My mother and her siblings were the children of poor Irish immigrants. As was the case with most immigrants, they struggled to survive every day.
The onset of the depression made a difficult situation much, much worse. Every minute presented unique challenges to simply stay alive.
As was the case with many depression era kids, great character was forged. For my mother and her siblings, that character exhibited itself in many ways.
First and foremost, they were incredibly tight. Three lived close by and the other two were a phone call away.
Secondly, they were charismatic. They had the power to spell bind and enchant you. As it is with many Irish, they possessed a remarkable sense of humor and gift of gab, but in differing degrees. Mom was more reserved, but Uncle Paul would chat up a can of beans.
They also respected the human dignity of everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a Queen or a coal miner, a president or a pauper. All were treated the same.
And they had a passionate love of everything. Billions of flowers, rock collections, doll houses, books, animals, and especially birds. Ah yes. Birds.
This is where we finally get to the title. You see, Uncle John had a big problem.
Standing, professor like, at his kitchen picture window, Uncle John would point to the patio. With Aunt Charlotte cheerfully chipping in, Uncle John gruffly explained that the bird feeder and the clothesline intersected. A squirrel would dance across the clothesline, trash the bird feeder, eating all the bird seed and terrorizing the little birds. As a result, the birds stayed away and the bird seed costs skyrocketed.
Perhaps, you say, Uncle John should move the feeder or the clothesline. But Uncle John had an unshakeable belief that everything had its place, from his beloved fishing poles to the items in his glove box. Moving the feeder or the clothesline was out of the question.
Fast forward a month or two. Back to Uncle John’s kitchen. What is this! Do we have a solution to the squirrel problem?
Uncle John has now strung two liter Pepsi bottles across the clothes line. Which causes the squirrel to go spinning and flying off the clothesline on to the ground.
Then the squirrel figure things out, as squirrels often do. He’s soon back to slam dunking the bird feeder.
Time for plan B. Executing the squirrel is out of the question. Uncle John has another idea. Capture the squirrel and release him into the wild, far far away.
So Uncle John deploys a have a heart trap, captures the squirrel, and drives him to a new home in the enchanted forest.
But I wondered, darkly, would the squirrel find its way back to Uncle John’s house and exact revenge? Would Uncle John have to sleep with one eye open?
Uncle John and Aunt Charlotte and probably the squirrel are long gone now. I realize that everybody has to go but a big part of me wishes they were still here.
God, I miss them.