My Great Aunt Vulla was an interesting character. She was a midwife who’d assisted hundreds, maybe even thousands of babies; black, white, and so forth, into this world. She assisted my mother in bringing me here. Aunt Vulla “midwifed” me into the world right there in Gramp’s house on a “miraculous” summer day in 1961. I’m told that when I came into the world, I didn’t cry. They wrapped me in a blanket and laid me in front of the fireplace. I lay there peacefully, growling instead of crying. I don’t remember when I first cried, but immediately succeeding my birth was not that time.
Gramp and Aunt Vulla used to get together at Gramps house from time-to-time. Aunt Vulla would bring her quilting materials. She was a master maker of beautiful, heavy, warm quilts. Her “materials” consisted of needles, thread, thimble, and an immense bag full of cloth scraps of all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. I don’t think she ever passed by a swatch of cloth that she didn’t save to be used in one of her many and variably wonderful quilts. Over time, she had managed to accumulate a mountain of scraps that would one day become parts of exquisite quilts. Just like she put that rainbow colored, jigsaw puzzle of cloth together into a beautiful quilt, she and Gramp would weave tales from their past; wonderful little anecdotes full of colorful characters, as varied and as interesting as the colors and shapes of the scraps which lay at Aunt Vulla’s feet.
In their telling, they introduced me to a word they often used when describing people of less than stellar mental acumen. That word was “Stornado”. A “Stornado Fool” was a distinct and separate class of fool. A “Stornado fool” was a fool above and beyond any foolishness you might imagine. One of the sisters might say, “Child John is a straight fool.”, then the other would dovetail onto that statement with, “Honey, yes! A Stornado fool!” then they’d whoop with laughter. Man, you could bet that fellow didn’t have sense enough to pour pee out of a boot if it had a sign on it that said “turn upside down” (this, by the way, was another of their sayings). I never knew the origins of “Stornado”. It seemed to be a combination of storm and tornado.
Another type of fool that Gramp used to mention a lot was the “Educated Fool”. This type of fool was not quite as bad as a “Stornado”, but was a disgrace in his or her own right. She seemed to have a particular disdain for an “Educated Fool”. To her, it was especially shameful to waste such a prized and expensive gift on someone who was determined to remain a fool despite being educated; for you see, Gramp had been a teacher for some 30 plus years and knew intimately, the value of an education. She didn’t feel that such a valued gift should be taken lightly.
Thanks to Gramp and Aunt Vulla I learned that: not everyone thought to be a fool is a fool; I learned that some so-called intelligent people can also be fools; I learned that, by any means necessary, avoid “Stornado Fools”; and if I’m ever called a “Stornado Fool”, it is time to take a serious look in the mirror; a penny for your thoughts?
There are a couple of good stories about some “foolish” people that I heard while sitting at Gramp’s and Aunt Vulla’s feet. In honor of Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is today, and who once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt,”let me tell you about a boy named “Man” and a man named “Boy!” –Next week!