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Stay-At-Home Dad: Ludwig family fables

Updated: September 6, 2012 6:07AM



It’s an unfortunate truth, but the memories of departed relatives and friends eventually fade. If they’re lucky, one or two stories of the deceased survive, becoming local or family lore.

Such tales tend to border on the outrageous. Perhaps that’s precisely why they persist. In my family, there’s the story of an aunt who was so addicted to smoking that she lit a cigarette in an oxygen tent, causing an explosion.

With that in mind, I thought I’d offer some wild tidbits about myself. I hope such stories secure my legacy. If the stories are juicy enough, my children might tell their children and so on. Here goes:

PIG TALES: I grew up on a hog farm. I was the oldest of four boys, and we all had jobs to do. Occasionally, this included minor veterinary work. On this day, my brother and I were sent to the barn to castrate pigs.

I was probably 12, making my brother 11 or so. Together, we’d catch the frightened hogs. He’d sit on their belly, holding their legs apart. I performed the minor surgery.

We’d done this job before, and I cannot recall what happened to the medical waste. But this time, my grandfather suggested collecting the testes in a 5-gallon bucket. He claimed to have a friend who might enjoy dining on our handiwork.

We obliged and later that day loaded the bucket into the family minivan. Only, grandpa wasn’t quite sure where his friend lived. We pulled up at the house where he thought his buddy lived and knocked on the door.

No one answered. So, we left the bucket by the back door. To this day, I don’t know if the contents of the bucket were greeted as a welcome surprise or a horrible case of mistaken identity.

WEDDING CRASHER: The Wife and I were married on Feb. 2, 2002. As my grandfather was giving a speech, someone in the back of the room yelled, “Is there a doctor in the house?”

Some folks laughed, thinking it was a jab at a longwinded toast. What actually happened was a distant aunt passed out, falling out of her chair.

As the main course was being served, ambulance lights flashed throughout the banquet hall. EMTs carted my elderly relative away. Everyone ate in stunned silence.

Thirty minutes later, a guest pulled me aside to say my 80-something-year-old aunt was OK. In fact, she wasn’t ill. Rather, she was a bit drunk and wanted to return to the party. We obliged. For the rest of the evening, Aunt Jenny clapped along with the music and offered embarrassed smiles as guests welcomed her back to the reception.

BUBBA’S GUN LICENSE: Many readers already know this story. But for newcomers, I’ll rehash the tale of Bubba’s gun license.

My firstborn son was 10 months old when I applied and received a firearm owner’s identification card (also known as a FOID card) on his behalf. I filled out the paperwork from the Illinois State Police as part of a newspaper column.

The story quickly went viral. Pictures of baby Bubba were first on the local newscasts and then on CNN, Fox News and elsewhere. Jay Leno even made mention of Bubba in his opening monologue. In the end, Illinois gun regulations were changed, and my boy enjoyed celebrity status for a week or so.

I hope to have many more outrageous stories as the years go on. But if nothing else, maybe these wild tales will be something my kids share at cocktail parties and backyard barbecues. Frankly, it’s better to be remembered for a crazy day on the farm, a wild wedding or stirring the pot with a gun column than to be forgotten.

Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.

He can be reached at howardaludwig@yahoo.com.



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