The Return of the Black Eyed Cartheginian
This was a trip to the west coast right out of high school, signalling the timing of my leaving home to be on my own.
|These articles, stories and accounts of my life, as I recall them, and are copywrited. Unauthorized use will be pursued at my determination, to the degree that I am inclined. Any hard feeling caused by memories that don't match yours are unfortunate and you'll just have to get over it! Feel free to contact me if you have a request for their use.|
It was getting dark, and I was playing with my toys in the dirt beside the front porch when my Aunt Penny ran past me screaming as if she had just seen the Hound of the Baskervilles and as bloody as if she had been bitten repeatedly. I looked up as she ran past me and into the kitchen carrying something in her hand that was dripping blood.
It seems that my Uncle Bud had an accident while working on the tractor. He had severed his thumb and my Aunt had picked it up and brought it into the kitchen to wash it before taking it to the hospital, along with my Uncle Bud.
It was a great effort, but eventually the thumb was rejected and my uncle had lost the use of the thumb on his right hand.
My Aunt Penny was my dads sister and the two families had shared the rolling hills of Brighton, Michigan during the early ‘40's, tending to a farm, raising cattle and struggling to make ends meets for four adults and five young children.
I still remember eating rhubarb pie from roots that us kids would bring home from combing the roadsides of the Brighton country roads, making home made ice cream and playing Frisbee with the hard, flattened cow patties from the fields. It was a special occasion when we earned enough money from collecting bottles along side the roads to finance a trip to town for store-bought ice cream, comic books and a candy bar.
Over the years our families separated, with my folks moving to Howell , Michigan and my Aunt Penny and Uncle Bud moving to Kansas City , Kansas . On ensuing visits over the years, I was always entertained by my Uncle Buds humor, his addiction to ice cream and his capability as a salesman. Even at a young age, I was impressed with his willingness to approach people and shake their hand, even though the thumb was missing on the hand he extended in conjunction with a humorous greeting.
I am unable to recall when he first referred to me as a black-eyed Carthaginian, or in what manner he associated anyone with having lived in an ancient city near Tunisia, but he always made it sound fun and his humor was addictive. He was a very street smart man and extremely self-educated. I was told the black-eyed reference was from the time on the farm when I was constantly playing on a pile of black rubber lid washers from some canning jars that had been dumped along side the dirt road near the farm. Apparently, after playing all day in them and tossing them around, the residue would gather around my eyes.
It was the summer of 1960 and I had just graduated from high school in Middletown , Ohio . I had been accepted at Wilmington College and landed a job in a local Wilmington manufacturing plant that would not start for three weeks. My folks made plans to send me to see my dad's brother near Los Angeles in Redondo Beach , and I was looking forward to the trip with some apprehension as it was going to be my first flight in an airplane, but was very excited at the possibility of being able to go surfing.
I had purchased a new briefcase for school, and wanted to take it along, so Mom offered to provide some home made cookies and Dad bought me some sports car racing magazines for the flight.
Despite my apprehension, all went well and I met my uncle Dick at Los Angeles International Airport and off we went to the big city. The first few days were fun seeing my cousins, running around and attending a few movies, but I really wanted to try surfing, and asked if we could go to the beach. Uncle Dick had made previous plans for this particular Saturday, so I got my cousin John to take me down to the beach to catch a glimpse of the ocean and watch the surfers.
Well, the first thing I noticed was not the surfers, but what the sunbathers were wearing. Let me tell you, the girls in California wear different swim suits that the girls in Ohio ! Oh my!
That took most of the morning to get used to and it was somewhat difficult to keep ‘southern six and the boys' at ease and under control with all that skin and movement that was in attendance that day. I honestly could not comprehend where all the people came from.
I had to buy a surfboard! It was obvious that a white skinned white boy from Ohio stood no chance with any of these ‘sweet things' unless he had a tan and could show off his skills in some manner. I had no idea about surfing, but there was no lack of surf shops to look thru and there was always some one willing to offer their advice to a novice, especially an apparent ‘newby'.
