In the beginning
I offer this prelude to my stories kind out of order. I thought it might be kind of fun to write my preconceptions of what got me to where I am. Right or wrong, here's my story and I'm sticking to it.:
Who could write a story about themselves without telling a few tales of their relatives that helped create this screwed up gene pool that is called family? Perhaps it is unfair to blame them for the entire crew that followed, but they aren’t here to sue so why not blame them for some of the madness that is called normal behavior. After all, heredity means that you inherited from them so why should we be solely held accountable for all the aberrant behavior.
On my mom’s side of the family, they claim to have traced the family name Lee back to Good Old Robert E. and company. I hold no stock in that as most anyone with Lee in their name claim to be related to that family and they deserve some peace. Hell, the Civil War he fought was 150+ years ago. There was also a Hazen in the family, which is the name for a Cantor in the Jewish church. Again, I don’t have a clue what is true but I threw it in just to make the story sparkle. You did have to pay for this did you? If you did, thank you if you are just reading this and I don’t get any money,
One of the stories Mom likes to tell is that my great grandfather on her side was a teamster working on the railroad. He drove a team of oxen and helped prepare the rail bed as the railroad moved west. Somewhere in Colorado he met the boss’s daughter, Nona Hazen, and they got married. The story goes that Nona would deliver the noon meal out to the workers and after staring at the rear end of a horse team all day she must have been a sight for sore eyes. Now don’t get me wrong, she might have been a living doll but in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado anything would have been better than staring at the posterior of a team as you leveled rail bed for the railroad.
The real family fun started when my mother’s widowed mother, Erma, met and married Curly Fruits. I tell you that no couple currently alive could have had as much fun as Erma and Curly Fruits had in their lifetime. Curly grew up working for Shell Oil in Kansas. His final job was to be in charge of the oil leases in and near Susank, Kansas. For the record that is north of Hoisington, Kansas northwest from Wichita. Mom said they lived near McPherson Kansas for a while but I don’t remember that. I first remember about 50+ years ago when they lived in Susank.
As oil field workers, the oil people in Susank believed in hard work and hard play. The hard play included a lot of Hard Liquor and a fair share of beer. Unfortunately, the play also included a lot of driving and a fair share of hunting. It is only a miracle that most of us survived creation in that gene pool. OK, I remember now, he was my step-grandfather so he only shaped the environment not the genetics of the family. We are even luckier that we did not end in a drunken crash or a hunting accident caused by something or someone that was loaded. There was more singing and playing with that crew than any other group I have been associated with including the Barber Shoppers. If it weren’t some kind of hunting season, we would go out and shoot clay pigeons. For the most part my shooting was limited to a .410 shotgun or a .22.
On my dad’s side of the family there is as much misinformation but not near as much fun. There was a bunch of them that worked in the Auto Industry near Flint Michigan but I never went there or met them when I was old enough to remember any of them. Somehow the record shows the family name as Petty (Oops, wasn’t going to use that but what the heck it’s out of the bag now). For most of my life I have harbored a hatred of anything French. A third cousin of my Dad’s now tells us that our first family member on that side of the family to come to America was a frog named Petit. In French that name is pronounced “Pe-ti” so the guy at Ellis Island gave us the name Petty. Oh well, there was a fair mixture of Boggs, Hazen and Perkins and other names to dilute that one bit of French blood. I doubt that I’ll ever venture into France soon so no matter.
I have heard stories about my dad’s father who died before I was born. In most of those stories he was a funny guy that set a record for having the most different jobs in a lifetime. He was a sign painter by trade and by the nature of that work he moved from job to job a lot. I have several oil paintings he painted and they tend to be primitive in a lot of ways and yet I enjoy looking at them. I did meet my paternal grandmother and know that there isn’t one shred of her personality in my body. I love to laugh and enjoy life and she was a hard ass by nature. I never heard her say anything that didn’t sound like an order or a whine that she didn’t get her fair share. She was more negative by accident that most of us could be on purpose.
I can’t even begin to tell you about all the sides of my dad. He was manic Depressive or Bi-polar and seemed a lot crazy to a little guy just trying to grow up “normal.” He could be the most generous man or the meanest som’bitch in the same day and none of it made any sense to me. If he said come here boy you couldn’t tell if you were going to get kissed or whipped. Throw in a lot of beer and you had better call it the way he acted rather than behavior. Behavior has a connotation that it would be normal and normal he wasn’t. I just did my best to avoid him as much as possible. There were a few good fights early on in life but I won the last one and he left me alone to fend for myself. We had a few good years near the end of his life but by then I was well beyond his influence.
I think it was my mother that helped me the most growing up. She was a big woman that seemed to have enough hug for us all. When the “Earth Mother” hugged you, you got hugged all over. She could laugh and she could cry but mostly she made sense when little else did. I think we all did our best at the end of her life to try to pay her back for all the good things she meant to us.
For now, I won’t pick on my brother and sisters. They were just along for the ride in my journey and other than Myrna teaching me to read early probably didn’t have too much bearing on how I turned out. Or at least I won't attribute blame on them for my faults.