Monday, September 5, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate Found Photos and Letters

 I was cleaning out a number of drawers today.  A forced purge of possessions down to the bare necessities is often a very good exercise.  I have been discovering I have way too many things, most of which I never use.  This is mostly because my possessions are the following:  25% CDs and records, 25% books and 50% charge and patch cords for devices that are out of date by at least a decade.  If you need a Blackberry car charger, I’m your guy.  Or I was until I threw it out about an hour ago.  I have learned I have spent the last 20 year accumulating absolutely nothing of value.

I found a cache of old pictures and letters from when various relatives had passed away.  The best time to receive old photographs of yourself in out of style clothes and haircuts is without question right after a tragic death.  Even now I am questioning my fashion choices at the 1996 Miller family Xmas dinner.  (see above)  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Look at the collarless shirt with jacket!  I’m sorry Aunt Rose.  I hope you can hear me now.  I wish I could go home and change my shirt.  And jacket.  Sorry.

As I tossed out various things that had no value, I found a letter my great grandfather had written my grandfather in 1934.  It was written to him as a young man, attempting to give him guidance as an overbearing father might have done in those days.  What I found most interesting was when I read the letter out loud today and found his voice as I sounded out the bombastic advice.  As a man that has come from a long line of Catholic guilt and heavy responsibility, it was good to see that my grandfather was doomed in 1934 to that as well.  It’s nice to be part of the long lineage of shame.

The nine page letter is a basic guide to life.  Most of it is quite timeless with an emphasis in Great Depression era concerns about debt and earnings.  It is important to note the author of the letter is an amazingly successful man that lived on oceanfront property while thousands starved in the cities.  Still, you can see his overall concern for his boy in the wonderfully detached manner of the times.  Frankly it makes me want to have a baby in England in 1934 so I can be even more detached.  It's the only option available.  "Is Peter choking on his cold porridge?  Hmm...  Let's check back in the morning luv..."

I wonder what my great grandfather would have made of me?  In the letter he is reamarkably uptight about the consumption of hard liquor.  “People are different in the use of liquor.  Some few can drink it without harm, but most cannot. To date, you have never taken a drink of hard liquor , and if you never take your first you will never take your second.  In staying away from liquor entirely, one can be certain he is safe.’  This obviously avoids the fact that my grandfather could crush gin like a beast, and I am sure was doing so in 1934.  I’m glad my great grandfather was in the dark on that.  I’m sure we could all have a gin and tonic and relax by the pool now.  Well, if those guys weren’t dead and all…

I’m a remarkably flawed man.  I come from a long lineage of flawed men.  It was somehow comforting today to hear my great grandfather speak, even through a letter.  That guy was a blowhard, but you know what?  So am I.  God willing one day I can sit down with all of those men.  I don’t think it will happen but I hope it does.  If so, I will tell him I read his letter.  And it helped me. 


At September 7, 2016 at 8:53:00 PM EDT , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

I like this post. And I like that picture. Has a sort of 'lost Baldwin brother' look to me. Maybe.....Clem? Yes, that's it. Clem Baldwin.

At September 9, 2016 at 7:48:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Clem, the Baldwin best known for his failed attempts at "re-imagining interpretive dance".


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