As I might or not have made clear, my dad, after having a vessel sunk underneath him and surviving, was altered forever. He had some local help, but from anecdotal stories from his youngest brother, when he was sixteen he was a comic of the first order, having frustrated his father from some indiscretion by climbing a tree. But not like Zaccheus, he was up there to avoid a whupping. My uncle's recollection doesn't say whether my grandfather was amused or not. My grandfather was definitely not amused when, after a drunken brawl that my dad and his virtual twin brother (his next oldest sibling), both swabs, helped instigate at an Army bar outside of Fayetteville that first engaged the MP's and local deputies, but then had the outcome of the Sheriff calling upon my grandfather, a locally respected figure, informing him that my dad, the youngest, was to be banished from the whole of Cumberland County. He left on a train to Texas immediately.Here are the two unpleasant realities of the cumulative fates my father endured:
When we (my sister and I) were approaching bed time one night when we were not even adolescents) Dad came home snockered as usual, got mad at Mom (as usual), escalated the fulcrum of the dispute (which us kids had no idea was, other than his arriving drunk as usual), compelled us kids to both come to the door of the kitchen only to see our father pull the longest, fattest steak knife out of the cupboard and advance towards Mom. What to do? I grabbed my sister (an act of self-preservation that I've regretted nonetheless the outcome ever since) and bolted out the front door past the convent and down the front lawn of St. Leo's School to the driveway of the rectory.
Like a miracle our Mom pulls up in her car, sweeps us up and assuringly takes us to her and our best friend's house for the night. Survival at the primal level. But as we now know is normal, Mom relented and we were back at home within a day or two.
Two: my sister and I are both teen-aged. Dad's somehow survived his alcoholism and a head on collision on the Nimitz (now I-80) immediately after a stomach-ectomy from acute ulceritis. He recuperates.
But the demon is relentless. So one evening, it was still light in California, he shows up early, drunk. That is now a given. As I recall there are some loud and contentious words exchanged in dispute, but that also was standard operating procedure. But their argument is taken upstairs and becomes more audiobly violent. I choose to go upstairs and burst through their bedroom door. Dad is at once both violent and embarrassed. Mom is, if I recall correctly, clothed and on their bed sideways. My dad is compelled to explain to me that he was violent only because his wife refused his entrities of affection. I'm old enough to do the math.
Unexpectedly, he moves toward my mother as if that declaration to all was sufficient to rectify his behavior. But I, maybe fourteen/fifteen, stand in his way and make it verbally clear that whatever he wanted was not going to eventuate. He sobs.]
I don't recall the rest of the evening.