Last fall, Bossy began telling the story of her maternal grandparents using the vintage photographs that reside in a large wooden trunk at her mother’s house.
Bossy worked her way through their adolescence and a chunk of their young married life before other things got in the way—but Bossy is ready to pick up the narrative where she left off.
For those of you who may have forgotten the story or are new to this
fog blog, here is everything you need to know but have too much of a life to ask:
Bossy’s grandmother Bert was left on a doorstep as an infant—and that doorstep belonged to a crazy American Indian woman, and that doorstep was in a slum. That’s Bossy’s grandmother on the right. That’s the Crazy Old Woman in the middle—and to the left of her, the Crazy Old Woman’s crazy sister who has one pure white eyebrow and a pure white set of eyelashes. What a prize this
Meanwhile across town:
That’s Bossy’s grandfather Walt in the center flanked by his paternal grandparents who are raising him after Walt’s parents pursued one of the rare divorces of the early 1920s.
During his childhood, Bossy’s grandfather learns how to play the drums, and when not gigging around town with his homemade drum kit, he lobs eggs into crowds and hops freight trains to his elementary school where he stares out of barred windows, watching the construction of a steel suspension bridge and memorizing the feats of engineering.
Walt is full of life, and full of hell.
Meanwhile Bert’s situation becomes more desperate as her crazy caretaker—emphasis on the word taker with no care whatsoever—marries a shattered man with St. Vitus Dance and two threatening sons—and the whole crowd of them gets caught up in a series of evictions.
Walt meets Bert through his neighborhood buddies, and he falls instantly for this serious, beautiful girl who is sad, starving, and reading her way across the municipal library.
As their relationship grows, Walt scales the bricks of Bert’s row house to smuggle food through her bedroom window—but the Crazy Old Woman steals the food and dashes whatever remains of Bert’s hopeful spirit.
So Walt and Bert hatch a plan to marry after enough money is saved to allow for an apartment of their own. For months and months they squirrel away used linens and homemade furniture and on July 4, 1936 they get hitched in front of a small circle of family and friends, kicking the Crazy Old Woman and that whole mess of a life to the curb. For good.
Young married life is sweet despite the fact that the depression is on and Walt works a full time job and plays in a Big Band every night. Soon there is a baby, and that baby is nicknamed Dondi. She is Bossy’s mother:
As many of Walt’s friends go off to war, Walt becomes restless for an adventure. First he takes a job on the other side of the state, but Bert refuses to uproot a life she is finally growing into. They separate.
Walt soon realizes the error of his ways, and he and Bert reunite and carry on—until the next fork in the road: Walt has been offered work a half continent away, in Wyoming. This time Bert agrees to the scheme, and what proves acceptable is the fact that they will join their best friends in Wyoming, Bud and Mickey.
So they sell off everything they own, and throw a few pieces of luggage on top of the old Packard.
And when last we saw Bert she was scouting around the Casper Wyoming refinery job site with Walt, who never minds the No Trespassing signs.
Or any signs.
So that’s the Family Tree summary—minus a few carrier pigeons, a case of Poison Carbuncles, and one Italian mother-in-law chasing a car down Danenhower Street.
And so forth.
Actually, Bossy suggests you read the actual Family Tree archive here—and then see you in the left-hand column soon with a new… episode?