Thursday, November 05, 2009

Great Aunt Ollie & Peanut

Remember how I mentioned my MC for the crazy bad NaNo novel I'm writing has a pet squirrel? And that I didn't just invent that because I had a great aunt somewhere who owned a pet squirrel?

I now have corroboration. My mom e-mailed me the details about dear Great Aunt Ollie, who was married to my maternal grandmother's brother. Here's what she had to say:

Yes, your great Aunt Ollie Sauls (married to Maw-Maw’s brother, Norman—who had alligators) had a pet squirrel named Peanut. She kept it in her house in a bird cage, but Peanut ran around in the house wherever and whenever he wanted most of the time.

Aunt Ollie was a chain smoker, a little eccentric and loved that squirrel. Peanut would eat out of her hand. I don’t remember how Peanut died, or even how Peanut came to be her pet, but I know she was crazy about him. I was always afraid of him.

I picture Peanut, the devious squirrel, staring down my mom as a little girl, a malicious glint in his eye. Probably daring her to make one move...

I never knew Aunt Ollie, but I did meet Norman a couple of times when I was little. He kept alligators in a trough on his property. I'm not sure what's up with that, except that my mom's mom's side of the family was always considered the "artsy" side (genteel Southern code for strange and eccentric).

It's generally accepted that my mom, my sister and I all get our creative bents (Mom is a musician, sis is an artist, I write) from that side. My maternal grandmother was an artist, too. My great-grandmother (mom's mom's mom)...well, she did keep peacocks, which is less creepy than alligators and a lot nicer to look at.


jmberrygirl said...

I love the South. We just weave nut cases and weirdos into the fabric of our lives and don't notice how strange that is to the rest of the world! There's a man who lives in our town, injured by some sort of horrible accident on the job, who now believes that he's part of a militia and walks the streets with a camp chair over one shoulder, yellow beta club graduate tassels around his neck, and a sailor's hat. Nobody even looks at him funny anymore. He makes his rounds, up Fifth street to the corner of Main and down that way for a few blocks, cutting right to College and circling back to Fifth. =) Crazy? Probably. Harmful? Never.

Cerrissa said...

I had a friend from architecture school that had a pet squirrel as a kid. He said it would sit on his shoulder as he walked around the house. His family also ate opossum...not sure what that says about him, but i thought i would share :)


Your nut doesn't fall too far from me tree either. There is an aunt Ollie back farther in the family scene.

I once had a squirrel with big, black, olive sized eyes, who would come to my back window and stare inside. He would look at no one but me. If I didn't deliver his nuts fast enough, he would stand there and knock, and continue to stare.

One day I came home, rounded the corner, when I spied those same big eyes looking up, and the rest of him laying flat along the center divide.

KLo said...

A pet squirrel ... sheer brilliance : )

Ronald Franco said...

Wow a pet squirrel I wonder how would someone actually get a chance to raise a pet like that. Is there a book that teaches you or something. Kind of cool though!!

Cynthia Kay said...

My Aunt Frankie had a pet squirrel named "Bobby" when she was a child. It must be a Southern thing.