What a better subject to start this chapter with than the Patriarch of our Family, the loveable Herman Lapierre (AKA Gramps). The entire time I can recall, Gramps had snow white hair. He stood about 5 foot five and resembled a white-haired dwarf. I will include a photo of him and one of his brothers later in the book. I swear they look like extra’s from Lord of the Rings. This chapter is going to be composed of miscellaneous stories from mainly my family with some, of course, involving yours truly. In my first book, I included several chapters with fun stories, this book, however, will have fewer stories in it. There is just not enough room for all of the stories that have been my life.
Who Needs Fingers?
I am sure that the reader remembers that Gramps and his son moved in with my parents. What I have not mentioned is what he did to make a living. He worked in a machine shop where he cut metal into pieces with a band saw. If you were to spend any time with my grandfather you would realize two things, one was that he was impulsive and the second was that he was always in a hurry. I have no idea why he was in a hurry, but he was. He was always going somewhere and he dragged his feet. He left wear marks in the carpet wherever he went. So if you were to study those marks for a little while, you could pretty much tell what he did all day long. So now that I have established for the reader what type of personality he had, I will describe to you what happened to him in the machine shop. You probably can tell right off what happened.
Well, he was cutting those pieces of metal as fast as he could so he could take his smoke break. Metal shavings were flying all over the place, he was sweating profusely and his glasses and safety goggles were fogging up as well. The faster he would go the sweatier he became. His hands became slipperier and slipperier, and instead of stopping and drying himself off he kept on plowing ahead with his work. The next thing you know, his hand slipped and the tips of the fingers on his left hand were sliced off by the bandsaw. The blade was so sharp he barely felt a thing, until he saw blood everywhere and the tips of his fingers lying in the metal shavings. Needless to say, his days were numbered at the machine shop. He always had fat fingers on his hands, now the fingers on his left hand resembled little sausages. He never let it slow him down. He still chain smoked like a chimney.
Gramps and the Suwannee River
When Gramps moved to Florida, he had slowed down a step or two, but he still wanted to be involved in the family activities. He was afraid of missing out on anything. My sister Regena lived and still does live in Lake City, Florida. There are two rivers close to where she lives, one is the world’s famous Ichetucknetnee River and Springs known for it’s crystal clear water and inner tube floating down the river and the even more famous Suwannee River, known for its canoeing. Well, my sister planned a family outing for us to go canoeing down the river. Of course, Gramps wanted to go. On this particular weekend both Regena and I distinctly remember that Ronnie and his family tagged along. This was a rare occasion and was probably the reason that they planned on having this trip to commemorate the occasion. So, Stephen and Regena planned out the trip with just the right number of canoes needed. He rented a trailer and canoes and had them all ready for us. He had life jackets and special chairs so you sit in them in the canoe. To make Gramps comfortable, he strapped a seat in the middle of one canoe and they did the same for our Mother in a second one. Well, let me tell you two things…neither my mother nor Gramps could swim. I will also tell you that my mother was terrified the whole time we canoed down the river. I think she left fingerprint marks in the canoe gunwales. Stephen was the most experienced canoeist, so he always took Mom in his canoe. The only time she relaxed at all was when we circled the wagons or in this case, canoes to get the goodies that Mom would dole out. She was forever feeding us. It never failed, no matter what the problem, Mom thought food would fix it. Gramps, on the other hand did not have a care in the world. He took to it like a duck takes to the water. He was instructed not to move and he followed those instructions to the letter. As a matter of fact, we had to drag the canoe up onto the shore with him firmly ensconced in his throne chair before he would step out of the canoe. One other thing of note was that my step father had a proclivity to tip over his canoes just for the fun of it. So nobody but my sister was willing to canoe with him. We also knew better than to load any of the food or other gear in the canoe. Sure enough, he flipped it over and both him and my sister took a dunk. He just thought it was the greatest. I know my sister was a little miffed but she didn’t let him know it. Such things memories are made of. Sadly, five of those people are no longer with us. Gramps, Ronnie, Edward, Rita and Stephen have all left us, and they all will be sorely missed.
Gramps and Racquetball
As I stated before, Stephen was an avid racquetball player. On one of our trips to visit Regena, he though it would be fun if the whole family went and played at the courts. Of course, other than Regena, none of us had a clue how to play. Edward was the only one that had any experience with a racket and that was a tennis racket. Mom took a few swats at the ball with Regena but she was so funny playing that neither one could stop laughing while they played. The more they laughed the more they both peed, so eventually we had to call that match for rain. LOL! Gramps played with Stephen. The poor guy did everything but hand him the ball. Picture this, if you can. My grandfather was wearing a jacket with a hat and his patented bedroom slippers, with cigarette firmly clenched in his stubby fingered left hand, taking one swing after another and getting nothing but air. He never once hit the ball. You could tell that he was really trying his best to hit the ball because he started puffing on his cigarette even harder, eventually Stephen had to stop before poor Gramps stroked out.
