Monday, April 24, 2006

Uncle Arnie

I had an Uncle Arnie. Actually he was my Mother's Uncle. He was also my Grandmother's baby brother. But to us kids he was Uncle Arnie. When we were little he would take us down into his shop and show us all the PG rated gags and toys he had made recently. He had tree roots carved like old men, tables made of driftwood, banks that fell apart when you put coins in them, silly joke items that made fun of Norwegians, farmers, and Norwegian farmers. Uncle Arnie always had a joke or twenty to share. As we got older the more risque his jokes and toys got. For most of us the passage from childhood into adulthood was when Uncle Arnie decided that we were old enough to lift up the can that the little carved man was wearing for clothes to see what popped up.

Uncle Arnie gave me my first beer. My Dad and Uncle had let me have sips of their beer before. My Grandfather had let me lick the swizel sticks from his highballs for years. But Uncle Arnie was the first person to ever just pop the top off a bottle and hand me the whole thing. A couple hours later after showing me his handiwork of the last year and telling me his latest collection of jokes he handed me a couple breathmints and told me "If your grandmother finds out you've been drinking beer she better not find out where you got it." Grandma was a teetotaler. Showing up in her house with beer on my breath would have doomed both Uncle Arnie and I. She would certainly know who my supplier was, since the bars in town wouldn't serve a kid who was so obviously not over 18 years old.

Uncle Arnie loved woodworking. At least that's what he called it. Actually he just built things with his hands. He was a craftsman. He used driftwood, trash and scrap wood mostly. He never built fine furniture or museum quality pieces. But the things he built were all in demand by his family. Everyone wanted one.

Uncle Arnie is one of the reasons I got into woodworking. He was always so proud of the things he made. I wanted to be able to build things with my hands also.

Uncle Arnie liked to laugh. He loved jokes, verbal and visual. He loved Norwegian Jokes. I know some people claim that you shouldn't tell jokes making fun of anyone's race or nationality. But since Uncle Arnie was full blooded Norwegian he figured it was okay.

Uncle Arnie died a few years ago. He was one month short of 84 years old. Which ain't bad for a guy who drank way to much for way too long.

Since Uncle Arnie has passed on I kind of took it on myself to try and fill in for him. I can't even come close but I try to maintain Uncle Arnies sense of humor. I send many members of the family little joke gifts at Christmas. I also like to tell Norwegian jokes. I'm not full blooded Norwegian. But I've enough norwegian in me to get away with it.

Now, I told you this story so I could tell you the next one.

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