Wednesday, November 18, 2009

There's One in Every Neighborhood

The Law Of Averages says that if you grew up in an urban neighborhood, chances are that there was at LEAST one person or family that was different from everybody else.Some were Non-conformance Hippie Types, Deeply Religious Fanatics, Anti-Social Introverts, or just plain NUTS!

We had the latter. We called him Uncle Willy. My Dad thought he was one of those guys who came back from the war strangely delusional. Uncle Willy was about my Dad's age, big and kind of chunky. He ALWAYS had a pipe in his mouth and talked with it clenched in his teeth. He had a wife he drove to work every day at a local department store. She looked normal except for her lipstick. I think she circled the outline of the outside edge of her lips and then colored it in like you do in a Coloring Book. Her glasses were vintage 50's with white frames that came to a point in the corners.

Willy had two kids, both that looked like cartoon characters. a little girl that reminded me of what Orphan Annie would look like after electrocution and a boy that was a year older than me, but a foot taller. He was a String Bean with a Unibrow.

Our house was three houses up the street from Uncle Willy's and none of the kids walked on the sidewalk in front of his house. The fear was he snatch you up and God knows what horror might befall you! He never harmed anyone, but you know the stories kids can conjure up. My sisters swear he threatened a girl in the neighborhood who had an artificial leg, the result of club feet. Supposedly, Willy said if she walked across his sidewalk again, he would cut her other leg off! Hence, everyone avoided his house like the plaque.

Other stories emerged over the years about Uncle Willy. Again, none ever proven to be true or by the result of his handiwork. Allegedly, he was said to have cut up the garden house in one inch pieces of the 90 year old widow that lived next door to him and no evidence could be found that he poisoned her cat. We took the poor widow's cat to the Vet to be put down. Through her tears, she promised to, "Shoot that Son-Of- A- Bitch"if he ever came in her yard again. I wouldn't have doubted that spry old lady. She never got her chance, she died shortly after that incident.

My biggest run-in with Uncle willy was one I provoked. I was fourteen or fifteen at the time. My next-door-neighbor Stew that was the same age,had just got a Pellet Gun. We decided to put it to good use and waited until dusk. We climbed into Stew's attic that was two doors away from Willy's house. We opened his attic window and began lobbing shots onto the top of Willy's slate roof. The pellets would tinkle down the roof, go into his gutter, and clang down the downspout. What Fun! It made such a racket and we figured he would never know where the noise was coming from! Yeah! Take that Willy! We got bored after about fifteen minutes of this and went outside to Stew's back yard, laughing about our prank.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a rock the size of a bowling ball came hurtling through the air from the other side of Uncle Willy's hedge. It travel high into the air and smashed through the large rickety deck attached to the back of Stew's house. Ka-Boom! Wood splinters and dust flying everywhere! How the heck did he launch such a projectile? A cannon? A catapult? A giant slingshot? We didn't stick around to find out! It had to travel at least 100 feet. To this day, I don't know how he did it.

My Mom often ran around the house in her slip, in the evening, after a long day at work. She walked into her darkened bedroom one evening and looked out of the Venetian Blind she parted in her window. Under the street light at a guardrail about sixty feet from our house, stood Uncle Willy, smoking his pipe. He turned towards our house as my Mother peered at him. For some unknown reason, she waved at him. He cupped his hands as if looking through Binoculars and waved back! Mom got a severe case of "The Heebee Geebees" and had a shiver go up her spine! She never understood why she waved at him or how he ever saw her through that slit in the blinds.

Creepy things like that continued with Uncle Willy all my adolesencent life. Willy's wife eventually divorced him, took the kids, and moved to California. He died a lonely death, apparently of a heart attack. He was found by a Meter Reader after several days, lying on the floor of his house. Neighbors found a lot of their Garden Tools, Sprinkling Cans, Bird Houses, and other outside yard items in Willy's garage after his demise. My Dad found several Albino Rabbit Pelts tacked up on a wall. We raised rabbits when I was a little kid. Now we know what happened to many of them. I hope Willy enjoyed the eating, tastes like chicken, But Makes You Nuts!


  1. This sounds like a Stephen King story! Honestly, add a couple of murders in there, and you've got yourself a novel, Tom! You may have to share the royalties with Uncle Willy's kids. :)

  2. We had a couple of odd ones here and there in the neighborhood that I grew up in, but nothing so entertaining (or creepy) as your Uncle Willy.

    I agree with OH, you should send an expanded version of your memories to Stephen King and see if you can't get rich off of what was obviously a traumatic childhood situation.

    ...and change his name to avoid the royalties issue :)