Being an Honest Injun
Honest Injun? as an asseveration of truthfulness first recorded 1868, from the notion of assurance extracted from Indians of their lack of duplicity.
Being an honest Injun is all too easy when young and without bias or opinion… except when it comes to sugary treats. I would be sent to bed very early one night, with my tail between my legs and without explanation, for telling what I thought was an honest answer to a simple question posed by one of my newly acquainted family members. As I found out later, I suppose I did a little too much telling?
It was very soon after we moved into our new house in Dearborn Township, which I considered the wilds ‘out west’ of Dearborn. The street address was 24354 Stanford, located between Colgate and Lehigh. Because I was only ten years old and a city kid to boot, the names of the neighborhood streets would not ring a bell for many years to come. There was Carlyle, Dartmouth, Colgate, Hopkins, Andover, Eton and the outlier was Penney Rd. I can’t think today of a famous university or college called “The University of Penney.” My new school was also on Penney Rd., but it was Edsel B. Ford Elementary and even though it grew and changed names many years later, as far as I know it never became a University. My new 4th grade teacher would be Mrs. Knuth. It was also where I met up again with an old friend from 32nd Street, Gloria Sykes, the cute girl with blonde pigtails that could really sing. She was sitting front row center when I first walked into my new class and I’m sure she was as surprised to see me as I was to see her.
Our house on Stanford was visited often by relatives, Aunts and Uncles, cousins and old family friends. We only had two bedrooms and they were occupied by myself and Uncle LuLa in the small one and of course my Mom and Dad occupied the larger. I can’t remember where everyone slept when they stayed over and there were a lot of weekend visits. My Aunt’s, Inez and Francis, visited often and were both from different sides of our family. Aunt Inez was my mother’s older sister and Aunt Francie was my Dads.
It was shortly after my Grandma Hart’s funeral that my Aunt Francie came to visit for a weekend. I was still somewhat traumatized by that event and watching the casket, in its various contortions, exiting the house. I could still smell the flowers because, as leftovers, some were still in the living room. That visual of the transition from house to hearse haunted me for years. Poor Grandma Hart, (see “The Big Sleep, Oops!”).
My Aunt Francis, always with a big smile and a hearty cackling laugh that seemed to go on and on, out of curiosity I’m sure, began asking me questions about our summer visits to the farm in Indiana.
“So Ronnie, what is it you and Danny like so much about being down on the farm?” she asked.
Well, and without hesitation, I replied… “Danny and I love it. We sleep up at the head of the hallway stairs on a cot. There are these huge cobwebs that hang down from the corners and it’s like haunted or something. When we have to use the bathroom we have to go out into the chicken yard to the outhouse, where there is a bucket of old corncobs and a stack of old Sears catalogs we use to wipe ourselves… it is really cool! Not only that… we only have to take a bath once a week and every day Grandma Amann warns us to not let Grandpa Teet catch you! Great Grandpa Teet, who is blind, was always chasing us around the house trying to hook us with his cane. Grandma says he isn’t right in his head.”
Well, it was about then that I first recognized the old evil eye coming from my mother’s direction. She didn’t at all seem pleased with my performance. “Ronnie,” she said, “I think it is time for you to go to bed.”
I can’t say that my expose’ of our “down on the farm” adventures did much to advance my Mothers stature within the Hart family. She always felt slighted by comments about her being my Dad’s hillbilly wife. That pretty much all went away though after the passing of Grandma Hart. When her full story got out of being a country girl, raised in a very strict protestant family, no dancing or movies allowed “ever,” made reason enough for her to leave home and school at a young age to seek a different life in the big city. My Aunt Inez was helpful in getting her moved north in the land of “those yankees up there,” as we were often referred to. It was a harmless jibe by our southern relatives and they often added that we were also “Damn Democrats to boot!”
The Honest Injun and (although short lived) future Boy Scout, went to bed early that night.