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Addy

Addy

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Published by Douglas Page
Everyone agreed that Addy was unstable, including my dad and Art, who rarely agreed on anything.
Everyone agreed that Addy was unstable, including my dad and Art, who rarely agreed on anything.

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Published by: Douglas Page on Jan 07, 2013
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11/30/2013

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 Addy 
 by Douglas Page ©2010 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
In 1958, the summer before my sophomore year in high school, mydad bought me three cars. One of the men he worked with at thepost office in La Jolla sold him a 1947 Plymouth, a 1948 DeSoto,and a 1949 Dodge for a total of $50. The only one that had anengine that started was the Plymouth, but it’s right frontfender was damaged badly. The DeSoto was scrapped for salvageweight at the Rose Canyon junk yard, the Plymouth was driven toour house in Clairemont and stored in the back yard. It was tobe my first car.Later that summer, the Plymouth got a replacement fenderwhose paint didn’t match the rest of the car, but I drove it toschool for two years anyway. I wasn’t in on the negotiation, butthe Dodge was towed to my grandfather Art’s home in theEucalyptus Hills north of Lakeside on the western edge of theCuyamaca Mountains and parked on a flat area up the slope justeast of the clothesline - close enough to the neighbor’s landthat a border dispute soon erupted.The neighbor was Art’s daughter, my Aunt Margaret. Shewasn’t the problem. The problem was her husband, my uncle, athin volatile character named Floyd Addy. Everyone agreed thatAddy was unstable, including my dad and Art, who rarely agreedon anything. Addy, an artist who drank white port wine and neverfinished anything he started, eloped with Margaret, my dad’sonly sibling, when my dad was still in high school, therebysealing Addy’s reputation as someone not to be trusted. Artdespised him and only tolerated him because he was married tohis only daughter.I was no judge of Addy’s stability, but the charge that henever finished anything was probably true. We lived only a fewmiles from Addy in Urbandale, before both families moved toCalifornia in the early 1950s. For years, the inside of Addy’shouse was as naked as the statues he sculpted. Entire sectionsof plaster walls remained unfinished, the wood lath exposed likebare ribs. The largest section was at the bottom of the stairs,near the entrance to his art studio that housed a collection of
 
clay and porcelain statues of naked women that my pal Joe Lamband I used for our sex education in grade school. The statueswere armless and legless, some with no heads, but it wasn’t thearms or heads that interested us.When Joe and I were around 10 or 11 years old, we wouldbike over to Addy’s on summer days, ostensibly to play with mycousin Alayne, but the real purpose of these excursions was toget a glimpse of the statues in the studio. All we had otherwiseto inform us of the wonders beneath women’s clothing were thenaked slaves Joe clipped from a National Geographic and keptfolded and buried in a laundry bag under a bottle cap collectionin the back of his closet.Addy was never at home when Joe and I visited, but AuntMargaret, an elegant lady with short stylish hair and a sadsmile, always seemed happy to see us and made us lunch of friedgreen tomatoes, pickles, and cottage cheese that otherwise wouldhave discouraged subsequent visits were it not for the studiofull of naked women.Aunt Margaret had no sons, but she must have suspected shewas contributing to our demise in some way because after acouple of visits the studio door was kept closed. We soon foundother places closer to home to satisfy our nascent sexualcuriosity. In our own neighborhood Bob Snider’s barn in thefield across Roseland Dr. up by Pirate Rock became a favorite.Inside, centerfolds from a new magazine called Playboy werebeginning to cover the bare slats between pegs where he hunghorse tack.The faded blue Dodge sedan beat me to the Eucalyptus Hillsthat summer. After school was out the plan was for me to spend aweek or two rebuilding the engine. My dad gave me a MotorsManual, my grandmother Lola provided the meals and the divan tosleep on and Art the tools and all the Camels I could smoke, onthe condition that my mother not be informed about the Camels. Before the sun went down the second day, two things becameclear. The Dodge was doomed for the junk yard after I snappedtwo head bolts, and Addy was going to be a problem. Theafternoon of the second day, while Art was at work and Lola busyin the laundry, Addy approached, huffing and flapping. I wasunder the car, trying to disengage the flywheel.“I want you and that piece of crap off my property,” hestammered, after climbing the slope in a rush.
 
I scooted out from under the Dodge, holding an oily rag anda grimy ratchet.“Hey, Floyd,” I said.“I want you and that car off my land!” he spit, waving hisright arm like he was deflecting a wasp. Sweat glistened off theeagle tattoo on his forearm. He wasn’t smiling. I had no ideawhat he was talking about. We were family.He took another step toward me, close enough that I couldsmell the liquor. He snorted, glaring at me with glossy, wildeyes wild. I felt a sharp stab of fear in my belly. Was this theman who could create such compelling figures with only some clayand his bare hands? Where was the delicacy now that formed thosebreasts so perfect they exactly fit a cupped hand? Who was thiscreature behaving like a trapped animal? This must be what theymeant by instability.I’d never had a problem with Addy. Usually, he made melaugh. He often cursed like a seaman, especially around mymother, whom he knew it would offend. None of her brothers weremuch fun. Religious fanatics. This uncle, the only one on mydad’s side of the family, was a vulgar nonconformist. I may havebeen the only one on either side of the family that liked him.But, I wasn’t laughing that afternoon. Instead, I wasscared. I stood there silently, wondering if I’d piss myself ifhe came even closer. The best thing, I sensed, was not to engagehim, to stay calm.I wondered vaguely how he even knew where the property linewas. There were no fences or stakes, and, unless you were asurveyor who somehow understood latitudes and longitudes down torock level, there was no way to know where one lot ended and theother began. It seemed to me the stony hillside wasn’t much tofight over. Only the most determined sage and manzanita survivedin a weary soil baked crisp and dry from exposure to therelentless southwestern sun. Nothing grew tall enough to makeshade. In one sense, property lines were merely surveyor’sfiction. This was open land, on the threshold of San Diego’swild back country.Art stored a .22 caliber rifle in the closet inside theback door and a collection of rattlesnake rattles in an emptypickle jar in the carport from snakes he’d shot, one of themshot while coiled around one of the poles that held up the

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