.... I mentioned a week or so ago that I had been enjoying sifting through old family photos with my Mother to try to find nice gifts for my Aunt who had lost her house in a fire....well, a few of those proverbial chickens have come back home to roost.....

.... in the course of selecting photos, I ran across quite a few where I had no clue as to who the photos were of... so, I bundled them up in a nice manila envelope and sent my Mother off with instructions to find out dustiest surviving ancestor to see if she knew anything about the people in the photos.... and all I can say is, be careful what you wish for..... here's the conversation - as best my Sainted Mother could remember it - as she relayed it to me a few days later over the telephone....

Momma: Lilace, I would like for you to look at these photos, if you don't mind.
Lilace: Certainly, dear, it would be my pleasure.
Momma: (handing the envelope of photos to Lilace)
Lilace: Well! Glory be! Now, would you just look at that!?
Momma: Hmmm? What? Oh, the photos from the graveside? I figured that must have been when Grandma Martha died, right?
Lilace: Oh, no, dear. This is a photo from the burial of my first son in 1937. See? There's Ida and Cheadle, and the rest of my brothers and sisters, and there's Willard. He was Willard and my first, you know. Only lived a couple of days.
Momma: Oh. I'm so sorry.
Lilace: (dumping the contents of the envelope into her lap.)
Momma: Do you mind if I make myself a glass of iced water? Do you want anything?
Lilace: No, honey, I'm fine.

Lilace: Well, will you look at THIS! It's Ollie! Your Father's eldest brother! Just look how handsome he looks in that suit!
Momma: That's Uncle Ollie in a suit? Where on earth did he get a suit from?
Lilace: Oh! He ran your Granddaddy's livestock business once he died. Your Father was just little when his Daddy died. And after his Mother died a few years later, your Father came to live with my Momma and Daddy back in Hiwassee.
Momma: I knew that he lived with Aunt Ida and Uncle Cheadle, but why didn't his big brother take care of him?
Lilace: Oh, honey, he was in jail at the time his Momma died, and as soon as he got out of jail he and his family lit out for Oregon.
Momma: Wow, I knew that he moved out to Oregon in the early 40s. But why Oregon? I've always wondered about that.
Lilace: Well, he was afraid of the ocean.
Momma: Afraid of the ocean? Then why move all the way from Tennessee to the west coast?
Lilace: I guess it was as far away as he could get from Tennessee without braving a boat to take him further.
Momma: Lilace, if you don't mind me asking, *ahem, why did Uncle Ollie want to get as far away from Tennessee as he could?
Lilace: Well, you know how all of your Daddy's kinfolk liked to drink, right? Well, one night the bigger boys were all sitting around drinking and talking - your Father was only about ten or twelve at the time - Ollie's Father-in-Law said something that Ollie took offense to, and Ollie hit him with an axe and killed him.
Momma: Good GOD!
Lilace: Yeah, well, you know how they get when they've been drinking. Anyway, they locked Ollie up for manslaughter for a few years. Evidently he didn't really mean to KILL his Father-in-Law, so everyone figured it was just some sort of accident. And as soon as he got out of jail, he grabbed his wife, his children, his Mother-in-Law, and they all skedaddled for Oregon.
Momma: Wait. He killed his wife's Daddy with an axe while in a drunken rage, and his wife & her Mother moved with him out to Oregon?
Lilace: Yep.
Momma: Wow
Lilace: Evidently the womenfolk figured that the old man had it coming. But Ollie wasn't one for waiting around to see what his Brothers-in-Law thought of the situation.
Momma: I'll bet.
Lilace: (holding the photo up to the light to get a better view) Good old Ollie. He sure does look nice in that suit and tie, doesn't he?
Momma: Yes, ma'am, he sure does. Almost makes it hard to believe that he's an axe-murderer, doesn't it?
Lilace: Awwww, honey, I'm sure it was an accident. Besides, they'd all been drinking.......

..... good God, Almighty..... honestly, you can't make this shit up, folks......

... and hey, the trick to GREAT genealogy is to wait around until your old relatives get just old enough to still remember, and just old enough to not give a shit about the waves they make.... because that is when all the really good family skeletons get unceremoniously unearthed.... heh.... Uncle Ollie the axe-murder...... I swear, my ancestors astound me....

by Eric on September 01, 2010 | Bullshit (10) | TrackBack (0) | SWG Stories
Bullshit So Far

Dang. I'm hearing strains of 'Do you think I'm sexy" on the bagpipes running through my head.

