little Crosley in the upstairs kitchen.
Nobody messed with the Philco, period.
Unannounced, Daddy walked in and caught my two cousins flipping the dial and fooling with the speakers. This might get interesting, too.
His voice boomed throughout the house, reminding me of Moses or some of those other Bible story folks. Daddy was speaking in tongues.
I didn’t understand a lot of it, but Dumb and Dumber sure did. They got out of the living room in a hurry.
After working in the hot kitchen all afternoon, Mama had a big beef roast with all kinds of vegetables and stuff for supper.
Everything seemed to be going well until the cousins started tussling over the gravy boat. It was slam full and they slung its contents across Mama’s good white tablecloth and onto the dining room rug.
Now, if you’d ever seen the gates down at Nitrolee open up and foaming Catawba River water rush down the spillways, you were comfortable at our supper table.
Old Moses stood up and shook his fist.
The room cleared, except for me, I was just itching to see what would happen next. This is going to get interesting.
Within five minutes, Uncle Bob grabbed up his suitcase, Aunt Prunie tucked her Scriptures under her arm and were out the door. Dumb and Dumber ran barefooted across the hall floor and straight to their old car.
Within seconds, they were gone in a cloud of cheap, 30-weight black dust.
Thank goodness there was still some gravy left in the kitchen. We cleaned up the mess and sat back down to a good family meal in peace.
In future years, whenever other relatives visited, it seemed almost too calm.
There’s one thing for sure, you can’t pick your kin. With relatives, you gotta play the hand you’re dealt.
Right now, I’m visiting our grandchildren in Maryland. I’m doing my best to watch my manners and stay away from the gravy boat.
My granddaughter’s husband is a former Marine. I have few doubts of his ability to speak in tongues if it’s needed.