Wednesday, April 3, 2013
I loved watching The Little Rascals when I was a kid. They were always getting into and out of trouble including fights with bullies. If the bully had the upper hand, he would make Spanky or Alfalfa cry out uncle before letting the kid off the ground or out of a head lock. (Much easier than getting free of a bully in today's age.)
Crying uncle may have its origins in the Irish word anacol which meant an act of mercy or quarter. Or it may have originated from a Latin expression used by kids who got into trouble: patrue mi patruissime which translates to "uncle, my best of uncles." Wherever the saying came from, it was still being used when I was a kid. Crying uncle might label you a wimp or loser, but it got you out of further hurt.
Something else from my growing up years - we were never allowed to call our aunts and uncles just by their first name - their names had to be preceded by the honorific aunt or uncle. Thinking about those relatives, I realized I didn't have any uncles related by blood - only by marriage to my aunts.
There was Uncle Howard (Roberts) married to Mom's older sister, Evelyn. I think this may be their wedding photo.
There was Uncle Alvin (Mitchell) married to Mom's younger sister, Lois. This photo was taken in 1935 when he was eighteen years old. Looks like my two Uncle Al's had similar tastes in hats.
And there was Uncle Al(bert) Childers, married to Dad's sister, Leona. This picture was taken October 12, 1959, the day they left on their move to Arizona. I think Grandma's crossed arms indicate her resignation to no longer having her daughter living just a few blocks away. Left to right: Grandma Bessie, Aunt Leona, Georgia, Frank, Donald and Uncle Al. (Photo credit to my brother Les for copying this picture from a slide and posting it on Facebook.)
There are few quotes about Uncles. One of the ones I like is: "Only the best brothers get promoted to an Uncle." Maybe that explains why I was never that close to any of my uncles - none of them started out as brothers in the family - they were all 'imported'. Of the three, my favorite was Uncle Howard. I still remember Ron and I spending a week at their place one summer. With their six kids and we two, their big table had ten of us around it at meal time. After we had eaten, Aunt Evelyn would begin clearing the table while Uncle Howard would light a cigarette and begin spinning a tale of what it was like when he was a kid.
When I think about it, his death was the only one of my three uncles I cried over. He died Easter Sunday, March 31, 1991 - twenty-two years ago this past Easter, March 31, 2013.