Gramps In A Tree
When Gramps first moved to Florida he stayed with us year round. This lasted for several years. Then Aunt Theolus volunteered to take care of him for the next several years. I remember our Mother asking her several times if she was sure, and Uncle Laverne chimed in that they were sure. So when \my parents bought a new mobile home they only bought one with two bedrooms, so that they could get one with a larger living area instead. Well, you bet that my mother was pissed beyond belief when he came back to live with us a few years later. Well, the next two stories occurred when Gramps was living up with his daughter Theolus.
Gramps was not much of a drinker, however, when he was around his son-in-law Laverne he would match him with his drinking. I actually think he liked to get him drunk on purpose. I am sure that you will recall that Gramps was impulsive and had quite the stubborn streak as well. Well, on one occasion, these two traits and his drinking almost ended in disaster. However, one thing is true about Gramps, he was always lucky when it came to really bad things that could happen, he just skated right through them. I think his deceased wife, Cecelia was his guardian angel. Uncle Laverne told him not to take his car home but he refused and went out anyway. Back then, there was no law to prevent drunk drivers from driving. Bartenders were not held responsible at that time either. I know one thing, his guardian angel must have been working overtime on this one. The road back to their house was a dangerous one with lots of windy turns and sheer drop-offs. Well, Gramps made it through several of the turns until he came to the only one on the route that had a massive tree jutting out on the side of the cliff. Well, guess where the emergency services and tow truck found my grandfather in the morning? You guessed it, his car was wedged in the branches of the tree with a fair amount of his car hanging off the cliff. He was sound asleep, sitting in the driver’s seat, not a scratch on him and the car was barely dinged up. The tree had saved his life.
Gramps and the Stool Softener
When Gramps moved back up north to live with Aunt Theolus and Lavern, our mother gave exacting instructions on his medication. He had quite a regimen of meds, some were daily, some for PRN or as needed only. The instructions described which ones he was supposed to get every day. My uncle said that he had this…no problem, Gramps was in good hands. Well, if you just read the previous story about the tree, you will know that this was a lie. We did not find out about this story until several years went by when we went up north to visit them and Gramps had long since moved back in with us. The story kind of came out in bits and pieces. As back words as they were, they never put two and two together as to why Gramps was having the problems that he was having. They told us about the event before they told us about the cause.
They lived in a typical farmhouse which had one bathroom and that was downstairs. There was only one bedroom downstairs and that was Aunt Theolus’s and Uncle Laverne’s room. Gramps slept upstairs. Certainly not the optimal place for him. Well, one night poor Gramps was taken with severe abdominal pain and what was soon to become uncontrollable diarrhea. Gramps slept in his boxer briefs and a white A-shirt which resembles a muscle shirt. Boxer briefs cover the anatomy but they do nothing to contain excrement or urine for that matter. Even though Gramps was racing like hell he stood no chance to make it down that very narrow and long stairwell. Gramps, let her rip about the third step down and continued all the way down the stairs into the living room. For some reason, Uncle Laverne was sleeping upstairs, I think some of his daughters were sleeping over and they were sleeping with their mother. So, he heard the commotion and for some reason did not turn on the light either. Gramps simply did not have the time. Uncle Laverne was simply too groggy with sleep. So, he started walking down the stairs when he hit a slick spot on the third step and down he went the rest of the stairs sliding in the poop all the way down those narrow stairs. When he finally came to a stop at the bottom and he was able to regain his footing and he finally managed to stand without slipping again, he turned on the light at the bottom of the stairway. Of course, by this time he was fully awake when he saw the “poonami” that was his stairway and living room and the fact that he was also covered in it. All the previous days half digested food came up in a volcanic eruption which easily put Mt St Helen’s eruption to shame. To top it off, he couldn’t even hop in the shower right off because Gramps was busy shitting out last year’s Christmas dinner. Of course, the hollering and yelling and commotion that went on was enough top wake up half of the people in the funeral home down the road.