Knowing that I was only going to be there a few weeks, and thin on spend able income, I was of course looking for a bargain, and in the course of visiting numerous surf shops, one board in particular kept coming to the fore front as an affordable one. It also was the longest of those I looked at, and was the same coloring as my favorite guitar, a shiny golden blonde finish, and I could not resist.
Both my uncle and cousin had to work during the week, so I had to carry that thing home, about 4 miles away. It was pretty cool for about the first mile or so, showing I was part of the ‘in' crown on the west coast, but that damned thing got pretty heavy, and ugly, by the time I got it home.
No matt er, I was cool! I sanded that board from end to end for several days during the evenings so that I could attend to getting tanned during the day. A white boy on a surf board was not how I planned to make by debut. I continued to tan and sand thru the weekend, so that my first public attempt at surfing would not be in front of a standing room only audience, and my tan would better compliment the blond surf board. That seemed to be a good plan, but it didn't happen exactly as I planned it.
Monday morning came, warm and bright, uncle and cousin had headed to work, and I left the house listening to Connie Francis singing Everybody's Somebody's Fool , determined that was not going to be me today, that in fact I intended to impress some girl enough that she might be inclined to write love ‘letters in the sand' ala Pat Boone.
Fat chance, but it did cross my mind. The expectation of the coming day's events gave me some strength and speed as well, as the board did not seem to be nearly as heavy heading toward the beach as it had seemed on the way home from the surf shop.
The board was about 6-1/2 or seven feet long and I balanced it first on one shoulder, then the other, eager to show off my athletic ability, expecting to tour Hawaii in a year or so if college didn't work out. ( I was partially clairvoyant!).
When I arrived at the beach, it was sparsely populated, but there were some surfers, as well as some sunbathers and a scattering of ladies that were obviously there to make an impression on some one, and a number of surfers were sprawled out on their boards, I assumed getting a tan.
I was later to learn the hard way that they were waiting for the waves to increase in size so that they would have enough wave length to support the length of their boards, as apparently this part of the Pacific is not blessed with very large waves. I finally figured this out on my own, but it wasn't a pretty site until I did. I had played football and basketball, ran track and was a pretty fair dancer for a white kid and so I was thinking how hard can this surfing be? I had most of it figured out before hand I thought, with one exception. I spent the later part of the morning and most of the afternoon repeatedly trying to stay afloat aboard my beautiful blonde beast of a board until I finally figured out that you had to have a board shorter than the leading edge of the wave. If you were not sporting this configuration, all that was happening was that as you got your balanced position on top of the board, the tip of the board was dipping into the flat part of the water.
Finally, someone either took pity on me, or was afraid that the blood I was depositing into the ocean from getting hit with the board was going to attract an unpopular aquatic inhabitant to their detriment, and explained to me that I had been sold a board that was too long for this area of the Pacific.
I was pretty pissed at this point, but not in a financial position to do much about it, so I went back to my uncles' home and using an assortment of saws, some glue and long deck screws, I cut two feet of the board, fiber glassed the opening at the rear, re-attached the fin and went back the next day. Much better! I was able to get right up and enjoyed the next few days, and actually got invited to spend some time with two of the sunbathers who happened to be sisters, a theme that seemed to appear off and on through the course my life, for some reason.
Other than a very short but frightening encounter with a small shark while snorkeling off Palos Verdes Point, the rest of my time in the Los Angeles area was rather uneventful, and I began preparing to take a train north to visit another of my Dads' brothers, my Uncle Don.
Don was a career enlisted man, and was stationed at the Jim Creek Naval Radio Station in Osso , Washington , where he oversaw certain segments of the huge radio transmission towers for the US submarines operating in the Pacific Ocean . I had heard a lot about him and was looking forward to meeting him for the first time.
I awoke several mornings later to the smell of fried chicken, the likes of which I had not encountered since I had left home earlier in the summer. My aunt had been kind enough to get an early start to the day by getting up early and frying up some chicken and wrap it in aluminum foil prior to my departure for the Great North that afternoon.
