Saturday, June 25, 2011

Uncle Scott and the Drunk Pigs

Uncle Scott and the Drunk Pigs

                I suppose every family, especially in the South, has a black sheep.  Ours was my Uncle Scott, one of my father's two brothers.  He would appear, after several years of not only absence but no communication, as though he had just been away for a couple of days with no explanation of where he had been or what he had been doing, but what a charmer.

            I remember when we lived on 26th Street, an episode during which he and my father made a batch of home brew (this being during prohibition). When the time for bottling it arrived, Uncle Scott suggested tasting the "green" beer.  I helped myself several times while my father and uncle were bottling it.  After I fell off the porch and my mother figured out what I had been up to, she, the divorcee of a real alcoholic, put her foot down.

The brothers Sparks, guilt ridden for leading a child astray, agreed to pour out the beer, but Uncle Scott suggested that, rather than wasting it, "let's feed it to the hogs."  They poured it into the hog troughs (I suspect they had been doing more than a little "tasting" themselves).  Those hogs took to the home brew like a sick kitten to a hot brick.  Soon they were snorting and squealing and cavorting about.  When their front legs collapsed, the hind ones kept churning and they would plough through the hog pen, their noses sending up a bow wave of hog goo on both sides.  (I've been to some cocktail parties over the years that reminded me of the time we fed the home brew to the hogs). 

Uncle Scott supposedly had tuberculosis, so my mother carefully boiled every glass, plate, and piece of silverware he used.  But Uncle Scott's major threat to the family was not what he might give to us but what he took.  Invariably, after a visit of indeterminate length, he would disappear, along with all loose cash, watches, shotguns, and anything else "hockable" in the house.  A year or so later, he would turn up again, all innocence, with no guilt and apparently no memory of his last transgression.

Shortly before my father's death, he located and visited Uncle Scott somewhere in Oregon.  I regret that I didn't ask my father for his address.  Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years, I would have loved to see him again.  He was a real pistol.

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