Colorful Characters

Whenever my sister Lindy or I wondered out loud why our family was so different from other families, our dad would say

You are lucky. Other people have ordinary relatives who do ordinary things. You have an interesting family made up of colorful characters.

I guess Dad was right. Let me tell you about several of our colorful relatives.

Alcoa plantAunt Marty was my mother’s sister and she talked exactly like Minnie Mouse. She worked at Alcoa Aluminum on the switchboard and one of the perks of her job was calling long distance whenever she wasn’t busy. She spent a lot  of her day calling her many relatives. A conversation with her went like this:

Hi Abby, It’s Aunt Marty.  Hold On. (Long pause)

Okay, I’m back.  What’s new?  Hold on (Another long pause)

We’re doing fine.  Hold on (Long pause)

I have had two minute conversations with her that lasted thirty minutes. At one point, Aunt Marty found the switchboard area to be much too hot. After asking politely for a fan or some other relief, she wore her bathing suit to work! She stayed that way the whole day to make her point.

Tommy Dorsey, in The Fabulous Dorseys

My dad had several brothers and most of them were “colorful.” Uncle Kenny was a talented musician who played with Tommy Dorsey, and he was an outstanding chef.  He was in and out of minor scrapes and he usually got Dad to bail him out. One day, Dad was sitting in his office when he received a phone call from a near-by town.  Their country club was looking for a chef and Uncle Kenny had applied.

We just want your recommendation to hire your brother.

the president of the club told Dad.

Don’t hire him.

Dad said.

But he’s just made the best meal I have ever had.

the club president replied.

Well, he won’t stay.

my dad told him.  Despite Dad telling them not to hire Uncle Kenny, they did so. And not only that, one of the members signed a loan for him to get a car! A few weeks later, when both Uncle Kenny and the car were gone, the club president again called my dad’s law office.

Say, your brother left and he took the car we had signed for with him.  Would you want to pay for that car?

My dad just laughed and said

I told you not to hire him and now you know why.

Lindy and I called Uncle Kenny “the man of a thousand disguises” because he looked different each time we saw him.  He did a lot of crazy things; but of course, the craziest was to marry our mother and move with her to California.

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