I had spent the early part of my life working on a farm, and it was refreshing to know I was going to able to enjoy the taste of good ol' fried chicken without having to smell the remnants of the blood and boiled feathers that invariably lingered for a day or two after the requisite work required the day before changing those chickens from fliers to fryers.
After the polite chat about ‘glad you came' and ‘thanks for having me' with my Aunt, my Uncle and I headed for downtown Los Angeles to the train station to embark to great northern territory. The ride was slow and we listened to Connie Francis sing Everbody's Somebody's Fool as we fought our way thru downtown Los Angeles riddled with traffic light interruptions and scary drivers, and arrived just in time for the 9:00 departure, saving the hapless shuffling and idle chatter that seems to be normal for family groups in a public environment.
Seating was pre-arranged in the lower section of the Scenic Cruiser car, and the conductor led me straight to my seat, on the lower deck, and I had made sure I was near the window, as I am a curious sort and wanted to see as much of California as I could while I was on this trip.
We pulled out of L.A. riding aboard the Union Pacific, and headed north, on to Glendale, up slow grades and back down to the valley, and just before we went thru Bakersfield I got up and walked up the steps to the glassed-in viewing area of the rail road car, to get a better look at the country side. As I scanned from front to rear and left to right, checking out mostly rock and shrubs, my concentration quickly turned to a very attractive young lady sitting several seats in front of me on the other side of the isle. I continued to look at the scenery, but was constantly taking a glance at this young lady, trying to see if she was close to my age and did I have the testicles to approach her. I had seen girls my own age dressed up before, but not in this manner. She had perfect skin, nice tan and bright pink lipstick. She wore sunglasses, so I was unable to see her eyes. Her hair was blonde, shoulder length and was tied back in a pair of hairclips.
I also noticed a more mature lady was smiling at me each time she caught me glancing at the young girl, and after 45 minutes or so this older lady approached me, introduced herself as Adell, and asked if I would like to meet the object of my infatuation I had been admiring. Of course I said that would love to, and she told me to wait right here. She approached the young lady and spoke to her, causing her to turn and look in my direction. Apparently, I had not left any friend chicken remnants on me any where, and my shirt tail was tucked in, so they both returned to where I was sitting. Adell introduced me to her as Gloria, and I told her my name and asked her to sit down next to me, which she did, and Adell took a seat two rows behind us and across the isle, I am sure to keep an eye on us. More than likely an eye on me.
During the course of the conversation, I learned that her name was Gloria Mimieux, and she was the sister of Evette Mimieux, who was ‘in the movies'. I was to learn more about this when I got home, as she was in a couple of movies that same year. Gloria, as it turned out was one year younger than I was, and at that stage of your youth the age difference was critical as to whom you could talk with. The older lady was a contributing editor for the Glamour of Hollywood magazine and was her chaperone, and they were on their way to a studio in Canada to get some publicity photos that required snow in the background for an upcoming interview with the Walt Disney Studios.
As the trip continued northward in California , we rapidly grew to be quite good friends. I was very interested in being with a Hollywood ‘starlet' and she had never been around a small town ‘hillbilly', and we were constantly being amused by each others experiences and viewpoints on life. I had up to this point, never been in front of a camera, and she had never seen a live chicken. I had never seen a small front yard that had the grass replaced with green cement to negate mowing grass, and she had never been sledding in the snow on a barn door, and on and on! It was a real eye opener for us both, and we were having a great time as the trip wound its way up thru the valley.
We were just leaving Modesto, where we had stopped to pick up some passengers, when we were notified that those of us who were continuing further north would be making our train transfer in Sacramento in about an hour and to begin making preparations, which for us including comparing our Pullman compartment locations. Noting that we were going to be on separate cars, Gloria and I both besieged Adell to see if she could arrange for us all to be closer together as we were to continue with these arrangements until I departed the train in Washington . She apparently had been amused with our infatuation with each other and was willing to see it continue, and set off to see if she could make any adjustments, returning merely minutes later with good news.
