House much like Aunt Ader’s
Not understanding the nature of inebriation, I assumed Uncle Dunc, a great name for a drunk, was just playful when he laughed at all our jokes and fell off the high porch chasing us. No one bothered to explain for years that Dunc was a drunk. He was one of my mawmaw’s youngest siblings, younger than some of her own children. Her mother, Cynthia, was a scandal, having been twice divorced before she married John Miller. John only lasted long enough to father a daughter and twin boys in quick succession before dying of lead poisoning. He was shot in a bar fight, he was saved the heartbreak of his fickle wife’s abandonment. Presumably, his son Duncan was the bad apple that didn’t fall too far from either parental tree.
Aunt Lucille demeanor didn’t match Uncle Dunc’s. She was a dour, strait-laced woman not given to smiling, though it’s not likely she had much to smile about, considering her life with Dunc. She looked a lot like Smokey the Bear in a dress. I have never seen a woman more hirsute before or since. Her unibrow and mustache dominated her round face and coarse, black hair, resembling pubic hair covered her legs, though I had no knowledge of such a thing at the time. After a visit there, Daddy always warned against us girls against shaving our legs or we’d end up with legs like Lucille. I was far too young at the time to be aware of leg-shaving anyway, but I certainly didn’t want Smokey the Bear legs like that.
Most of the time when we visited Uncle Dunc’s place, many other Aunts, Uncles, and cousins were there. After dark, a propane lantern hanging on the big front porch cast a cone of light and dozens of cousins chased each other hysterically in and out of the shadows while parents visited in the cool of the front porch. Mamas rocked babies and put them down to sleep on pallets just inside the house where they could be heard if they squeaked. Sometimes there would be home-made vanilla, peach, or banana ice-cream made in hand-cranked freezers. The evening usually ended when exhausted kids were called in for ice-cream, but on the best nights, the old folks launched into deliciously terrifying ghost stories, made all the better because the teller believed them.
A few of my forty first cousins.
To be continued