So, tonight I'll share some information I recall about Uncle Hightower, and some of my childhood memories revolving around him. His name was Hightower. No middle name was given him at birth. So when he was in the Navy as a cook, Uncle Sam, gave him his mother's maiden name of Placker. Daddy on the other hand, must of been then the only Clayon in America, as they did not make him take a middle name.
Mostly, I recall going to their home in Cleveland to visit, and often we'd spend the night. His wife, Aunt Evelyn, called him Jack. I don't know why. Maybe just a pet name she liked.
I remember that on most every trip, at some point, each time ice cream was taken out and offered in bowls or cones. And Uncle Hightower would always be asking me if I had a say-so. My child mind was always confused by this. But then, he'd try to explain by saying if I wanted some ice cream, all I had to do was say so. I still don't exactly get it. LOL But I remember how much fun he had teasing me that way.
Apparently, he still liked to cook and really knew how, as I can remember him in the kitchen and us eating things like steaks. He had a grill outside, too. Which was something Mama & Daddy just never had.
I don't know for sure what he did for a living, but there were trucks and equipment on a lot by his house, and I always thought they were his or belonged to the company he worked.
He was the first person to ever give me actual firecrackers to play with on the fourth of July. Usually, all I ever had were sparklers and roman candles. Hightower's boy, Geary, and his friends would make trenches and play war with them. Too rough for my blood.
He was also responsible for my first and only fishing experience growing up. We were at their lake house. Uncle Hightower fixed his daughter Kim and me up with poles and worms. I couldn't do the worms. Not that I was squeamish....I just couldn't figure out how to properly put one on. So, there we were fishing on the shore of the lake. Totally unexpectedly, something tugs my pole hard, and I lose my grip on the pole. I had no idea it'd be like that! Poor Hightower was nice to me, but that was a pole he really liked. A week or so later, they wrote or phoned and told us that a neighbor there had been out on the lake that day. Found Hightowers pole, complete with a big fish attached!! The neighbor kept the fish, but returned the pole. So my one escapade at fishing turned into a family joke. :P
Aunt Evelyn was a beauty operator. And she had a little shop right beside their house. They say she gave me my very first haircut. And over the years she gave me a few more. She had big eyes and a very expressive face. Laughed easily and could play the guitar and sing. I remember specifically her singing "500 Miles Away From Home" at night by a campfire.
My clearest memory of Uncle Hightower was of him and Daddy each in a recliner in his den. Both in khaki pants. Both in white undershirts when it was hot, and both with short sleeve button up shirts over them when it was cool. Uncle Hightower, to my mind, looked a lot like Daddy. Dark, black hair with a slight wave. Skin tanned from years in the sun. Both wide grins, smiles with teeth showing. But to my child's mind, he was not as handsome as Daddy. They'd talk, and talk. Sometimes watch sports together.
It was here, where Kim and I learned a very valuable secret. If we walked in and asked to go to the little store on the corner for a treat, they'd give their permission wholeheartedly. Then one would ask if we needed any money. Of course we did! And he'd pull out his wallet. Then, maybe he'd give us two dollars each. So the other would pull out his wallet and give us three dollars each. That would have the first one either digging for more ones or reaching for a five. Depleted of ones and fives, they'd send us on our way. This was the 1960's. That's a lot of junk at the corner store. No wonder I got an awful belly ache every time we went to Uncle Hightower's!!