The Christmas Reunion
Rednecks, Turkeys and Crazy OLE Uncle Hiram
It was one of those Magical Moments, Reba is on the stereo singing Jingle Bells, my sweet little Blonde has been baking pies for 3 days. I've got 100 blank family history sheets ready, 20 copies of my family printout in binders to sell at the family get together tonight and visions of a genealogical goldmine dancin in my head. I've got 40 family members coming over tonight and figure to get updates and info from all of them. Suddenly, the phone rings. I pick it up and say "Y'all got us, who are yew." And the nightmare begins. I hear that raspy voice say, "Hey Boy, this is Uncle Hiram, You know your grandpa's sister Mabel's husband. Just wanted you to know that me and the Mrs. is running a little late, we wont be there until about 5." All I can think to say is "OK".
Oh Lord Baby, you better put up the Good Jelly glasses, Crazy old Uncle Hiram is coming. Now don't get me wrong, I love old Hiram but this is the man who thought our Goldfish bowl was a great way to keep your fish bait fresh.
About 3 o'clock folks start showing up loaded down with fried chicken, potato salad, corn bread and pies. As they come in I give them a blank family sheet and ask them to fill out the stuff they know. I set up the camcorder and start interviewing the old folks about their memories and lives. Cousin Bobby Jean asks me about the family printout. So I explain, "Bobby Jean a lot of folks have asked me for copies of my research. I figured this would be the perfect time to spread it around. What I did was scan some of the old photo's I had, added some of the family history that I have discovered, and printed a copy of all of it along with a descendant register from FTM. I took that whole package down to the copy store and had them make 20 copies, bought some nice little binders and viola a family history for $5 a copy."
More folks show up, more food, oh great nanner puddin and Jell-O. Uncle Jimmy Don wants to know "why you want us to fill out these little forms, what are you some kinda revenoor?" (Sometimes having redneck relatives is a real adventure in tortured logic) No Unk, I am just trying to get all the names and dates right, and things like that. I mean after all you do want me to get it right don't ya? Cmon we all know you were in the army, but your grandkids wont know you fought in Vietnam if we don't tell them. "Alright but if them black helicopter start chasin me, I Gonna get you!" (Now I don't want yall to get the wrong ideal about Uncle Jimmy Don, he's been the Asst. Night Manager at the Dairy Queen for 12 years and that incident at the waffle house wasn't his fault, I don't care what the County Sheriff says.)
I run to the window and hear Uncle Hiram yelling "who put this dang dog house in the driveway." Hi Uncle Hiram, you parked in the front yard again instead of the driveway but that's OK, come on in. In comes "Crazy Old Uncle Hiram, almost 80 years old, half blind and carrying that nasty spit cup. "Uncle Hiram have a seat, we are all fillin out family histories and sharin our memories of our childhood."
"Well, I know yall all call me Crazy Uncle Hiram but let me tell you one thing. I can remember the old days. When I was born back in 19 and 19, Daddy was a farmer in Fayette County. I was born after Daddy got back from fighting the Germans, of course ifin he had dun it right, I wouldnt had to go back and finish the job in WW2."
For the next two hours our "Crazy" Uncle Hiram amazed us with stories of his childhood in the depression, fighting in WW2 and some of the odd jobs he had as a kid. He told us about the stories his daddy had told him when he was young about growing up in back woods Alabama at the turn of the century.
Well, another Adventure in Genealogy ends and another lesson learned. When getting ready for that family get together take plenty of blank forms. Put together a small family book and "Publish" it. Your family will love it and wont mind paying a small price to defray the costs or your research. You can get nice binders at any good office supply store for less than a dollar each and copies of your printout made for about 8 cents a sheet. You can put together a 60 page family history for about $5. Finally, Never dismiss any relative, no matter how old or "Crazy." Sometimes they can be a treasure trove of information, even if they do empty their spit can in your wife's Ivy Plant.
NOTE: I hate to admit it but most of this story is true. The family members I described are real but I changed their names to protect myself. They would have killed me. The "Character" Crazy Old Uncle Hiram described in this column became the basis for the Uncle Hiram Trayweek character that grew into the Nomocotton stories. Uncle Hiram is a real person and he is pretty much the way I described him in this story, But Hiram isn’t really his name.
Uncle Hiram was loosely based on my Father-In-Law LV Lunsford. We lost LV early last year. The rather wild humor that fills these columns and the associated Nomocotton Stories is not just mine, it is also borrowed rather liberaly from LV's stories.