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Old July 28th, 2001, 02:00 PM   #8
Terri
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Florida
Posts: 382
Why am I always the one saddled with family responsibilities? I grumbled and complained to myself as I continued to sort through Uncle Bill's "stuff." It made me mad that not one of my three sisters or brother could find time to help with this chore. I'm the typical middle child I concluded as I tossed another old shirt into a plastic bag bound for the Salvation Army.

As I remove the hangers from the old mans closet the cultural contrast of the decades become glaringly obvious. Here is the uniform of a dashing young Army Captain. I remember how Uncle Bill's World War II stories differ wildly from those of the other combat veterans in our family. Uncle Bill was stationed in Bombay, India and his stories were not ones of sacrifice and patriotic valor but of young Indian women smitten with a tall, blonde, curly haired Captain from America, palatial homes where he was a treated like a diplomatic VIP and endless parties with plenty of wine and indulgent food.

The tailored, creased wool trousers of a young businessman with a trim waist are hung on wooden hangers neatly in a row. Beside them are polyester leisure suits and one lone Nehru jacket that seems it was never worn. I begin to giggle, picturing my Uncle Bill dressed in the pale blue leisure suit accessorized with the white patent leather Elvis loafers on the floor of the closet.

Memories come flooding back to me now. We kids putting on plays and cavorting for Uncle Bill making him laugh. An Uncle Bill who although he had a Chevy Biscayne, chose to walk everywhere he went in his hometown of Baltimore. Many times as a young teen I bused over to his house and we would walk the five miles to Memorial Stadium to watch the Orioles play baseball. Walking back to his house I would whine and complain until we got to his neighborhood and he said "Let's stop at Bella Luna's for a slice of pizza." He would always let me have a drink of his beer.

Uncle Bill was a prodigious reader and his house contains thousands of books, hard and softcover. I begin to leaf through volumns with titles as varied as Anthony Adverse, Ten Little Indians, East of Eden, Milton's Paradise Lost. I come across a huge old World Atlas and tucked in between the pages and the back cover is the Society section of the Baltimore Sunday Sunpaper dated August 1945. The old newspaper contains a picture of that smiling young Army captain with a beautiful raven haired, blue eyed beauty on his arm. My Aunt Marge. It's their wedding announcement. Aunt Marge has been dead two years now and Uncle Bill a week. He spent the last twelve years of his life sequestered in a nursing home with his mind confused and his memory more faded than the old paper covers on most of these books. Another old newspaper clipping tells of his accomplishments as an employee of Anchor Hocking glass comapny. I set the old newspapers aside to keep. They meant something to him, so of all the chattels contained in this old Baltimore rowhouse those are the ones I keep for myself. They ignite special memories for me. Too bad my sisters couldn't be here.
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