Tom-Foolery

Kitchen tunks and parlor tunes…

Dear Rosa,

This I know you must’ve loved: the music of rural Vermont. Kitchen tunks and parlor tunes. Move the furniture aside and let the dancing begin. Bring a dish to share, a pint of the good brew and viist with the neigbors…

Summers are short in Vermont and busy. Planting, harvesting, putting up the jams and pickles. Nothing nostalgic about the life you led – it was survival come snow season.

It’s a long, brutal winter we have. Starts late October, doesn’t let up until early May. Once the canning is done, the wood’s put up and deer season’s passed, it’s time to relax by the fire and visit with the neighbors.

If your kitchen wasn’t big enough to hold them all, there was always the Grange Hall. That was were my uncles played.

Just look at them – full of the devil and just itching to take on life. The youngster on the left is my Uncle Everett. Continued to play throughout his life until the alcohol ruined his eyesight and his hands shook too much.

He could play anything, Suss, my dad said, was a concert violinist. A damn shame about the drinking…

Everett was always the poor one of the family-  the black sheep, but smart. He was an inventor and held patents. So why did he end up dead before his time? Another victim of the horrific memories of the Great War?

Earle’s fourth from the right. Played fiddle with this group – called the dances in the 1920’s. He also played guitar on the Ticonderoga – the largest steam boat that floated on Lake Champlain. Wish I could say I liked him more. But I didn’t. Don’t know many that did.

Arrogance is a trait that leaves me cold. I never existed to him, never mattered. I don’t remember him ever calling me by name or asking me how school was going. Just as well, I liked him less than he liked me.

Drank bourbon in his coffee when he came to visit Gram. Sat there like the pompous ass he was and challenged my dad to best him.

Henry, he’d say, take a look at my new Cadillac. Got it yesterday. What are you driving these days?

Dad would duly oblige and goggle at his sweet ride. Didn’t respond to Earle’s provocation – Earle knew damn well we were driving the same ’69 Chevy Impala we’d been driving for umpteen years.

Didn’t want’ to go to Earle’s funeral. The man was a right bastard and as far as I was concerned, his death meant nothing to me. But my husband understood. He knew other’s in the family would be there – Lilah, Hiram and Rae, others I might never see again. He was right, still it rankled…

I’m glad they spread their music, though, glad they had a moment of joy and shared that with others. Life was hard for both of them, yet for this one frozen moment, they were happy, young and carefree.

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4 thoughts on “Kitchen tunks and parlor tunes…

    1. so is forgiveness I’m finding. It’s not so much for the one that’s wronged you, but for your own well being.

      I still hate Earle, still remember his arrogance and how mean he was to my dad. Forgiveness is coming slowly…

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