Saturday, May 10, 2014

52 Ancestors: Crabby Uncle Bill Massey

I'm writing about my Uncle Bill Massey as part of Amy Crow's Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks .


WW2 Ross Rifles
Bill Massey in WW2
Every family has its characters and one of the characters in my family was my Uncle Bill. Everyone called him Groundy but I don't have a clue how he got the nickname or what it meant. A life-long bachelor, he was one of the crabbiest people I ever met! 

He was my grandfather's brother and was the second oldest of 9 children. I remember Uncle Bill vividly because my grandfather took me to visit him frequently. But I didn't know him well at all because I was very young and he never spoke to me, nor did I speak to him. I just sat and listened. He probably didn't care for children much. And I was only 13 when he died.

What I remember most is the image in my head of him at the kitchen table drinking with my grandfather. Uncle Bill was a heavy drinker and always had a whiskey nearby. His house was almost empty of furniture but he kept it very tidy and clean. I remember sliding in my sock feet on his hardwood living room floor. You could get a good run at it and slide a long way as nothing got in your way. Everything had its place and nothing was ever moved.

His early life is a mystery to me but someone once told me he worked at the St. Mary's Cemetery at some point in his life. I have a vague memory of being told that he once lived in a trailer by a gas station. It seems sad to not know anything more. 

He volunteered in WW2 and I was told that he drove a jeep in Europe as the driver for a film crew. But the one and only time I asked Uncle Bill if he ever got any medals, he scowled and told me it was all a bunch of "BS". So I never asked again. My grandmother told me that the only time Bill talked about his time in WW2 was when he was very drunk. 

While Bill was a life-long bachelor I know that during the war he had a girlfriend. It didn't work out but he must have cared for her very much because he kept her photograph until he died. I now own this photo but I don't know her name.

Uncle Bill was an amateur woodworker and a blanket box that he made is in my house. 

When I was 13 years old, Uncle Bill died of a heart attack while shovelling snow. His death came as a shock to me because he was a family character and as such you figure they will always be around. In some ways he is still with us because he's one of the members of our family whose name comes up most frequently when I'm talking with anyone else in the family. Everyone remembers Uncle Bill.

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