She had approached the conductor, explaining that we were both involved in some upcoming movie and we needed to spend more time together rehearsing than the current sleeping arrangements would allow. Adell was a wise woman I am sure, as she did arrange for us to be on the same car, but with different Pullman compartments. The good news was there were adjoining doors, the bad news was Adell's bed was between Gloria's and mine. At any rate, it was all for naught, as I had not developed any courting skills that would have permitted me make any moves in this type of setting.
We rolled into Sacramento about 7:00 PM , made the switch and departed about one hour later, on our way to Redding , California , about three hours away. We continued to talk like we had never seen another person our own age, jabbering constantly except for the occasional trip to the snack compartment tree cars back, for a coke and chips, or whatever our fancy was at the time. We compared our favorite music, which I knew a few things about, to her view on clothes and fashion that I knew little about other than she sure looked good in hers. I'm sure we had talked until the early hours of the morning, and I don't remember when I fell asleep, but I when I awoke, I was alone in my compartment and we were approaching Salem , Oregon , as we had just left the inclines of Eugene . I had slept thru most of the tight turns and grades as we passed thru the mountainous regions of Mount Shasta , California and Ashland and Grants Pass , Oregon , and was feeling quite chipper, though very hungry.
It must have been around 8:00 , and just as I was getting dressed, Gloria knocked on the door, and appeared in a very fashionable dress as was apparently her custom, and we were fast after it all over again, chatting like chip monks on the way to the dining car for breakfast. I was quickly reminded just how attractive this young girl was, and how finely detailed she presented herself so early in the morning. We joined a few minutes later by Adell, who had apparently not taken as much time to prepare herself as had Gloria. Adell, looked a little rougher than the day before, and when I made a reference to that effect, Gloria laughed as she tilted her lead back along with her cupped hand, indicating that miss Adell may have entertained herself the night before as we were talking. At any rate, she left us to our own wits the rest of the day and we walked up and down the cars, looked out the top of the observation car and eventually slowing down to enjoying the scenery as we approached Seattle, noting that it had turned greener and more plush, now that we had left the high country.
We ate lunch together, and traded phone numbers and she said she would send me some of the publicity photos when she got back to Los Angeles , and we talked idly as we anticipated my departure near Marysville , Washington in about an hour. We sat close to each other, held hands like little kids and acted like we might actually miss each other, and it appeared, that despite my growing interest in kissing this little cutie, it wasn't going to happen as I was just not able to pull the trigger on that event. She smelled particularly inviting and her movements as we sat closer and closer gave me an indication that she was developing a little faster than most of the young ladies back home, and she was not bashful regarding the display of those attributes. It was beginning to have an increasing effect on me, but I still was unable to position myself for a lip-lock.
They announced the upcoming stop at Marysville, and I we went to my area to retrieve my briefcase, sans any remaining chicken, and my only suitcase. As we were coming to a stop, I saw my Uncle Dick on the walkway, and waived my recognition. She continued to walk with me to the exit at the rear of the car, we said our good byes, and as I turned away and started down the steps, she called out and came up to me and planted a jam up, high dollar, great tasting kiss on my lips that surpassed anything I had conjured up that day, right in front of my Aunt and Uncle and their two young boys. She went to one of the windows and waved good bye once more, and I never saw her again. Damn, what a way to boost your confidence! I matured a little more that day.
She did as she said she would and about a month later, I went home from Wilmington College to visit my folks and there was an envelope at the house that not only had some pictures from the Alaska photo shoot, but several pictures of her in a bikini, and others in various arrays of skimpy clothing, along with a note saying something to the effect: thanks for the excitement on the train, signed ‘your train wife'. My girl friend at the time took one look at the note, walked out the door and I have never seen her since either. I was given no chance to explain the reality of the trip, but the pictures and the memory of that train ride got me thru the summer of work and soccer until school started, and I began mingling with a whole new set of friends.
My uncle Dick looked pretty sharp in his Navy blues. He told us all got in the car, and we headed up I-5, passing the Tulalip Indian reservation, and turned east on route #530 hell bent for Osso, Washington, population 186.
