Uncle Eugene

Bing Crosby. American Revolutionary naval war hero Commodore John Barry. Eugene O’Neill. All relatives.

At least that was the line I consistently heard growing up in a household passionate about history and proud of roots that went back on the maternal side to the Mayflower.

Now none of the loose tales of generational greatest really sunk in until I was about 10; but then, suddenly, I formed very strong opinions about my relatives.

Bing could sing a smooth song, but those ears!

The Commodore seemed impressive (his own statue in Independence Square in Philadelphia), but so “Historical” with a capital “H.”

But a playwright!
I was happy to embrace Uncle Eugene.

By fourth grade I moved “beyond” poems and started writing plays. They tended to include talking animals, in particular a skunk and a squirrel, which fought with each other over things like prickly shells casings scattered in paths. I’d like to say I had O’Neill in mind, but, of course, I did not. I had the “idea” of being a writer in my head and was happy to know at least some of the relatives had done something in that area.