Sunday, 15 February 2015

Uncle Sam

My Uncle Sam died last month. 

Eric Samuel Fullerton

     Sam was a generous human being.  Although he was not wealthy, he was generous with what he did have.  He cared about people and practiced his kindness in the most unassuming ways.  His gift to you may be day-old donuts, browning bananas or past-due pies, but he gave them with the kindest of intentions.  As my sister put it, “He would literally give you the shirt off his back.”  

Day-Old Donuts
Browning Bananas
Past-Due Pies
Sam could find you an affordable car to buy,
Affordable Car

and then line you up with someone to help keep it on the road.

He might even bring you a pair of Italian leather shoes that he had picked up in his travels as he did for my husband Tom.  Tom wore them with pride to Sam’s memorial event. 

Italian Leather Shoes

     Although many of us have been recipients of his day-old donuts, browning bananas,past-due pies, affordable vehicles and Italian leather shoes, what is more significant are the gifts he gave to people more needy than many of us. When his daughters were cleaning out his apartment, in his freezer they found a “reduced-price” turkey with someone’s name written on the plastic wrapping.  Although the girls did not recognize the name, they knew he must have picked it up for someone who needed it. 
Sam was quiet about his benevolence.

 Bargain Turkey

     Sam was also generous with his time.  He has probably driven every back road in New Brunswick and made stops in most cities, towns, villages, communities, and crossroads.  You never knew when he might drop in, but you always welcomed him when he did.  He might take a cup of tea, 
 A Cup of King Cole Tea

or stay for a meal if it was the right time of day----and it often was the right time of day!  

High Noon

      Sam was a great visitor and an accomplished conversationalist---he knew how to talk AND listen!!  As his daughter Sandra mentioned, he was the original FaceBook, keeping up connections with everyone in New Brunswick through face-to-face visits.  He was aware of current events, both local and international, and was able to discuss them with interest and intelligence.  He loved his newspaper, paying particular attention to the obituaries.  His son-in-law Kevin quotes him as saying when he perused the obituaries, "I always like to check to see who left without asking.”  

The Daily Newspaper

      A memorial event, hosted by Sam's children Gail, Eric, Brian, Sandra and Susan, was held in his honour at Armstrong Funeral Home in Petitcodiac.  Pictures were displayed, artifacts were exhibited and stories were shared.  The box of Ganong’s Red Wrap found unopened in Sam’s apartment was enjoyed by all.  This was not a religious service but, as our Long Reach minister, Elizabeth would say, God was there in many ways. 

 Pictures and Artifacts

Daughter Sandra and friend Louis

      Common themes were repeated in the story-telling----the love of food and drink, visiting, traveling, generosity, humour, bargains, parties, fun, even the ability of steering the car with his belly.  
      Aunt Carol, one of Sam's younger sisters, told of being playmate to her older brother.  She was often the horse, harnessed up and responding to Sam's commands of "Gee" and "Haw."

    Carol at the Podium

     Aunt Muriel, Sam’s older sister, unable to be attendance, sent stories that gave insight into Sam as a young child and young adult---a Sam most of us present at the memorial did not know. 
Sam and the Name Change
     One summer afternoon, Great Uncle Sam dropped in at the farm on a one-day visit to his New Brunswick relations. On meeting his six young relatives, running in age from one to eleven years, he was prepared to instantly congratulate his nephew, George, on such an accomplishment and further to direct him to have two more children to even up the family, assuring him, that they would be girls, thus celebrating four boys and four girls. Our mother was enraged at his boldness.
      “And who is this beautiful little boy?” Uncle inquired. 
     “That is Eric,” said father. 
      “Eric!” exclaimed the tall overbearing uncle.  “Whoever heard of a Fullerton named Eric when there are so many good names in our family? What else is he named?”
      “Eric Samuel,” replied Father.
      “Well, there it is! Now he will be Samuel -- Sammy. There’s always been a Sam Fullerton in every generation.”
       Our mother relaxed, for indeed the name change solved one of her problems. Our little brother suffered frequent bouts of infected ears. Mother would heat oil and gently pour it into a sore ear for some relief but he cried greatly. We older children called him “Earache” no matter how often we were forbidden, by our mother, and ordered to stop teasing the suffering one. (Written by Muriel Fullerton Anderson:January, 2015)
"Earache" and Mother 

