Thursday, June 17, 2010

And then there's Cousin Milton

I realized that I've only written in my blog twice this month and here it is the 17th of June already. Shame on me. The outside has been calling my name often and repeatedly and heaven knows there's plenty of work to do out there this year. With all the rain we've had it's difficult to get anything done outside but the grass and the weeds certainly love it and explode overnight on a regular basis, which makes it difficult to keep up with things. So I want you Folks to know how important you are to me as today I have chosen to write instead of going outside to my flowers. Besides it's really humid and unpleasant out today, so it wouldn't be any fun anyway.

A terrible storm blew through about 5:30 this morning - heavy rain causing street flooding, lots of wind with lightening and thunder. This, of course, brought Daisy to my side of the bed poking and whining and begging to get in bed. Good thing we have a king-sized bed because a 90-pound dog in the middle takes up a lot of space!!

Anyway, at 5:30 I lay there watching the lightening and listening to the thunder and thinking about various things. Cousin Milton was one of them that came to mind - where that came from I don't know - but you know how it is in the early morning hours when you're lying there awake.

So I decided I would tell you about Cousin Milton as he's a very unique person.

Milton is Ole's bachelor cousin who lives by himself out on the farm and rarely goes to town for anything. It's not that he's unsociable because he loves company and will talk your ear off when you come to visit, he just doesn't like the hustle and bustle of going to the little town 10 miles away where's there's all of a grocery store and a gas station. "Too much traffic," he says with a heavy Finish accent when you ask him about it.

Now Milton is a product of the sixties, just a few years older than Ole. He flunked first grade because he couldn't speak English. After mastering the English language at the fine age of six he sailed through the remainder of school and graduated with honors. He was a smart guy, and according to Ole, taught him "everything he knows!" When I heard that I looked on with great trepidation, and rightfully so because I think he was referring to smoking and drinking beer!! After I got to know Cousin Milton I realized how full of practical jokes he could be.

I was 17 the first time I met Cousin Milton. He struck me as a very handsome young man with a head of very thick blond hair and bright blue eyes. He spoke with a heavy Finnish accent, carryover from his younger days because only Finnish was spoken at home. By this time Milton was out of high school and helping his dad farm. But it just wasn't what he wanted so he and a good buddy decided they were going to go to The Cities (that's what Minneapolis and St. Paul are called back here in the far northern outlands of Minnesota.) Milton and Buddy Tommy drove down to the big city, managed to rent an apartment and find jobs. Tommy was able to stick it out for a couple of years before he returned home to the farm, but Cousin Milton only lasted three weeks. "Too much traffic and too many crazy people," he said in his heavy accent when he arrived home. So he settled down back on the farm and proceeded to involve himself with a girlfriend.

Now one thing you need to know about Cousin Milton is how cheap (oops - was that my out loud voice?) FRUGAL he is. Now the area that Cousin Milton lives in is called the Lakes Area of Minnesota. We're noted for having 10,000 lakes you know. Back in the days when Ole and I were first dating and Milton was involved with his girlfriend, Friday and Saturday night always involved an evening spent at the local roadhouse. The one down the road from the farm was on the edge of the lake and was just a small little three-two joint with a dance hall attached. For my younger readers that meant the bar only served 3.2 beer and setups. Setups are glasses of pop (soda) that you could pour your own alcohol into because the bar didn't have a liquor license. So you'd bring your own beverage of choice, add it to the glass and proceed to get schnockered!! At least some folks did. There was a $1 cover charge at the door because The Melody Boys were playing in the dance hall. The Melody Boys consisted of an accordion, a guitar and a set of drums. Boy, could they crank out all the old waltzes, polkas and schottisches.

