Re: Wilber Walnut’s relation to Milton Acorn – The ‘other’ house guest.
Now I am not sure if Wilber Walnut is actually related to Acorn in any way given that his parentage is questionable and anything he says about himself is at best dubious. He does claim to have met Acorn and Purdy once, both at the same time during that winter Acorn and Purdy spent in the A-frame. Wilber was their senior, god only knows how old Wilber actually is as there is no record of his birth given he was born way back in the bush a heck of along time ago, but if he was playing around in the woods with Grey Owl before the outbreak of the First World War he is well, well over 100 now; even if he doesn’t look a day over 92. I think it was Acorn who invited Wilber up to the A-frame much to Purdy’s chagrined, Wilber was never well known as a poet but Acorn had heard of him in left-wing circles and wanted to meet him.
Now the “House Guest” story is that Acorn and Purdy were actually getting along just fine before Wilber showed up and started to drink all of the wild grape wine he could lay his hands on no matter where they tried to hide it. And as far as I know, the fact is, Purdy and Acorn never, ever, spoke of Wilber’s visit during their A-frame time and this may be an indication of how things went. Furthermore Wilber isn’t very forthcoming on the subject either. The only hint I know of is Purdy’s last line from his poem “House Guest” which is “and I guess I was wrong about those eggs” and Wilber’s comment on Purdy that the man is a menace of mayhem in the kitchen and then begins to mumble random culinary terms such as “scrambled, poached, fried, over-easy, broken yoke, caudled, omeletified, smashed, souffléd, baked, soft boiled slashed in the center with a bleeding skewer of toast on a fork” while readjusting his eye patch and adding…. “Salvador Dali has nothing on Purdy when it comes to eggs.” (As an aside, Wilber also claims to have met Salvador Dali and to have one night left a clock on the stove, proving Wilber is also a menace in the kitchen, and in my experience every other room of the house.)
“I am also a poet who isn’t a carpenter” is Wilber’s only comment on Acorn that he is willing to make at this time and I can’t get anymore out of him, he is on his way out of the cabin door just now… all of my beer is gone.
(You can post this on yr blog if you want but Wilber was mostly incoherent (drunk or senile how can you tell?) as I managed to glean his random thoughts and rants which I then tried to weave together into yet another fragmentary “true story” of Wilber Walnut. Why do I bother? Wilber will never manage to be immortal as long as he is still alive and continually refuses to die!)
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thanks for the further cornfusion, Jim : ) I wouldn't have posted this, but I AM drinking right now!
hey, did I ever tell you about my great uncle DArcy MacMurray? Your description of "drunk or senile how can you tell" brought him to mind. He was in that same tradition of rebrobates as Wilber, Milt & Al - I lived with him for a very brief time during CLM. We drove each other nuts. Went to visit him one time afterwards, & found him dead on a cement slab in the backyard, a pool of blood congealing under his head. Called emergency & the ambulance quickly came screaming up. Darcy was in his 90s then, & I thought 'not a bad way to go, hanging out in your idyllic suburban backyard near Glendon campus' - I led the ambulance attendants to the 'dead' Darcy, who lifted an eyelid and told them to fuck off (possibly saltier language than that!). The old fucker wasn't dead - just dead drunk. He refused to go with the ambulance guys, & I had to carry him back inside & throw him on his bed. He finally died in his mid-90s on K Wing (veterans floor) at Sunnybrook Hospital. To the very end he was flirting with the nurses and cheating me at gin rummy.
RIP Uncle Darcy ...
There were 7 crazed MacMurray brothers, and one beautiful, spoiled baby sister, Naomi (my grandmother).
Brother Dave (I think - finally starting to take an interest in my twisted family tree at age 63). Dave was an undertaker (& I'm sure another reprobate). A freighter sank in a great lakes storm, & Dave was standing on the end of the dock with a measuring tape when they started bringing in the bodies!
No wonder we're poets with ancestors like these ; )
Of course there's the earliest 'famous' MacMurray, my ancestor Archdeacon William MacMurray. He married a First Nations princess, and is buried in St. John's Anglican Cemetery in Ancaster, Ontario.
The rest of the MacMurray clan has spent over a century trying to outlive & rectify our family name after this one oddball, venerable MacMurray clan member. Last year I did a posting on the Archdeacon
hisself - but it's taken a beer or two to finally acknowledge & reminisce about Darcy, Dave and even Naomi : )