Sam and his Horses
     Sam had two tree branches which he had skinned and they always stood undisturbed by the corner in the back porch. They were the correct length to reach from his hands to the ground. These were his horses. During his day of moving around the farm, he drove his horses with the proper commands and appropriate noises.  We the older, more serious and more responsible members of the family observed this strange behaviour but dismissed the thought of taking any action, just remarking, “He’s little”.
      One day our father became aware that a small boy was moving back and forth along the driveway walking rhythmically with two upright sticks while talking to himself and concentrating on his task.
       “What is it that you’re doing? Don’t you have any work to do? Why are you wasting time?’’
       “But, Daddy, I’ve finished my work and, Daddy, I have to play.”
        This radical statement of a small boy changed forever the position he held in the family.(Written by Muriel Fullerton Anderson: January 2015)

Branches as Horses

Sam and the Opera
       During the time Sam was attending The Boys Academy at Mount Allison, he became familiar with the operas which were performed by the music students and to which all members on campus were invited as audiences.
      Our father purchased a battery-powered radio during the Second World War in order to listen to the daily news, especially the reports of Matthew Halton. In order to preserve the battery, no other use of the radio was allowed.
     One rainy Saturday afternoon, Sam was assigned a job in the house-cellar which was to his mind an excellent opportunity to hear an opera.  He asked me (Muriel), on cooking assignment in the kitchen, to listen carefully and if Dad’s foot hit the outside step, to slip into the den and turn off the radio. Our father never appeared, Sam extended his task to match the opera and I thought it was a very noisy afternoon. (Written by Muriel Fullerton Anderson: January 2015)

Sam as Student at Mount Allison

Of course, I have my own special memories of Sam.  
Sam and the Picnic
     One fond memory I have of Uncle Sam involves a picnic.  One summer in my 20s I attended a French Immersion summer school at l’Universite de Moncton.  During my 6 week stint at summer school, I frequently visited Sam and his family at their home on Gordon Street.  One weekend, Sam and Vi and some of the kids took me on a tour of the outlying regions including Dorchester and Memramcook.  Sam was a great tour guide having travelled extensively in the area.  There was to be a picnic included in that day and sure enough, we stopped at a picnic site and Sam commenced to prepare the repast.  I was expecting the regular fare of sandwiches, cookies and lemonade.  I was surprised when Sam pulled the Coleman stove and pots and pans out of the trunk, then cooked and served a full-course meal which included steak, potatoes, and beet-greens.  It is the beet-greens that stand out in my memory.  Neither before nor since have I been on a picnic that included beet-greens.  Everything was delicious!  It was a great day all in all.  

Beet Greens

Sam’s Haircut
     I remember as a rather cheeky child being quite fascinated with Sam’s hairdo which was a short crewcut, buzzed fairly cross to the scalp.  I recall Kathy and me standing behind the chair where he was sitting and laying our hands on top of his head to feel that bristly “do” which you could move slightly back and forth under the palm of your hand.  He would just look up and smile at our interest in his coiffure.  
 Sam's Crewcut

My Mentor
     I have shared some significant interests with Sam over the years.  Sam spent several years picking and pedaling the rhubarb which has grown on our land for several decades.  Since my retirement, I have taken over that enterprise and hope one day to reach the volume of sales that Sam achieved.  Certain people, such as Cousin Terry, even call me Sam when I am seen in the rhubarb patch. 
Rhubarb For Sale

     When I told my daughter Emma that Sam had passed away, she said, “Oh, he was the original RFR guy, right?”  In our house, RFR refers to Rotten Food Rack, and I am a frequent scrounger of the RFRs in Fredericton.  Sam had Moncton covered.  
    Do you have any stories about Sam?  His children would love to hear them.  Please forward to  
My Uncle Sam, Barb, Joel and a cup of tea

      In the introduction to this post, I referred to Sam as my uncle Sam.  But he was more than my uncle Sam. 
He was a son to George and Vesta,
George and Vesta (Downing) Fullerton

brother to Ken, Raymond, Shirley, Muriel, Carol, Audrey and Frances.

 Eight Fullerton Siblings

husband to  Vi, 
Sam and Vi

father to Gail, Eric, Brian, Sandra and Susan,
Sam's Children
father-in-law to Kevin,
Susan and Kevin

grandfather to Rebecca, Meagan, Kaitlin, and Sarah,
Grand Girls

An uncle to many, a cousin to more, a friend to all…

Sam has been a great uncle throughout my life and I will miss him.

Until Next Time.....