Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Visitors

It was always one of my favorite times during the summer when my cousins would come visit.  I was a little too young to remember when Big Wayne (my brother Larry Wayne was little Wayne) came to live with us for the summer but there were others like Stanley (Wayne Patterson's brother) and Sunny which is my Uncle Olie's son from Minnesota.  But there were the weeks when entire families would come and stay. By the way Larry Olsen is big larry and Larry Olson is little Larry, just so you can be confused a little more.

Uncle Phil Olson and family would come from El Centro,California.  There were three kids and it was always fun to hear about what they did in California.  Gary, Phyllis and Warren were the kids.  The boys wrestled in school and always seemed to have big stories but it was just fun to take them fishing on the creek and swimming in the pond.  I don't know what they thought of it but it was a break from normal for me.  It always seemed like they came around Fourth of July so fireworks were a big part of what we did.  They seemed to go crazy with all the freedom of being on the farm.  They wanted to learn to drive tractors and cars and shoot guns and anything else we could think up.

Then there was Uncle Stack Olson and their kids from Anoka, Minnesota.  Again they had three (David, Catherine and Lee Roy).  Now they were a little different than my California cousins in that they loved the outdoors and participated in it growing up in Minnesota.  They knew more about fishing and they would tell us about fishing for walleye and other fish we just did not have.  What always amazed me was they told us the fish we caught were about the size of bait for walleye.  The biggest fish I had ever seen was a catfish caught in Tanny Olsen's pond which weighed 16 pounds.  Now I heard many of my cousins on the Lane side who had caught catfish in the Caney River weighing a lot more but I never saw one growing up.  In fact the biggest fish I caught except one was about 6 or 7 pounds and it was a bass.  Of course now I have to tell you that I caught a sword fish weighing over 175 pounds and 9 feet long while in Hawaii.  My wife claims it because it was on her line but I reeled it in.

Well there was one other uncle that would come to see us on the farm and that was Uncle Ollie Olson and his wife and son.  His son was Sunny and he was much older than me but a lot of fun.  He actually lived with us for one summer but the thing I remember most about him was he loved the outdoors and loved us but it was his bicycle that amazed me.  He had a bicycle that he told me about which was required to have a head light and a license plate.  I just could not believe he had to have a license plate for a bicycle but he lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Anyway it may be unfair but Uncle Ollie was my favorite and it was probably because Dad and he were best friends growing up and Dad told me gobs of stories about Uncle Ollie.  He also loved to come to my baseball games and he spent time teaching me how to fish and even how to gamble.  Yes, gamble.  He and I would sit together at the baseball games at Phillips Park and bet on everything you could imagine.  We would bet on the next pitch or whether the batter would get a hit and just about anything you can imagine.  For some reason I seemed to win more than my fair share and he would just laugh and go along.  The most amazing thing to me was how strong he was and how deep his voice was plus his laugh.  Dad told me how Uncle Ollie could carry seven sacks of cement.  A sack of cement in those days was 94 pounds, go figure.  I don't know why but every year when they would go home about a week or two later we would receive a box in the mail.  It was filled with gifts for all of us.  Every year there was at least one gift of some type of fishing lure.

Now I don't want to give you the idea that everything was perfect but the great thing in life is we can choose to remember the best or concentrate on the negative.  Personally I don't have the time or energy to deal with the bad but having company from all over the country coming to see you each summer was a highlight.  I got to meet my relatives and learn about their lives and most of all I listened to the brothers share stories of growing up on their family farm.  Strangely enough there were five brothers and the last three passed away within about 60 days in 2002.  They all served in the military during WWII.  Can you imagine what their mother was going through?  and how about their dad?

So what do you learn in the Osage?

  • A vacation can be staying at home and enjoying folks coming to see you
  • Family is more important than getting more stuff
  • Choose the best in people and concentrate on their strengths
Thanks for your time
gary@thepioneerman.com

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