Now Ole and I, and the rest of his cousins always got to the roadhouse in time to get a booth to sit in. This meant we had to pay the $1 cover charge. This was back in the days when EVERYBODY smoked, Ole included, so you can imagine that by 10 o'clock the air inside the place was pretty gray, but we danced on anyway. This little place didn't have any air conditioning so all the windows were wide open. Anybody who has spent a summer in Minnesota realizes that the summer nights can be quite warm and sweltering so big box fans were placed in a couple of the windows to move the air and the smoke. Back to Cousin Milton, his date and his frugal personality: He would pick her up early in the evening, bring her to the roadhouse and they would stand outside looking in the windows until the cover charge went off at 10 o'clock because he was too cheap to pay the two bucks to get in! Then he would make his way to our booth/s and spend the rest of the evening nipping from our liquor bottles because he was too cheap to buy his own. If I remember correctly, he even made his date buy her own setups!! I can't believe she dated him for almost two years. She was a pretty girl, too, so it couldn't have been that she was hard up for a date. But I guess people do funny things for love.
She finally pressed him about marriage, and that's when he dropped her. Must have been to expensive or something.

Anyway, he had a few girlfriends off and on over the years and then something happened that he swore off women.

There have been lots of other things that make up Cousin Milton's interesting personality, but this entry is getting long so I'll only tell you about a couple more.

When Milton was in high school he wore glasses - the Buddy Holly kind of glasses - you know - the kind of almost square ones with black frames. Over the years he of course had his prescription changed and changed frames along with them. The old glasses got stuck in a drawer somewhere, but were never thrown away. One day a few years ago when Ole and I went to visit him he had dug out his Buddy Holly glasses because his good ones had broken. I looked at him and I had all I could do to keep from laughing. He had a piece of tape wrapped around the bridge of the glasses to hold them in place, one lense was cracked, and he had a bandaid on his nose because the pads that sit on your nose were missing. "This is just till I get to town to get a new pair," he said in his heavy accent. A year later he was still wearing the same glasses and when I asked him why he hadn't been to town to get new ones he said, "There's too much traffic and too many crazy people." The town where he would have to go to get new glasses has a population of about 3000 people!! Nothing that would exactly cause traffic jams, do you think?

Then there's the kitchen floor: When the house was built back in the 70s sheet vinyl was installed in the kitchen by an amateur. There is a seam that runs right through the middle of the floor and after a few years it started to come apart and roll up at the edges causing people to catch their toes and trip. Cousin Milton solved this problem without much of a cash outlay - just the price of a package of thumb tacks. You guessed it - there is a row of thumb tacks on each side of the seam and they've been there for many years!!

There's so much more I could tell you - about how he parks his tractor on an incline in order to start it because he doesn't have a battery in it. How he only uses used welding rods that are 6 inches short or shorter because he doesn't want to waste them. How his welding helmet doesn't have a band on the back of it so that you have to hold it up with one hand and try to weld with the other (info from Ole). How his garage roof has a hole in it so that it rains and snows inside the garage so he covers his car up with a big piece of plastic so it doesn't get wet. Mind you the car hasn't been driven for 30-some years.

But he really is a wonderful person. He's kind with a very positive attitude and always happy. Which just goes to show that you don't need a lot of "stuff" to be happy.

Love Lean


Anonymous said...

As usual, your posts are hilarious. I am glad to see you are back. I have been waiting and I check every day.

~ Sil in Corea said...

Thanks for taking us to visit Cousin Milton, bless his heart! :-) It's good to hear from you. Send some thunder our way; the humidity is pretty bad here, too.

Hugs from Asia, ~ Sil

Susan said...

Sounds like my honey's Norwegian bachelor uncle. In the end, you know, it probably is a good thing Milton never married. It would take one hell of a woman to put up with all that, don't cha know!!

Marge said...

As usual you have me laughing out loud! The funny thing is that our son, Chris, the one who lives in Alaska, is like Uncle Milton! Chris claims he is allergic to concrete! He lives in a little old fishing village of 300 people, where there is the main street(dirt) and one road that leads out of the town (also dirt). He lives "out the road." When he goes to Anchorage he tells me he is going to Babylon!

Hasn't the weather been scary today? We've been fine here at the campground, but down home there have been several touchdowns and damage. Summer in Minnesota, right?

Love, Marge

The Daughter said...

I wish I could tell you that she's stretching the truth, but she's not. That's my Uncle Milton. I was afraid he would scare my Souther California husband away, but that didn't happen. :)