Unkie by
(24 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

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(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.


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  1. I feel sure the next time I see a sailor I’ll think to myself, “Unkie.”

    Wonderful writing…thank you, Richard.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Interesting how you personalized all Navy men into your “Unkie”. Thank you, Richard.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    So interesting how all men in navy uniforms were your “Unkie.”Thanks for this insight into your mind as a child.

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