They lived in a modest home near a river, and after a great home cooked meal, my Uncle invited me to go with fishing with him and the boys aged 5 and 7. It was actually a little chilly that evening, and in addition to my lack of desire to eat fish, I decided not to wet a worm, but had a fun time watching them catch some pretty fair sized trout. We finished the evening with the usual ‘what have you been doing, how's the family' and other trivia, while I was still mentally on that train to Canada .
Dick and I rose early the next day as he had promised me a ride that I would not forget, and he turned out to be right about that. He told me to bring my heaviest coat, and get moving, and that he had a surprise for me when we got to the base. We took his station wagon towards Arlington , turning left on the road to the previously mentioned Jim Creek Naval Base where we picked up a jeep. It had larger than normal off road tires plus the required assorted flags, spare tire, tools, a huge winch mounted on the front bumper and a radio as big as a small television with an antennae that must have been ten feet tall. This was a serious set of wheels.
I was instructed to ‘tie your ass to the seat, and don't touch anything', and off we went, headed to the base of some part of the northern Cascade mountains for a ride into the sky to do maintenance work at the base of one of the antennae towers.
As we rode in the jeep towards the foothills, he explained that there were ten antennas stretching across the Jim Creek valley, and each of them were supported at either end by 200 feet tall steel towers, and that each of them had a control shack at their base, and we were headed to one of them to perform a maintenance checklist that would take about 3 hours, and further explaining that the antennae were built in 1953 and their primary mission was, using 1.2 million watts, to transmit VFL (very low frequency) signals to the entire Pacific submarine fleet. How cool is that?
We were in the jeep almost 45 minutes, and as we began going up the mountain, the roads became narrower, turned to gravel and became much steeper. It was getting pretty scary as we traversed the narrow roads right at the edge of the mountain side. It had started to snow and it was quite heavy as he suddenly stopped and I noticed that we were at a small flat surface that had a shed with two large sliding doors. He got out, opened the right side door and we drove in.
Holy Shit! What a sight I was looking at. In the left side of this garage was a modified M29 Weasel Snow Cat. It had an orange, boxy-looking body with four doors and two very large, 20 inch wide tracks that propelled it in deep snow. It had a six cylinder 4-cycle motor in it and there was a ‘Made by Studebaker' tag nearby. Uncle Dick explained that this rig was developed during WWII specifically for use in snow covered areas and pointed out the mount on the rear that used to carry a 75 mm recoilless rifle.
After opening the other door, Dick jumped in, and indicating with his eyes, the familiar ‘tie your ass down and hang on' look, he gave two pumps on the gas pedal, and that creature sprung to life with a deafening roar inside the small shed. Man, was that ever cool! With smoke and thunder from the engine, and scraping and squeaking from the tracks, we eased our way out into the heavy snow. I had no clue where we were headed and I didn't give a crap, I was ready to go.
He pushed and pulled the levers getting this thing to turn to the right, a slight left and up the mountain we went for about ten minutes, then a sudden left and we were at a dead end, or so I thought. Dick reached up and adjusting the rearview mirror, he hit the loud pedal and here we went again, only traveling in reverse this time. A few minutes later we jolted to a stop, clanked and shuddered slightly to the right, and began to travel forward for another few minutes, only to come to an abrupt halt and jerk a little to the left, and go at it again. We were traveling sideways up the side of a mountain in about one quarter mile increments, and my Uncle Dick looked over to me and asked me if I hadn't ever seen a traverse road before. ‘Not in my first 18 years I replied, being a smart ass. With that remark, we neared another switching point, at which time he jerked those levers and pedals in a manner that just made the Weasel turn 180 degrees, putting me on the outside of the trail facing the outer edge of the trail where I could see nothing but an increasing open space. We never spoke another word until we reached the top of the ridge. I caught a faint glimpse of a smile on his face when he asked if I enjoyed the trip up, and said the trip down will be fun too!
The snow was falling heavy and at a 45 degree angle, as I put on the only jacket I had and followed my uncle inside, where he opened up a work cabinet, pulled out some tools and test equipment and went to working in the first of a line of tall cabinets that housed electronic ‘stuff'. After a moment he paused and said I almost forgot to give you your surprise.
