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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Grandfather and the Old Goat 

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My grandfather was a rather larger than life, Howard Hughes (without the crippling OCD) character. He died of cancer before I was born, which he probably developed poking around in some uranium mines he owned. One of his great passions was flying, and during the 1930s somehow ended up establishing the air force for that death squad wielding, right wing dictator treasured ally and bulwark against communism, Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo recently had taken over the Banana Dominican Republic and, like most tin pot dictators, desired an air force of his very own to show off and command. My grandfather was in the Air Force Reserve, and he and his best friend, without knowledge or consent of the United States government, went down there for a few months in Trujillo’s employ. This was most likely treasonous, especially since they were wearing a foreign sovereign's uniform, but my grandfather never let matters like that interfere with his good time. He loved visiting Latin American and nobody could throw a banquet like those dictators.

Here he is pictured with Trujillo. My grandfather is on the right. He and his friend spent most of their time in the Dominican Republic strafing peasants delivering the mail and attending large parties and banquets in their honor. In the sixties, my great aunt stopped in Santo Domingo on a cruise and everyone they talked to remembered him and his friend. A man at the market said that he had been a little boy at the time and used to follow my grandfather about because he thought he was a movie star. I’m sorry I never got to meet him. He wasn’t the best family man and at the time of his death, a lingering, horrible death from cancer, was estranged from both of his daughters. My mother had many unresolved issues with him that affected her her entire life, and I always thought that it was curious, that there must have been some kind of connection, that they succumbed to terminal cancer around the same age.

Comments:
ah, cr, i can never tire of hearing these stories! seriously, you should compile some kind of family history book. hell, ill even do the watercolours. give my love to elizabeth and the wee ones :]
 
oops, i included names. ugh, i always butcher this comment thing.
 
I agree! It's a great idea -- compiling these vignettes into a book. I, too, never tire of reading/hearing them.
 
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