Friday, January 20, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 19th Installment

Drive - A Memoir 19th Installment

would ride home in the ‘bomb bed’ of the bomb carrier, the box behind the driver’s seat. Riding in this military vehicle was fun but we knew little to nothing about the military and absolutely nothing about war. Vernon was classified as II–C (men necessary to farm labor) and the military draft didn't recruit him into the war so he couldn't tell war stories for our education or delight. Phil, our mother's brother did go to war and came back somewhat mentally damaged by the horrors of killing; he told very few stories about the war.
Phil lived out his last years of life mostly in our farm house. When he wasn't living with us, he lived in the canal company's pump house. He was the ditch rider enforcing the user’s rules and patrolling the canal banks looking for problems and water thieves. When he wasn't on the canal working, he was at the Hamer store and bar playing cards; when he wasn't drinking and playing cards, he was reading. Phil was a big but slim man, always looking stern, to the point of looking sour. We were a little scared of him (especially when he was drunk) in a 'He's going to lose his patience and yell angrily in our faces' kind of fear.
       “Let's play some Bridge,” he would suggest almost every night he stayed with us, putting down the one thousandth book he was reading. He had read every book Vernon and Edith owned, every book the neighbors gave him, and all the books in the Hamer store. He would even read every Readers Digest book section and most of the encyclopedia set. “Vernon and Edith will play and I need one of you boys as a partner,” he would say glaring at us. Game playing in our family was intense, especially in the dark cold winter months with no other outlet for excitement on a quiet night. When we were little we played checkers, Sorry, Monopoly, and Chinese Checkers for fun (Edith loved Chinese Checkers). When we grew a little older we played games like Chess and card games like Seven–Up and Hearts. We were taught to play hard but fair; we were pushed to play better, making few mistakes, and expected to win even against adults. Still older, we moved to Pinochle and Whist, games that were a lot more difficult with complex scenarios and much more to memorize. Russ and I played with intensity and the ethic we had for work and a friendly competitiveness. Then next on the progression of difficulty was the ultimate mind game – Contract Bridge!
        “I don't know how to play Bridge.” I would always complain.
        “You do too!” Phil scowled.
        “Not your kind of game; you're a chess kind of Bridge player, and I’m a checkers kind of Bridge player,” I would argue. I meant it; the game was too serious to my way of thinking. The fun would soon wane and the take–no–prisoners
500 more words tomorrow

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