Biology Reference
In-Depth Information
MY MOST CHERISHED POSSESSIONS include an antique kitchen implement, a WWII aviator's
memoir, and a rifle almost as old as I am. Walter Hyson Gibson gave the rolling pin to
Hattie Lola Crews Gibson in 1921, three months after my mother, their first child, was
born. He'd carved his teenage wife's only Christmas present from a single block of oak,
the darker heartwood visible down one side; it feels remarkably heavy, off-round enough
to dispel any suspicion that Grandpa used a lathe and shiny from decades of Grand-
mommy's biscuit dough and cobbler crust. My father, the second son of Harry Horace
Greene and Bertha Crawford Greene, sent his parents Bombers Across to illustrate the
travails of his B-24 crew, and only after Daddy's death did I discover in the margins his
penciled reflections on the war. 1
About the same time as I came by the rolling pin and the topic, my Berkeley graduate
students, knowing that I like Western memorabilia and grew up with a rural appreciation
for guns, bought me the model 1894 Winchester as a sabbatical gift. Beyond the aes-
thetics of its classic lever-action and worn, dark walnut stock, my old carbine epitomizes
adventure and self-sufficiency as well as something murkier. Out on a shooting range I
enjoy simple pleasures of marksmanship, the mental discipline of lining sights up on a
target, letting out half a breath, and squeezing, not pulling, the trigger; I marvel at the
controlled explosion of a .30-30 round, fantasize bygone eras when I would have brought
game back to the cooking fire. And sometimes, in that violently concussive moment, time
itself seems to shatter.
I was born in September 1945 of a nomadic union, ten months after Daddy returned
from overseas. Marjorie Nan Gibson grew up in the East Texas piney woods, her father
a WWI veteran and subsistence farmer. Raised without electricity or indoor plumbing,
my mother sewed clothes from chicken feed sacks and worked for room and board while
attending a nearby junior college. After a year, eager to escape the meager family cir-
cumstances and barely nineteen, she took a secretarial job in Washington, D.C., with her
district's congressman. Harry William Greene, the younger son of a shoe factory work-
er who loved topics and wrote poetry for the local newspaper, grew up in Endicott, New
York. My father, known as Bill, was so enthralled by flight that after a stint with the
census bureau he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, then transferred to the Army Air
Corps when we entered the war. Marjorie and Bill met as tenants in a D.C. apartment
building, married two years later, and were separated for months while he navigated
Search WWH ::

Custom Search