October 22, 1910. Clarksburg, West Virginia. My dad, Fernand Andris was born a first generation Belgian immigrant. March 9, 1909. New York City. My grandmother arrived in this country from Belgium with my dad’s two older brothers, Louie and Alphonse. She joined her husband, Arthur, already in Clarksburg. My grandfather, Arthur, came first in November of 1908 with his two young teenage sons, Arthur and Amie, from a previous marriage. He had found a job as a glassblower where his older sons could also assist and find employment. Arthur was to be, in fact, the last in a line of 10 generations of glassblowers. Finally, in June, 1911—with the arrival of Julia, the daughter by a previous marrage of grandmother, Victorine “Torienne”—the family had stretched itself from Europe through the black hole of the Atlantic Ocean and emerged still together on the other side in America.
Begin shameless liberal/progressive/Democratic rant.
The Republicans are ruling the roost now in the executive and legislative branches of the U.S.A. They are in almost complete control, and they want to rule the roost in the judicial branch too. We can already see their program at work: reduce the power of the federal government so that it functions to make the rich richer. But they also want their most powerful rich to be straight white men, unambiguously defined as in control of and superior to women, LGBT people and people of color and “divergent” culture.
Today, October 17, 2018, would have been the 80th birthday of my lifelong close friend, Willard Lutz. As it was, he only got to spend 76 years here on this mortal coil. I was able to find a copy of the eulogy that I read for him at a memorial service for Will by his three children, Travor, Todd, and Tanya, held on June, 2014 at the Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Will is one of those friends who helped to define me, as I helped to define him, and so a part of me has gone to the other side with Will.
I didn’t realize it at the time, nobody did, but I was a transgendered kid. I never had a good explanation for all the woes of my childhood while it was happening. It just seemed like my life was really difficult and challenging with a lot of stumbling blocks. On the other hand, there were segments of my childhood living that were a joy. I loved school and excelled in every subject but art and physical education. I hung out with my mom, her mom, whom I called “grandmother” and her mom’s mom, whom I called “grandma.” My social world tended to be the Erb children who lived next door (three girls, one boy), my first cousins who lived next door (three girls), and the cluster of women friends who regularly visited and played cards with the female trio of our household. Not that I didn’t relate to my dad. Though he struggled with alcohol addiction, he parented me thoroughly enough that even today he is often my go-to moral reference. When dad was drunk, he could terrorize indiscriminantly. When dad was sober, most of the time we worked out an uneasy truce and tried to get along. We were so different from one another.