Do you remember local eccentric characters from your childhood? What were they like?
As a young child I recall the family who lived next door to my aunt Cecilia. There was an old mother and a black cat, plus her two twin sons were still living with her. They were both craftsmen, plumbers, and they were both aged 52! Their names? Bill and Ben Pearson. A strange sort of set up but I got used to their comings and goings on bikes. Sad thing is, they often got drunk and when they did, I got to learn some quaint kind of English.
There was a woman from Romania, or some such country that looked like a Babushka in her scarf and strange dress! Her name was Anna but we called her Anna Banana! She walked around the school grounds staring at us through classroom windows! We were told she wad looking for her child who had died! We all cared for her!
Oh yes, when I was about four years old, my folks fell on hard times, and we lived for a little while on the main floor of a two-story house in a small South Dakota town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Upstairs lived a 30-something-year-old man named Dave, who was a goth before "goth" was a thing - dyed-black hair, eye makeup, nail polish, chains, candles, death and romance, the whole nine yards. Among other items of interest, Dave had an acoustic guitar, and he had a bright red parrot named Parry. I was never supposed to go upstairs to visit Dave, but when I did, he would always be sitting on the floor, smoking funny-smelling cigarettes and listening to vinyl records I couldn't understand. Dave never said much to me, and I never said much to him, but when I came to visit, Dave would pick up his guitar and start playing songs he'd written, and his parrot would sing the words. I never understood why my folks didn't want me to go upstairs to visit Dave... but I will never forget him or his singing parrot.
My maternal grandfather was one such person. He would write letters to friends/relatives in the old country--all in Slavic, which uses the Russian alphabet. One story about him was that when he was working the cash register for my uncle at his garage, Grandpa sometimes mistakenly gave out $20 bills as part of the change. One loyal customer told my uncle, "You'd better watch him."
My grandfather also loved to go to the Buckhorn Inn, the local bar owned and operated by my mother and her sisters. Everyone knew Joe as a shuffle board shark. No one could beat him. A neighbor confided with me, though, that he did beat him once. The neighbor admitted that Grandpa Joe was a force to be contended with.
A third story about Grandpa Joe was his practice about getting beer. My mother said he'd rub a little lard on the inside of his container. No matter how the bartender shook that container, the beer wouldn't foam, so Grandpa ensured his fair share of beer at purchase.
Anotherr character I remember was my next-door neighbor Russell Goedeke (GEH doh key).. By "next-door," I mean the nearest neighbor. We lived in a rural farm area. As a child, it took me about 15 minutes or so to walk to their house. Mr. Goedeke seemed to always be impatient and in a foul mood. His demeanor took its toll one day, and he lost his left hand trying to free the jammed hay in his baler. I never knew him with two hands. When he'd get angry, he'd waive that left-armed stump in the air. That left quite an impression on me. I can still see him standing and waiving that stump. May his soul rest in peace.
My elder brother was a third character from my childhood. He was always pulling practical jokes and soften any frustration with his wide, winning smile. I wrote about him when I first started here at Hub Pages. The article is no longer published, but I incorporated it into my first eBook through Book Country. John was a lot of fun. There was nothing too serious in life that he couldn't handle, except maybe the leukemia that took him at age 32. God bless him!
Such a cast of characters Marie, vividly portrayed. The image of Mr Goedeke with his stump is a strong one, I can see him now getting all frustrated about something rural and farm related. And old Joe from the east would slot neatly into any novel!!
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