REFLECTIONS

REFLECTIONS

Physical Fitness

My great uncle Willie was ahead of his time even if everybody who knew him thought he was strange. The oldest brother of my dad’s father, Uncle Willie stayed in a little shack behind my grandparents’ house in Bogalusa. That South Louisiana community across Pearl River from Mississippi was a long way from my hometown of Springhill. We usually made the all-day drive once a year over crooked two-lane roads for brief visits with my dad’s folks. Those jaunts invariably included momentary encounters with Uncle Willie. He would appear out of nowhere, toss a handful of peppermint sticks toward the kids and retreat to his backyard shanty. There was a little bedroom and bathroom in a back corner of my grandparents’ sprawling wood frame house. Uncle Willie came in late at night, slept there and left before daylight. He never joined us for meals, but my grandmother always left him a plate of food on the kitchen counter. It would disappear without us ever seeing Uncle Willie coming or going. Despite our curiosity about him as youngsters, we were never offered any information on Uncle Willie’s personal life, work history or other circumstances of his unusual existence. Kinfolks who lived around there and knew Uncle Willie just referred to him as “eccentric.” I told my friend Tom Murchison about Uncle Willie. He said there was an unconventional uncle like that in his family, and people called him “peculiar” instead of eccentric. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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