Friday, June 29, 2007

Dad's stories

Dad didn't know I was going to post this, but I don't think he'd mind. He's been writing down stories of relatives he remembers, and it's so fun to read. My family and I love to sit and listen to Papa Don tell stories about growing up, people he knew, relatives, etc. Here's his latest:

UNCLE ARTHUR

I didn’t know him that well and when I did begin to be aware of him and who he was, he was well into his forties. He was tall, dark, and a quiet man and was married to Aunt Clarise, and had been ever since any of us could remember. Together they had one son, his nick name was “Tuffy.” Tuffy was not as tall as his dad, but was a strong, muscular, athlete. During World War II he was a tail gunner in one of the “Flying Fortresses.” But, he is not the one about which I wanted to talk. It was Uncle Arthur that is supposed to be the center of attention here. He was my Dad’s half brother. He was the third child of my Grandfather’s first wife. Her name was Mina Aloura and she died shortly after giving birth to Uncle Arthur. That posed only a small problem. The woman who was to become his second wife, and my Grandmother already lived in the house with them. Her name was Maud Echo. So as soon as was deemed socially acceptable, Granddad and Grandmother Ledbetter got married. Why? According to Grandmother she didn’t want anyone to raise Arthur but her. And that was the way it was.
Uncle Arthur reached the age of eighteen years shortly after World War I began. He volunteered and went off to boot camp to train for whatever roll they deemed best for him. It turned out, he was one tough cowboy. He could ride anything with hide and four legs. They set him to breaking and training horses for military use. There was not too many mechanized vehicles at that time. When the Army talked about a Calvary Division, they really meant Calvary, like in horses and mules. The Army bought the raw and even wild stock, because they would be cheaper, and it was Uncle Arthur’s job to see that they were ready for use when the superior officer called.
On one occasion, my Dad got to watch his older brother perform. Some of the stock would give up without much of a fight, but then there were some jug heads that would fight to the bitter end, only giving up after hours of the most physical engagement you can imagine. That happened on the day Dad got to observe his brother “in action.” If my memory serves me correctly, it was a mule he was working with, a large, strong creature that stood quiet and still until his restraints were removed. He would then launch into a low altitude orbit of some of the most intense action you could ever imagine. Dad said Uncle Arthur rode that beast until blood was running out of his nose and ears, and yet he still hung on and maintained his balance on the hurricane deck, as their saddle was called. And like he thought, soon enough, the animal would give in, and Uncle Arthur could pass on another valuable creature to the one who would train him to serve our country.
My point is this, what Uncle Arthur was doing was teaching these dumb animals the true meaning of meekness. The horse or mule just a few minutes before was wild and undisciplined. Now their will was broken, and subjected to the one who would be his master. He was just as strong as before, just as fast as before, only now he had learned “meekness.” That is, the strength of the animal was brought under control so he could serve a useful, practical, and necessary roll in the military. That’s what meekness is and does for you and me. We are still just as strong, intelligent, emotional, and even just as spiritual, only now our strength is under the dominion of our dear Lord. Now we say, not my will but thine be done. Now we are useful for eternal work, we are useful for God’s work.

Don in Georgetown

2 comments:

Carmi said...

You've done a great thing here, Stacy. Preserving a family's oral history is so, so important, and is something that sadly isn't done too often in this day and age.

Which is odd, given the incredible tools that we have at our disposal to do just that. Thankfully, you've taken the time.

My dad's name is Arthur, BTW. I couldn't help but smile at the coincidence as I read the piece.

Trey said...

Now I know where you get your story telling and writing from. I love listening or reading old family stories.