Memories of Kenner

This is not Kenner, but take away the plants, and you have a good idea.

—–

I’m in the middle of a memoir written by a woman who was raised by a couple of crazy parents in Long Island, New York. She’s now in her late 30s, an actress and writer living in New York City.

Her father was a packrat, a hoarder of gargantuan proportions, and her mother was someone who put up with that while also contributing to the mountain of mess.

I’m only in the middle of the book, so I don’t know how it all turns out. I did flip to the end to read “About the Author,” which is how I know what she’s doing these days.

She spent her childhood in two homes. The first burned down. The family moved to a second, and swiftly turned it into a garbage dump like the first, complete with rats and rotting pipes and nowhere to comfortably sit due to mounds of trash.

The book is titled Coming Clean. Get it?

The book brought back memories of my first wife and her family. They were not packrats, but I do recall an engine block in the middle of the living room at one point. The house was a shack in the woods in Kenner, Louisiana, which is a western suburb of New Orleans.

The issue was not hoarding. It was alcoholism, specifically that of my first father-in-law, a freelance carpenter who was the nicest guy in the world when he was sober.

When he wasn’t sober, it was another matter, along the lines of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hyde only appeared to his wife and kids. Even when drunk, other people still saw Jekyll, a friendly fellow.

But he terrorized his immediate family for years.

His name was Durward and, if memory serves, he built the shack in which they lived. It sat on brick pilings and was in dreadful condition. There were gobs of grease on the kitchen ceiling, and while sitting on the throne in the bathroom, you could look straight down through a hole in the rotting floor to the dirt below the house.

It made for an unsettling squat.

Late in life, Durward — everyone called him Buddy — went on the wagon, spending his later years sober. He was an excellent artist to boot. While I was a member of the clan, Buddy drove an old car, something like a 1948 DeSoto, with a shot undercarriage and sagging upholstery. It provided a rollicking ride.

In spite of the troubles, my first wife was very close to her family, and most every Sunday for the five-plus years we were married we drove to Kenner to sit at the kitchen table for hours with coffee, shooting the fat. No, make that the breeze because the fat hung on the ceiling.

I grew very weary of the endless Sundays there. I wonder if we might still be together except for that. Probably not.

—–

Unfortunate choices

While my first father-in-law was problematical in one way, the second was a problem in another. He was schizophrenic, often housed in mental facilities. This, of course, had its effect on my second wife, which had an effect on our marriage. How not?

I married both women knowing of their past. Would a normal person have done that? Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

I wrote recently of my third wife’s family. Here too are problems but not the sort that will break us up.

I pray not. I’m too old to start over.

Western schizophrenia

swim hajib
Nike’s “Swim Hijab” so Mohammedans can take a modest dip.

There is no more Left or Right. There are only Globalists and Nationalists.

— Marine Le Pen

THE FRENCH politician speaks the truth. And we have cracked into two halves, i.e. Western schizophrenia. It is not a global phenomenon because Latin America does not think this way, nor does Africa or Asia. Those places still embrace nationalism, i.e. patriotism.

And common sense.

In the United States, the Democrats are the Globalists, and the Republicans are the Nationalists. There are other distinguishing characteristics of the parties. Democrats get very angry. Republicans far less so, being the generally polite party.

Once the party of the Working Man, Democrats have become the party of the Screaming Woman.

— Robert Stacy McCain

Schizophrenia, of course, is a mental illness and, with some exceptions (most notably in Eastern Europe), the West is mentally ill. How else to explain American companies like Nike hawking hijabs to the people who brought down the Twin Towers in 2011?

greta

How else to explain Time magazine’s naming Greta Thunberg, an hysterical, clueless, parentally abused, mentally ill teenager, its Person of the Year?

As the saying goes, You can’t make this stuff up.

Lotsa wives, lotsa in-laws

AS YOU MAY know, I’ve been married three times. That means I’ve had three fathers-in-law and three mothers-in-law. This can be a good thing or not.

Let’s look at my in-laws because it’s the in-laws who created the wives.

* * * *

Buddy and Violet

My first in-laws lived in a shack in the woods of Louisiana on the outer reaches of New Orleans. Well, not exactly the woods, but it was close to it.

It looked like a shack in the woods. A car motor slept on the floor of the living room, and as you sat on the toilet you could see the ground through a hole in the floor between your legs. The shack sat on stumpy brick pilings.

There was ancient grease on the kitchen ceiling.

My father-in-law was a carpenter when sober and a raging drunk when not. He was more the latter than the former. In spite of this, he and I always got along fine, not because we were drinking buddies because this was before I started drinking.

And I never drank like him. He was a world champ, and I never rose above bush-league status. My first father-in-law was named Durward, but everyone called him Buddy or Bud. Maybe it was after Budweiser.

Buddy was a beer man, 100 percent.

To his credit, in late middle age, Buddy went cold-turkey, completely on the wagon, and he never drank again. When sober, he was charming. He was also a wonderful artist.

His wife was named Violet. She mostly bore up. It was a life of endurance. I liked her. She never drank at all that I recall.

* * * *

Art and Dorothy

My second in-laws lived in a big, beautiful house in St. Louis, Mo. You couldn’t see the ground through a hole in the floor in any of their bathrooms.

I don’t recall exactly how they came to live in that lovely house because my in-laws didn’t buy it. Someone bought it for them. I forget the details.

Art was a schizophrenic who spent long periods institutionalized. He’d be released on occasion, and my second wife-to-be would find herself with another sibling. Release, baby. Release, baby and so on. They were Catholics.

People who breed.

When he wasn’t in the mental hospital, he was a lathe operator, apparently a very good one. He finally was put on lithium and spent the rest of his life very subdued. Dorothy, who always welcomed him home with open arms and open legs, worked, but I don’t recall exactly what, something to do with offices.

They had ten children. My second ex-wife was the first of the litter.

I don’t recall meeting Art more than once. We lived in New Orleans and later Houston, and we never went to St. Louis but one time.

* * * *

Carlos and Margarita

I never met my third set of in-laws because they died before I came upon the Mexican scene, but I hear good things about them. They were neither drunks nor schizophrenics.

They were hard-working folks.

They had one thing in common with my second in-laws, however. They were fertile, producing five babies. There definitely would have been more had not Margarita died in labor while having her final child. She was just 31.

Carlos was a doctor, a general practitioner and surgeon in Los Reyes, Michoacán. He remarried and went on to produce another six babies, well, that we know of.

The doc was a lover. A heart attack killed him when he was 61.

I would have liked to meet my third set of in-laws, if for no other reason than they produced the best — for me — wife of the lot. Carlos was not fond of Gringos, I’m told, but that was true of the whole family. My charm brought them around.

* * * *

One’s roots

It’s said that one’s childhood plays a large role in forming the adult. I put more stock into this idea than many folks do. I believe the effect is enormous.

I look back on my in-laws and later the problems I had with their children, my wives. And I look at my parents and see issues my former wives had with me.

With luck, you mellow as you age. I think that’s why my child bride has few problems with me. I have none with her.