While sitting playing cards together one night, Uncle Laverne started bragging about how well they were taking care of Gramps. We knew this was BS because he had already let slip the effect part of the story. Uncle goes in his deep throaty manner where his neck bulges out right along with his eyes and says that he was giving Gramps all of his meds every day without fail. Mom asked him to repeat himself. She said all of his meds and he goes “yes” all of his meds. Mom goes, “You know there was a stool softener in their as well, and he says :Yah so?” Mom said, “Never mind, it is nothing.” Even after she brought it up to him he did not know what he had done. He had absolutely no idea what any of the medications that he gave Gramps were for. I guess paybacks are a bitch. Poor Gramps, it is lucky that he did not die from dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Summer Road Trip From Hell Part II: Ronnie’s Turn
In a previous chapter, I discussed our parent’s road trip out west. I stated that it was the first part, well, here is the second part. This involves of a new generation of Landry’s with only Ronnie being the repeater. You have to give my brother credit he had this trip all planned out. He had a travel trailer with every amenity known to man. His SUV had plenty of power to do the job but that is not the only thing that a vehicle needs to have to do this type of job. My brother had an old Chevy Blazer that weighed over 5,000 lbs. The problem arose in that it had virtually no wheel base and this provided for an incredibly bumpy ride, one that even broke the hitch. The only thing that saved the trailer were the trailer chains. They were quite lucky also in the location that it broke because there was a trailer and hitch repair shop not too far away. After a few hours, they were able to get their hitch welded and straightened out. The rest of the first day went without a hitch…haha as did a few more days as well. Unfortunately, the good luck did not continue. After stopping for lunch on the side of the road and as luck would have it, they forgot to lock the trailer door. As they were gaining speed they hit a pothole in the road, no “biggy”, right? Well, thanks to dumb luck, if not for it, it could have been even worse. They had to quickly make a right hand turn after they hit the pothole, and it just so happened that Ann Marie looked out of her side window and saw a big dog running across the field. Ricky shouts, “That’s our dog.” So immediately Ronnie pulls off the road and the two boys go running after the dog. They finally catch him after crossing two county lines and bring him back to the trailer where they make sure to lock the trailer door this time.
They continued on their trip for a few more weeks but the thrill has long since faded with each bounce of the truck. So after a consensus was reached, they shortened the trip and returned home before they had reached their planned upon destination. When Ronnie got home he promptly put his trailer up for sale.
Randy is Infested With Fleas and Discovers the Swamp Thing.
Ronnie, in his infinite wisdom hired me to keep his pool clean for him while he was gone the summer on his road trip out west. Prior to this job, what I knew about pools and maintenance would fit on the back of a bubble gum wrapper. Ronnie gave me instructions which I dutifully wrote down. He told me how long the bleach cannister would last, so the first week went by with no problem. I was enjoying life, I would clean the pool once a week, cycle it through its whatever the hell it is called and watch HBO on his TV. By the second week, I was not able to even stay in the house because apparently all the fleas from their dogs decided to stay in Florida for the summer and they all had babies. You could see the damn fleas jumping on the floor, it was like a “friggin” flea circus. I had bites all over my damn legs. Well, so much for that perk. HBO was now off limits. On the third week, God rained fire and brimstone from the heavens, so I thought. When I went to the backyard and found to my dismay, the pool was a pea soup green color. Great, I killed their F–king pool. Ronnie apparently hated me and lied to me about the cannister’s life span, or the summer beat the shit out of it. I called my stepfather up and he came over to the house to see what he could do to help. The only thing we could think of doing was to shock the pool. So we went to Walmart and bought 10,000 gallons of bleach and poured it into the pool. Well, that did the trick besides the fumes were so strong that I shocked two of my neighbors pools by osmosis alone. Once all the algae and, of course, the swamp creature now living in the pool all had died, the filters were all clogged up. So I had to clean them out and vacuumed the pool till my arms fell off. When my brother called and told me that he was coming home early I about had a heart attack. Because as of now I was already in hyperdrive, I somehow found another gear and kicked it up a notch. I made one more spot check on the pool the day before they were to arrive and the pool was sparkling, it looked better than I had ever seen it before. Guess what my sister-in-law did? She shocked the f–king pool before she let the kids swim in it. I was so pissed.
Randy Gets Lost In Havasu Falls
You would think that this being my third time to these falls that I would have the route down pat? Well, you would be wrong. Since this was my third time there and I was getting a little bored I decided to leave early at night to miss the heat of the day. Besides I could not sleep. Unfortunately, we had had some rain the previous day and the trail looked different. It ended up causing me to make a right instead of a left hand turn at the bridge. Eventually like five hours later, I figure I had went the wrong way. I waited at what I thought was a busy intersection was actually an area where cows congregated. I was getting tired so I slept on top of a stone wall for a few hours. Still not convinced that I had went the wrong way I went a little further, and when I finally saw dozens of eyes staring at me, I knew that I had in fact zigged when I was supposed to zag. So, I back tracked all the way to the bridge and stomped through the water and kept on going and lo and behold their was the town, and the rest was easy as pie, that is until I hit the area that involved the climbing. By that time I had hit a wall, I had been hiking for close to 10 hours and I had not eaten anything. So I stopped for a bite to eat and was able to finish the climb. No problem, 10 miles in 12 hours. Well, who really knows how far I actually hiked. Yep, I know the way now, for sure that is. Well maybe.
