Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Uncle Jimmie

Cotton farming was hard, hot work, but it also afforded time to reflect on life  which Jimmie did a  lot.
My mother's favorite brother was my Uncle Jimmie.  I guess it's O.K. to say that out loud now since they are all gone now and it won't hurt anyone's feelings.  I doubt it would be a surprise to anyone anyway.

Jimmie was the closest in age to her and she idolized him.  I hate to say he was conceited, but he was definitely cocky.  In school he was a sportsman.  She told me she always stood behind a very tall man at track meets because she was afraid to watch in case he didn't do well.  He attended the University of Texas and played basketball and football.  He bragged to me that he was a hit with the girls--"I had good teeth and all my hair."  

He loved to tease and he always had a question or a puzzle intended to amaze and mystify.  By the time I became the object of his interest, he was a farmer and country philosopher.  He actually aspired to grander things: he loved to dance to Glenn Miller, Wayne King, and all the big band era musicians.  He taught me to dance.  When I was a senior in High School he agreed to teach all the kids who wanted to learn to dance.  

Glenn Miller was one of Jimmie's favorite conductors and  he taught me to dance to  the big  band music.
This came about because at the prom when I was a junior nobody danced.  The girls in the class conspired with me to have a dance every Friday night at the Community House.  He refused to do any of the arrangements--that was strictly up to us.  We reserved the building and borrowed records and a record player.  All Jimmie agreed to do was chaperon. He told us the boys would have to wear a coat and tie and we must have an admission fee.  

The most important rule was that if he ever saw or smelled any liquor, he was through.  We figured there was no chance the boys would even show up.  But they did, and they wore their best pants and sport coats and ties--it was great!  Admission was 25cents.  After a few weeks the quarters added up to enough to buy new records.  There was no Jitterbug and Rock hadn't been invented yet, but we all danced and learned manners about what was appropriate at a dance.  It just lasted that one year, but at the Prom in May everybody danced.

Jimmie influenced my life as long as he lived.  He was an example of integrity and honor that supported me in my marriage, with my children, and my life in the community.  When he was dying, I was privileged to visit often, cook for him and comfort him as much as possible.  I had the chance to tell him how much I valued the influence he had on my life.  That may have been the only time I ever saw him cry.

My memories still bless me and I still recall things my Uncle Jimmie said.

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