Bullshitted by Bou on September 1, 2010 08:53 PM

See? That's what so great about having a Southern lineage. Most folks would try to bury that little piece of info.

But not us. Instead of locking the crazy folk in the attic, we send them to the fourth grade Christmas play and let them sing in the choir at church.


Bullshitted by Andy on September 1, 2010 10:38 PM

I think Andy nailed it. Holy crap, I can't quit laughing. I keep going through my family stories, and dang, I can't match that one.

There are so many classic lines, "Besides, they'd all been drinking..." as if it makes ANYTHING ok. LOL! And then of course, I have to wonder, what kind of SOB his FIL was that the wimmin' folk closest to him, his wife AND daughter, 'figured he had it coming'. GAH! Seriously, you can't make this shit up.

Bullshitted by Bou on September 2, 2010 05:59 AM

Toby's great-grand-dad came to TX because he committed some crime east of the Mississippi. It may be the reason lots of folk came West. Speaking of West, I have some pretty crazy stories from teaching in northern NM of locals drinking, fighting, killing each other, etc, but no one seemed to mind as long as they were family or friends. But let some "outsider" come in, and things changed pretty quick.

Bullshitted by Lou on September 2, 2010 07:01 AM

Families can get pretty squirrely about revealing those deep dark secrets.

I happened to mention to my sister that our paternal grandfather had been previously married before he married our grandmother.

Of course, Sis went straight to Mom for confirmation, and the shit well & truly hit the fan.

Man, you would have thought I'd crawled on the dining room table during Thanksgiving dinner and whizzed in the gravy boat with all the feather-ruffling and squawking that came my way!

Apparently, it's OK for Mom to discuss my entire medical history with complete strangers, but God forbid you ever mention D-I-V-O-R-C-E...

Bullshitted by El Capitan on September 2, 2010 01:07 PM

My great uncle on my father's mother side had an interesting life. He never talked about it much till he was in his seventies but layed it all out when the local newspaper interviewed him around memorial day because he was a WWI vet. He went into combat in the spring of 1918 and fought through till the armistice. Was in the army of occupation in Germany for another eight months and ended up hating the army because they were inadeqately fed and nearly froze to death in the winter of 1918-19. He was finally mustered out and came home to Tennessee and farmed till the depression hit. Since it would mean one less mouth to feed, he hit the road and hoboed all over the west till the late 30's. He went to work for Boeing in Washington St. spent WWII working as a machinest. Made enough money that he came back to Tennessee, bought a farm, got married, and settled down for good.
I thought it was cool, an early life that relate to John Steinbeck. My grandmother, on the other hand, was highly scandelized by her brother's relating his younger years and wouldn't speak to him for months after the article was published. Go figure.

Bullshitted by Tbird on September 2, 2010 08:04 PM

Ok, There is way too many funny things going on here... "you would have thought I'd crawled on the dining room table during Thanksgiving dinner and whizzed in the gravy boat with all the feather-ruffling and squawking that came my way" baw hahahahaha... or better yet "no one seemed to mind as long as they were family or friends."... oh, my cheeks hurt. Though Bou's expression when I told her about the smother with a pillow that went on many generations back in my family... I did forget to mention it was done to inherit money. Trying to figure it out because no in my family has money... wonder where it all went.

Bullshitted by vw bug on September 2, 2010 08:50 PM

Ahhh, the things I learn on the Inter-Webby-Net...

"...well, you know how they get when they've been drinking..."

Can't wait for the next Hysterics at Eric's. 'Cause you know how we get...

(never mind the axes - hide the shovels and guns)

Bullshitted by Elisson on September 4, 2010 01:02 PM

OMG! I never know what I am going to learn from you Eric... Ha! I am so sending this link to my cousin Inga - our family genealogist... She needs to step up her game!! :)

Bullshitted by Richmond on September 6, 2010 12:36 PM

Wonderful family story and so well told young man. I believe it...because "Truth is stranger than fiction". My Dad was over 80 when my mum and the rest of us learned "post-anaesthetic recovery" that he was about 7 when a shotgun was "dropped" in a fatal accident involving the child of a farm worker. Scary stuff indeed.

Bullshitted by John C on September 8, 2010 12:36 PM