In order to understand my family, you have to know where it came from. My mother grew up in Melbourne, an isolated little town in southern Alabama. If you have ever read To Kill a Mockingbird, it’s a lot like Maycomb: sleepy, inflexible, and strangely intimate. Not only do you know everyone, you know who their grandparents were and what jobs their fathers had; you know who they dated in high school and which of their uncles are an embarrassment to the family (there’s always at least one).
My grandparents moved there in the 1950s and quickly put down roots. While the residents of their era had rigid views about race and class, they were surprisingly accepting of individual eccentricities. Nobody cared if you drank too much or insisted on filling your yard with pink flamingos or kept pigs for pets. People were willing to overlook your foibles if you overlooked theirs, and this created a nurturing environment for wackiness (i.e., they are at the top of the charts for craziness per capita).
My grandmother Nanna achieved a great deal of influence in Melbourne society, and even after she moved away she saw no reason that her powers should be diminished. Many of the stories in this blog stem from her determination to exert an entire town’s worth of dominance over a limited number of family members.