Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 11:03 pm
Letters From Down Home #1

Dear Uncle Caleb;

We just got your letter. Lawn sakes! That moss sure does grow quick in your neighborhood. I hope you find your power mower soon, Uncle Caleb. Ma says thanks for the photographs of your trip. Who would ever have thought that a tour of toxic waste dumps could be so interesting?
I've got some sad news about our neighbor, Vera Hansen. You remember her. Us kids always played in the woods behind her house. She kept gettin' after us about the fires we lit. We didn't like her much then; but, y'know, I can't really blame her. She had a right to complain, especially the time when we burned up her laundry.
Anyhow, I don't know if I wrote you about this or not, Uncle Caleb, but last year her doctor told her she had this rare disease and might die unless she had an operation. Well, when she found out that a lot of people die just from the operation and some people get better without any treatment at all; sufferin' surgeons! You can imagine. She simply couldn't decide what to do.
She came to visit us about that time. I'll tell you. She was in a blue funk. She kept asking Ma, "What would you do, Pansy? What would you do?" It was sad. Our hearts just went out to her. Of course, Ma said the same thing like she says to everybody; "Vera, take your mind off of things for a while," Ma says, "Go shopping."
Sure enough, a few days later, Vera is in a bookstore at the mall, looking for books on her favorite topic, amphibious cooking. Those were some picnics she used to have for the neighborhood; remember, uncle Caleb? Well, fry my frogs! All of a sudden she spies this book by some East Coast egghead Doctor of some such named Neo Logist called If it Works, Don't fix it. So, she buys it and takes it home.
I've seen that book, Uncle Caleb. That Logist fellow is so practical and clever. Vera read it cover to cover. Then she decided; and sutures be praised! She figured that as long as she felt OK, she would postpone the operation and enjoy life.
Newts alive! What a change in that woman. Why, her whole personality seemed to radiate happiness. Last summer she had two small picnics and then a real pollywhopper for Labor Day. She even enrolled in a scuba-diving course.
Oh, but here comes the awful part, Uncle Caleb. You remember how dedicated she was to amphibious cooking. That's why she wanted to learn scuba diving. Well, last week she went on a field trip and got eaten by a giant squid. It's so hard to fathom. We're so sad.
Well, that's about it, uncle Caleb. Betty Lou got an 'A' in wood shop. Zeke's doin' OK too. The weather's been cold, so we've got the home fires burnin'.
Bless you, Uncle.
Your favorite nephew,
Willie Bob
P.S. Ma says "Hi"

Other stupid stuff by Neo:
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Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 08:08 am
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Reply Wed 4 May, 2005 08:10 am
Well my old dog died today
And left me all alone
The Finance Company
Came by today
And repossessed my home
But that's just a drop in the bucket
Compared to loosin' you
And i'm down to seeds and stems again too . . .

Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, Seeds and Stems Blues
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 03:54 am
Neo - If you want to really be authentic, this should be "land sakes" or even "lan' sakes" or "Lawdy sakes" instead of "lawn sakes". Take it from a southern girl - you got the rest of it pretty good though. I like that the mom was named Pansy. That was a good touch.

Setanta - I can't believe you quoted Commander Cody. Remember this one:

Hawaii blues, Hawaii blues
I can almost feel the sand in the side of my shoes
Hawaii Blues
When the sun comes up
On the deep blue sea
I'll be something (forgot the words) with my baby
In Waikiki
Hawaii Blues.

I'm gonna go see if I can download it. Thanks for the memory.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 08:47 am
"Lawn sakes" is my pathetic attempt to call attention Uncle Caleb's backyard woes. I had in mind a series of such letters by Willie Bob, but I have trouble maintaining the voice and the vernacular. Thanks for the down home input. I was born in New Jersey, so I don't know much.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 10:03 am
Neologist - where in Jersey? I was born in Texas and raised by two Texans and then went to college in North Carolina - so I've picked up quite a lot of southern vernacular - but I grew up primarily in East Brunswick, NJ.
No, for real - I thought you did a great job on it - I would never have pegged you as being from Jersey. Just all that nice, conversational, gossipy tone - you hit it on the head.
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Reply Sun 8 May, 2005 10:50 am
I was born and raised in Ridgefield with a short interlude in Braintree, MA when I was 10 or 11. I haven't been back to NJ in over 30 years. My folks died and the brothers are spread all over the country. But I would like to go back, maybe, I guess.
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