Have you ever heard of people picking up cars when they get a surge of adrenaline? Well, how about a couch? I know that is not the same thing. Still, it was impressive. I was moving a three seater overstuffed couch on the top of my Isuzu Trooper II when one of the ropes came undone and the couch fell off the top and started dragging on the road . I quickly stopped my SUV , thank God, nobody was behind me. I jumped out and with one heft picked the rather heavy and very very large couch over my head and threw it on the roof of my SUV. I quickly pulled off the road before a single car came by and tied it back to the roof rack… this time with two sets of ropes. Right then and there I should have cut my loses but I kept on trucking the next day on the same road, this time with a screen door on my roof. The wind must have been too much for the bungee cords I was using to tie it down because the next thing I know the door is airborne, like something right out of the Wizard of Oz. This is where I used up all the luck I had for at least ten years, the door landed the long way on its edge between two cars and managed to stay vertical until the cars had cleared it. I am watching this all taking place in my rear view mirror as I am crapping my pants. Again I quickly pulled off the road and ran and picked it up and shot putted it to the side of the road. It was totally destroyed but I did not care, nobody got hurt, that is all that mattered.
Randy and His Diving Buddies
Until you have gone diving and got to see fish and other creatures in their elements, you will not understand what I am talking about. I actually feel bad about eating seafood now. On one particular dive I got to dive in a sea lion rookery. Young sea lions are the most playful animals. So playful in fact that they warn the divers not to wear a snorkel attached to your mask. You may ask why that is? The reason is that they like to pull on things with their front flippers, especially an easy and fun target is your snorkel. So if you don’t want your mask ripped of your face don’t where a snorkel when diving there. Instead the little buggers grabbed my swim fins. That is ok, the couldn’t hurt anything by doing that. One actually swam right up to me an opened his mouth in a playful attempt to scare me.
Most people don’t realize that even fish can have personalities. I have spent countless minutes playing with fish like Garibaldis. They actually will play hide and go seek with you.
Help, I have Fallen Asleep And I Can’t Move My Arms!
This story was told to me by one of my nephew’s Marty Crane. I can neither confirm or deny the factuality of the events that transpired. All I can say is that supernatural forces were at play along with demonic possession taking place, how else can you explain the facts. In this telling of the story I will do my utmost to blow it all out of proportion and make it unrecognizable to the participants, all in an effort to protect them from….. hell if I know…from something. The events took place on Halloween night, the parents of Stephen Crane rented the Amittyville House because there house was being painted. Not really but sounded good. They were actually at the Crane farmhouse. But it sounds scary. Marty and Rene were sharing a room that was separated by a rickety walkway from their parents. Apparently they were suffering from heat stroke because they were sleeping in the au naturel. Marty and Rene were both apprehensive about sleeping so close to the portal of doom. The baying of the hell hounds kept them awake for a brief moment before the sleeping draught given to them, overcame their defenses. Out of nowhere, Rene let out a blood curdling scream and started repeating “REDRUM” over and over and flopping her arms around like if she was possessed. Marty immediately leapt from the bed to see what was the matter. Seeing his sister floating in the air, he let out a scream as well. Meanwhile, Regena wrapped in her flowing cape came to the rescue. She leaped over the yawning void that divided the rooms to see what was amiss. Meanwhile, Mrs. Crane came racing up the five flight of stairs to rescue her beloved grandchildren who she was secretly planning on sacrificing in the morning. Fatigued from her harrowing journey she collapsed at the entrance of the room. The next thing that was heard was a plaintive cry, “Gina, Gina!”. Poor Stephen had no cape to protect himself from the supernatural forces. Meanwhile, Mr. Crane was sleeping soundly in the dungeon below.
What really transpired no one knows for sure, but it could really have gone this way. Renee fell asleep on both her arms, I’ve got nothing on that one. When she woke up she could not feel her arms because they were numb, she panicked and started screaming, Marty as any supporting brother would do started screaming as well. The more the merrier. Regena and Stephen really were sleeping in the nude. When she jumped up, she took the sheets with her. Their grandmother raced up the stairs and almost passed out from the exertion. Mr. Crane did in fact sleep through all of it. When the dust settled, they all had a good laugh and went back to sleep. The end.
Which story is more fun? I let my case rest.