From the bottom of his tool bag, he pulled out a Ka-bar Navy survival knife with a 7-1/2" blade that was in a metal sheath, attached to a canvas belt and a pair of leather strings hanging from the bottom of the sheath. It had a leather strap with a snap at the top to prevent accidental removal of the knife. He went on to explain that I should put it on and tie the leather straps around my leg in a manner that you would tie down a pistol. Very, very cool! He than said if I would like, I could put on a borrowed snow jacket and safety helmet with a cloth head cover and go outside, but not to stray too far, and keep the shack in sight.
I was getting pretty bored by then, and it seemed to be a good idea, so off I went into the snow. I walked around for a while and started to practice ‘drawing' the knife out of the sheath like I was a gunslinger in the old Wild West, and trying to embed it into a tree. I wasn't worth a crap at it, but with nothing else to do, I kept at it and got where I could do it once in a while, and looked around for some ‘wild game' to test my skills. With all the snow I couldn't get very far away into the woods and keep sight of the work shack, but I did what I could and soon spied a good sized rabbit only about 40 feet away.
A hunter, I'm not, so as soon as I reached for the knife that rabbit hit the trail, but because of my lack of skill, I over shot the initial position of that rabbit and hit it as it was running away from me, and down it went. I was proud as hell for about two seconds, and then I was remorseful for killing an innocent rabbit, and had no idea what the hell I was going to do with it. I walked up to it and noting there was no blood, began to wonder how it died. I circled it a couple of times and as I bent down to turn it over, that darn critter jumped up, startling me and ran between my legs, and off into the woods. Apparently, I had just knocked him out. I still maintain that little spot of yellow snow was from the rabbit.
I was quite a ways off from the work shack, and I was getting cold, so I headed back in that direction towards the door that was at the opposite end of the building from where I was coming from, and as I turned the corner and started to reaching for the door I was face to face with a small deer about three feet tall. A white deer. With red eyes. We both stood still and looked at each other without moving. He must have witnessed my encounter with the rabbit as it was clear that he was not afraid of me. He bent down, nibbled something from the ground and meandered back into the woods. I quickly went inside and told my Uncle about the deer, and he said another maintenance technician had said he had seen an Albino deer as well, about two weeks ago.
An hour or so later, we headed back down the mountain, and he repositioned the Weasel so that I had that outside edge view again, but it actually was pleasant this time and I had an awesome view that I have never had since.
Two more days with the relatives and on a misty Thursday morning, I was off on the beginning of a long two day train ride to see my Uncle Bud and Aunt Penny in Kansas City , Kansas .
Again, it was an early morning trip to the train depot in Seattle, we said our goodbyes and I was off to find my seat, finally locating it in the second of the many passenger cars that were hooked up to a tandem of two of those
Yellow and Grey Union Pacific GE-C44 diesel locomotives. These big boys had forty four hundred horsepower
each! We were geared up for some serious traveling across the Rockies and points east. I love to traveland was anxiously waiting to view what lie ahead. Without the distraction of perfume and lace, I was looking forward to a more subdued trip that would allow me to see more of the scenery that was on the outside of the train, and as we pulled out of Seattle , retracing my steps south as far as Portland , I settled in and turned toward the window. With the sun was from the east in the morning, my side of the car was pretty bright, not affording me a very comfortable view of the scenery that I had also missed on the way north.
We passed thru Portland just before lunch, and I was getting hungry, so I headed back to the dining car about the same time that we snuggled into the southern edge of the Columbia River on our way to Pendleton , Oregon . It was a breathtaking view to look out the window for miles and miles, watching every bend and curve in that bluish green ribbon that was following our every move. We were alone in the wilderness for hours with only the occasional small town or an old bridge to break up the serene windings of the river with nothing between us and the water but the rhythmic clatter of the wheels below.
