While in South Carolina I have heard a lot of family stories, but Uncle Buck is the one that really sticks out. Near the foot of my grandparent's bed are a couple rather old pictures. But the one that really catches the eye is dead center, in an ornate frame, featuring a man with ice blue eyes and a set jaw.
Just by looking at him, you can tell he is going to be an interesting dude. But I had no idea just how interesting he actually was.
Uncle Buck was a big ol' man. About 6 foot tall and stocky, visibly strong. My Granny's most vivid memory of him was watching him roll cigarettes. He would sit at the table, stoned faced, rolling and rolling... and rolling. Until he filled an entire coffee can, that he would put in the fridge, which is where they stayed. He would sneak her tiny drags off his smokes occasionally. She was very fond of him.
Great-great Uncle Buck was a military man, as you can tell by the picture. But he wasn't a paper pusher. No, sir. In fact, he parachuted over German enemy lines and took about 11 rounds of machine gun fire for the effort.
Granny vividly remembers the scars in almost single file from his ankle to his hip.
Oh, but that wasn't enough for Buck. Buck got himself captured by the enemy and spent 18 months as a prisoner of war. As one could imagine, he didn't like to talk about that much. He told my granny only two things about it all. That the Germans really, really liked chocolate and took all of theirs, and that he once escaped.
He took an article of clothing from each allied force with him, so if he was found, no one would know EXACTLY who he belonged to. He also spoke perfect German. Goddamn brilliant. Sadly, he got recaptured, and the soldiers didn't know what to think of him.
So they kept him, just in case.
(He was eventually released by allied forces and returned home.)
Granny told me her FAVORITE memory of Uncle Buck was when he would come home from drinking and stumble into the dark house. There was an icebox by the door. Now, under the ice box, was a tray that would catch all the water as the ice melted while cooling your food.
Every night, without fail, you could hear a crash, a splash, and then cussing all through the house as he meandered back to the bedroom.
"son of a bitch"
He stepped in it. Every. Single. Time.
I wish there were more stories about Uncle Buck, but sadly, the most interesting is about his death. While out drinking one night and playing cards, he was beaten to death. I mentioned that my second great uncle was big damn man, so it raised all kinds of questions about the kind of man that could have beaten him to death.
I mean, shit, a machine gun didn't do the job.
As it turns out, Buck was beaten to death by a professional boxer. I am not sure exactly how it went down but I picture an old time-y looking boxer or circus strong man, with a handlebar mustache, raising hell in a wild west saloon.
I can't speak for authenticity, but that is how I picture it.
Sadder still, is that justice was never served for Buck. Since the fatal fight happened between two drunks playing cards, police decided it was best to just let it lie. While he died in a hospital from sepsis.
The boxer had knocked him down and stomped him, causing his intestines to rip and fecal matter/bacteria to get into his bloodstream.