Friday, June 16, 2017

Uncle Donnie

Again since I never called my mother's brothers "Uncle" I will just refer to him as Donnie. His given name was Donald. My grandmother hated nicknames. "Why give a child a name and call them something else?" We managed nicknames for most of her children.

Donnie was born on Christmas Eve. He had two teeth at birth. They fell out at the normal time so they were real teeth.

He was active even as a baby. Before he was old enough to be able to roll over (supposedly) he managed to roll himself out of bed and broke his arm.

When Donnie learned to walk he also learned to run. He was a fast runner and liked to race his brothers and sisters. He always won. They stopped racing him because they always lost. Finally he agreed to run on his hands and feet instead of upright. He still won.

Donnie was a trial to Grandma. They were farmers and the boys were needed to help with the farming. Donnie did not like to get up in the morning. This was especially true when he had been out the night before and had too many beers. He was not old enough to drink but he did it anyway.

Grandma would be so frustrated at trying to get him out of bed.

They had no electricity or running water on the farm. If we stayed up past dark we used light given off by kerosene lamps. Water came from the pump outside. Grandma kept warm water in the well of the wood cooking stove. And there was always a cold pail of water with a dipper for drinking.

As a last resort when Donnie would refuse to get out of bed Grandma would take a dipper full of cold water and dump it on his head. He got up.

Donnie was good looking too. He always had his pick of the girls. Of course it helped that he excelled in sports. He played football and basketball as well as track.

In track he participated in all the running events. Relay, hurdles and all the different meter classifications. Remember he was fast.

We liked to go to the track meets he was in. He would run like crazy, win, and then lay down on the grass. Often he was hungover but he won anyway. Then off to the next race. He was fast.

He set many records for speed in the state. This was in the 1950's. The last of his records was finally broken around 1990.

After all the cows were milked all the buckets of milk were taken to the kitchen. They were poured into the separator to sparate most of the cream from the milk. Cream was worth more than just milk. Sometimes we would catch a bit on a slice of bread and sprinkle sugar on it. Yum.

One day I had been aggravating Donnie. Something I did made him really mad. I ran into the kitchen for the safety of Grandma's watchful eye.

Donnie slammed into the kitchen with murder in his eyes. I knew Grandma would not be able to stop him. I backed away from him with my hands in a gesture to hold him back. My legs bumped into something and I suddenly sat down... right into a full pail of milk.

Of course the milk had to be given to the hogs because it was contaminated. It is the only time I can remember seeing Grandpa mad and he was mad at me. And just as mad at Donnie.

I do not think Donnie shared Grandpa's love for horses. If he could get out of going to bring in the cows for milking he would. If it was raining or if he could get someone to agree he would take the Model A Ford Grandpa had. Then we could ride with him to get the cattle.

As with everything else he went fast. When he would go around the corners of the dogleg leading to the pasture he went fast. Often coming back when he would take those corners he did it on two wheels. We loved it. I would hurt him now if he was doing that with my children in the car..

When my Uncle Raymond was married Donnie was his best man. He had more than enough to drink at the reception. He danced and drank the night away. Finally Grandma made Grandpa gather him up and take him home.

Donnie married a very pretty girl with the same name as Raymond's wife. So we called them Ray's JoAnne and Donnie's JoAnne.

Donnie died last year after a battle with cancer. He had a full life and lived it to the fullest.


  1. A well written tribute to your Uncle Donnie.

    1. He was the one who wrote it. I simply was the one hitting the keyboard.

  2. He sounds like a fun guy. I hope his JoAnne kept him in line after they married!

    1. He was fun. And I do not think it was possible to keep him in line. He loved life and lived it.

  3. Another fabulous story. Love the bit about the two teeth. :-)

    Greetings from London.

  4. Uncle Donnie reminds me of one of my uncles. I loved this post.

    1. I am glad you liked it. Your uncle must have been a pistol too.

  5. I had 2 uncles who were brothers, but as far as I know neither one was as adventurous or mischievous as your Uncle Donnie, Emma.

    1. I thought there was probably one in every family. My brother was that way and my son was also daring.