My good old Uncle John used to drive three hours to visit us in Pennsylvania, when the wild blueberries were getting ripe on the bushes. He had to have his berries, so he’d just show up at our door, and sometimes we’d go with him into the woods out back. The same Uncle John used to collect junk, to sell again or to strip for the metal. It wasn’t his ordinary job. He liked it as a hobby. He liked baseball as a hobby, too. His Little League teams once won 72 games in a row — think about that for a second. He was always laughing, though he did once say to me, at a funeral, that he laughed at funerals and cried at weddings. Uncle John was what people used to call a humorist.
That didn’t refer to his always telling jokes. Another uncle — a literary one (from Tristram Shandy), Uncle Toby of happy memory — was never more delighted than when he was turning the grounds of his brother’s land into little fortifications,…
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