The river veered northeast just as we headed southeast about twenty minutes before we reached Pendleton, where we stopped for what I assumed was a passenger loading or departure, as it lasted less than 15 minutes. The departure from the river scenery made me realize that it was about suppertime for me, so I headed back to the dining car as we pulled out of Pendleton on our way to Boise , Idaho .
The dining car was somewhat nicer than the ride north on the other train, with larger seats and tables, and the car itself seemed larger for some reason. There must not have been any Pullman cars on this trip, as there seemed to be more folks mulling around the diner car for a long period of time. The food was very good and the conversations were not too bad, but paled in comparison to the earlier trip north as far as entertainment value was concerned.
The sun was setting as I headed back to my seat, to make some adjustments for the dark ride thru the night, and I soon dozed off, only to be jolted awake as we came to a stop in Nampa , just a few miles short of Boise , aggravated that I had been asleep as we crossed the Snake River Bridge . This stop was somewhat longer for some reason, and we didn't get going again until about midnight .
I ate breakfast while traveling thru Pocatello , Idaho , had lunch as we traveled thru the Great Divide Basin in the Wyoming territory, and enjoyed a nice dinner while stopped for the passenger transfer in Cheyenne . Then it was back to my seat, settling in for another night time ride with the sandman. I slept thru the rest of Nebraska , wakening to the sunrise as we crossed the border into Missouri , and began gathering my thoughts and item for the arrival in Kansas City at 8:00 .
Again, family to meet me at the station, as My Uncle Bud and brought my Aunt Penny with him to pick me up. It was always weird shaking hands with my Uncle Bud because the thumb on his right hand was missing from the tractor accident, and placing your palm in his took some coordination to not over reach his palm. We all went out to eat breakfast and the fun that I remembered having with them was happening again.
My Aunt Penny was a gorgeous, tall red head, always wore bright lipstick, usually wore a dress, and most often wore a large feminine hat. She was well educated and usually quiet and well mannered and played the straight guy to my Uncle Bud who was very, very funny. He had large bulging eyes, slightly gapped, very white teeth and a huge handlebar moustache. I don't ever remember him wearing a hat. He was a salesman, and a good one, always able to remember a clients name, members of their family's names and what their hobby interests were. He always had a smile and a joke or a funny story. He still called me a ‘Black Eyed Carthaginian'. I remember him telling me about the black around my face and eyes from the rubber pile a long side the road in Brighton , Michigan , but can't say that I ever knew why he addressed me as a Carthaginian. He was very knowledgeable about history, so I was confident in his application of my ‘nom de plume'.
Uncle Bud was the top salesman for a high end builder supply company, and traveled quite a bit during the day, and invited me to tag along with him for a couple of days. It was during some of these between call rides that the subject of finances came up, and I divulged that I would like to call my Dad so he could send me some money for a plane ticket home. I had budgeted for train fare as it was noticeably less expensive, but I had that clickety-clack from the railroad track coming out my ass, and wanted to fly home.
I called my Dad that evening expecting to be on a plane the next day, as I was tired of this trip and anxious to get to the summer job I had at Wilmington College . My Dad was always trying to teach me money management and life guidelines, and was always pleasant in his approach to it, but I was pretty pissed when he calmly told me that if I wanted to fly home, I better figure out some way to earn the money where I was. Uncle Bud could overhear the conversation and asked to speak to my Dad. I heard him say that he was sure he could get me a week's work with one of the contractor customers of his doing some manual labor.
This was on a Wednesday evening, and on Friday morning I went to work as a laborer for a carpentry sub-contractor building houses that was actually located six blocks from where I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle, so I could walk to work. Oh Boy! I worked 10 hours a day, that Friday and Saturday and all the following week thru Saturday and got paid enough at the end of that last day to get a cheap flight back to Dayton , Ohio . As soon as I got to my Uncle Buds house, I called and made the arrangements, and was in the air the next afternoon.
I slept all the way home from the airport, and as soon as I walked in the door, my Mother said “Oh look it's the Black Eyed Carthaginian”, home at last. Two days later, I went to Wilmington College to begin my summer job and complete the enrollment procedures and that was the end of my living with my own folks, signaling that I had finally left the nest.