(Aunts and Uncles)
My uncle was a sailor in the war. I called him Unkie. My earliest memories of him had him in that dark blue wool uniform with the white cap; the square shoulder flap like a small cape. Since our extended family treated him with such respect, I did too. Uniforms made gods and I fell easy into the worship of navy blue and white.
A small boy in the 1950’s, I was just learning to look out the car window, just learning how to talk. I made it my job to search the road ahead and call out when I saw an Unkie.
In those days, soldiers and sailors in uniform could just stick out their thumb and the first car would stop and give them a ride. My dad didn’t fear for our safety picking up a stranger. We all just skootched over and made room; gave him a ride as far as we were going, asked him all the same questions.
I didn’t care about the brown-green army men or the marines. But when we had an Unkie in the car, I was fascinated. The man was secondary to the uniform—a symbol of my personal Unkie. It took nearly two decades to value the person instead of the uniform.