Willie Mack is my maternal grandfather, more well-known as Ozella’s husband. He’s been dead for many years, but the general consensus is that he was a real character. So can you just imagine what kind of person old Mack told stories about back in his day? Just like I have a nutty, deceased grandfather I enjoy writing about, Mack had a nutty aunt about whom his family liked to tell stories. Knowing what you know about Mack (who used to have fisticuffs with his wife that ended with him being shot and stabbed by his beloved), just imagine how crazy someone would have to be for HIM to consider that person worthy of a fireside story. Well, he had one such relative. Her name was Eualer.
First, I have to explain the name. I just LOVE unusual names. Your comments that included all of your unusual family names cracked me up.
Aunt Eualer’s name was a mistake. Her parents wanted to give her a name that was considered old fashioned even for those days, Eulalie (YEW-lah-lee). But my ancestors weren’t good at spelling or sounding-it-out, because they ended up naming her Eualer, pronouncing it yew-ALE-er, and sticking with the unfortunate pronunciation all her life. Poor Eualer.
I should also mention that in my family, the title “Aunt” is not pronounced “Ah-nt,” the way some fancy people do. It’s also not pronounced “Ant” the way many southerners and mid-westerners do. We pronounce it “Ain’t,” like the grammatically incorrect contraction that makes schoolteachers cringe. For example, I have an Ain’t Sue who lives in Ft. Worth, Texas.
I only know one family story about Eualer, but from that one story, I’m able to deduce that she and I have at least one very important thing in common. She and I both cannot STAND having to stop during road trips to pee. For me, it’s due to an aversion to the smells and germs associated with public restrooms. For her, I’m almost certain convenience was the main factor. I’m not sure how many public restrooms could be found along the road in the middle-of-nowhere east Texas in those days, but I think it’s fair to assume there weren’t many. But she went to greater lengths than I ever have to avoid making pit stops.
Legend has it, Eualer was gearing up for a long road trip with her family, and she knew she would never make it to her destination without stopping for a restroom break. So before she departed, she went to the kitchen, grabbed the biggest butcher knife she could find, and plunged it into the floorboard of the family car’s back seat. She cut a jagged-edged circle about the size of a coffee can lid into the floorboard.
Can you see where this story is going?
So the next time you are driving down the road and see one of those lines of mystery fluid leaking from a random car, keep in mind that it might not be antifreeze or transmission fluid. It just might be one of my family members avoiding a bathroom break.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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