My uncle, Gof, lived with my family in Chicago for a couple of years. He was tall, fit and walked with a hop to his step. I was glad he lived with us.
He was not one of those adults who asked kids, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” He played classical music at concert pitch, which rattled the whole house. He took bacon from the frying pan right after it had been put in. I thought that was raw. Yuck.
Gof was an idealist. He had been part of the Abraham Lincoln brigade that fought in the Spanish Civil War.
My mother hated garlic. My uncle would hide garlic in the back pantry. Mother’s sensitive nose led straight to it. Sheepishly, Gof would fess up when the smelly item was found.
When my parents had parties, Gof would evaporate into his room.
Mother would never permit politics to be discussed with Gof. He belonged to the Communist party. It was known in the family but never discussed. My father was a conservative Republican. My other uncle, Jack, was a liberal Democrat. Occasionally when mother was not present, lively political debate would take place. I liked that.
One Sunday, Gof brought a woman, Joan Place, to the house. She was tall, thin, had large brown eyes, long sharp nose and dark brown hair. Her eyes danced as she talked. Her arms were continuously gesturing as she pulled us in to her stories. Joan was quite a contrast to my quiet, secretive uncle. I liked her a lot.
Gof would bring Joan over every Sunday. He smiled whenever she was there. He just kept looking at her and smiling. Not all the way he was when she wasn’t there.
The classical music at concert pitch stopped. Gof moved out. I thought it probably was to be with Joan, although it was never specifically explained.
After that Gof would come over to our house every Sunday to work on his Volkswagen. From the tall dining room windows I could see him under the car. He seemed to ride a sled to go under the car. He worked on it for hours.
Joan was in the house with the rest of the family. She loved to pick up my little sister and dance around thru the living room, dining room, music room and entry hall. She seemed to give an extra spin in front of all the fireplaces. Kathy loved it. I was too big at ten years old to be picked up. My brother, who was seven, disappeared whenever Joan arrived.
Laundry was one of the things I helped with at home. While Joan washed the clothes, I was close by and fascinated. I loved this magical woman who often danced into the room. She used her arms as magic wands to pull people close to her. When her dance was over, she graciously swooped her long danglely arms to the floor in a magnificent bow.
As I stood on a stool and stretched to put the clothes on the line, Joan said, “The idea of Communism is from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” She explained they gave a lot of money to the Communist party. That was why they lived in a small apartment. She said, “I don’t mind as long as we are helping the workers. If only everyone who could help would, the world would be a better place.”
Everyone in the family seemed happy that Gof and Joan were to be married. I was the flower girl at their wedding.
Soon after Gof and Joan were married, they moved to Beulah, Colorado, the small town where my grandmother lived.