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Fritz And Red. Part One?

Fritz had the "Sugar Diabetes".

Red had Lupus.

They got along pretty well despite their illnesses and completely different temperaments.

They actually appeared to be friends, even though I never really saw them touch each other or hug each other or hold hands or anything like that. They did give each other a quick smooch each night followed by a vigorous round of "Eskimo Kissing." Fritz would chortle and sing a farcical German beer-hall song whilst their beaks slapped back and forth, one against the other.

Heck, by the time I knew them, they didn’t even sleep together – Fritz had "Pa’s" bedroom and Red had the "back bedroom" and I don’t remember anyone ever saying a thing about it.

When I was really young, like around six or seven or eight, I got dibs on whichever one I wanted to sleep in; if I picked "his" quarters it was sure to be so dark that I would wake in a panic at 2 am screaming my head off not knowing where I was. He would get up from his identical twin bed across the room and come over and turn me around and then pad back to his rack.

"Put your head up here", he would say gruffly – but I always felt better knowing he was there.

If I slept in "her" room she would camp on the pull-out sofa in the living room and watch Johnny Carson while I laid in her luxe Queen size and read Hardy Boys or Granny and Reddy Fox books. I couldn’t decide which I liked better, both series were great; I always fell asleep with the bedside table-lamp blazing.

Sometimes I hung out with Red in the living room before I went to sleep; she would posit rhetorical questions about the Tonight Show host and his staff, and the questions were always the same:

 "Why does he fix his tie so much?"

"Did you know that Doc Severinsen always picks clothes out that totally don’t match on purpose? He figures that way people will remember him."

"Did you see how much Tommy makes Johnny laugh? Tommy acts like he doesn’t get it, but he sure does all right."

Fritz didn’t know Johnny C. from the Man In The Moon – he was always asleep by 830pm sharp. And up by 430am the following day. Every day of his life.
 More to follow…maybe….

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  • Uncle E · October 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I remember going to the house on my way to FL after I married THE EVIL ONE. Ma put us in the back bedroom. They pushed the two twin beds together, I guess they wanted more grand kids.
    I know what he did with the extra dollars he got from you. Donuts at the little store off of Pelham. That powdered sugar is telltale evidence.
    As far as being cheap there was no match unless it came to your dad or me. We always had the best and he went without and never bitched.
    I miss them both and pray for them and your dad everyday, I hope you do too.
    Uncle E

  • Author comment by John Nampion · October 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Yeah, I remember that little store off of Pelham -- the lady who worked there looked like a Bulldog -- her lower teeth jutted up over her bottom lip -- and she had a hairy face, too. Fritz could never get over that. As far as being generous -- he might try to get a couple of extra bucks off of a guy but it was money he had originally given to Red, after all -- and he treated all of us like royalty at his house. He just didn’t like tipping any more than they did back when he was a kid. I remember one time we went to a Chinese restaurant and when I tipped like three bucks he had a fit:

    “Jood-uhs Priest, Johnny! What ‘ya doin’? When I was a kid we used to give them a NICKEL for a whole ice cream soda! Gimme that!”

    Ha ha…don’t worry, in future episodes I plan to talk about how smart he actually was, and how hard he worked for my Dad and you…I remember my Dad telling me how, after Fritz lost his job at the packing plant, he sat him on the back steps (looking out at the Catalpa tree, remember it had like beans or something growing off the branches?) and told him that he might not be able to pay for College the next year. Fritz was a quiet guy, but my Dad told me how much that bothered him…it was the era before student loans and Government give-aways, and if you didn’t have the cash, you didn’t get to go….

    Of course he did find a way to manage to pay for College…taking a menial job way past the time of middle-age to do what he knew needed to be done…if he were in the same situation in 2010 I swear he would take the Invicta out of mothballs to deliver pizzas or whatever…pride, after all, was in your family, and had nothing to do with your station in life.

    Thanks for the great comment, Uncle…and all your prayers…I miss them all too.

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