No idle hands allowed here

Everybody needs to have a hobby — something they do just for fun. olivia6-25 Page 4A.indd[cointent_lockedcontent]Uncle Walter and Aunt Annie Bea both believed firmly in the importance of recreational pursuits and practiced what they preached.

Now, Uncle Walter actually had many hobbies and was versatile in his activities. He spent a lot of time coming up with different ways to rig things to make them work. He was a teller of tall tales and had a credulous and captive audience in all of us.

He’d been a medic in World War I and would operate on man or beast, free of charge. He’d won a dance contest in Atlantic City as a young man and loved music.

He’d farmed, run a service station and a cotton gin and knew how to roller skate. I don’t know that he ever officially retired, because he was always busy doing something.

He had a magic way with all animals and once raised a litter of fox cubs with his hound dog as a substitute mother. They moved in with her newborn pups, and they all nursed together.

He told us he’d been a tent mate of Randolph Scott during the war. This was fame indeed. Randolph Scott was a renowned actor who specialized in Westerns, and we were all very impressed.

When Grandmama heard this story one day out on the front porch, she raised her eyebrows and said, “Really?” in a very skeptical way, so I had my doubts about this story.

He kept us all busy constantly running errands. He’d call a child and say, “Run in yonder and get my” glasses or walking stick or teeth. Sometimes he’d forget to put his teeth in but would remember when it was time to eat breakfast.

He was a faithful member of the American Legion and never missed a meeting.

Grandmama had never learned to drive, and he always took her anywhere she wanted to go. Every Friday afternoon, he’d drive her over to Mattie’s Beauty Parlor and wait in the car while Grandmama had her hair done.

His lungs had been damaged during the war, and he always had a slight wheeze, but it never seemed to slow him down.

Now, Aunt Annie Bea was his baby sister. He adored her and called her Bea. Grandmama called her Honey Bea.

Aunt Annie Bea had her own farm closer to town than ours. She and Uncle Walter always raised a field of watermelons together, and every year would load up the farm truck and drive down to the beach to sell them. This was purely recreational, as they usually spent the proceeds on good seafood before coming home. They’d bring a bushel basket of oysters or a bucket of shrimp on ice, and then oh, how we’d feast.

Aunt Annie Bea was a striking old lady. She’d been a great beauty in her day. She had a great sense of humor and a fiery personality. She played bridge, ran her own farm, told great jokes, and in her spare time — of which there was little — she’d be busy with a lawsuit.

It was a hobby of hers. One of her sons was an attorney, and she’d always be involved in some kind of lawsuit. She enjoyed this very much and would talk about new developments over Sunday dinner.

We children were never informed about her lawsuits, because many subjects in our house were deemed unsuitable for the ears of children. So, after we were all excused from the table and after dinner coffee was brought in, the grownups would lower their voices and discuss these weighty subjects.

We always thought we were missing the best part of the meal, because there was never a dull moment when they talked. It was like listening to a very entertaining radio show.

Grandmama would always keep a sharp eye out for any lurking child with flapping ears and would be quick to tell us to go outside and “Run off some of that energy.” And then she’d think to add, “Don’t slam the screen door!”, but those last instructions were always given a second too late, because it was already slammed.[/cointent_lockedcontent]