I’m beginning to think I may have made a mistake in getting Uncle Nathan to transcribe all those letters and journals. He hasn’t been himself since he started. I’m guessing that even after a hundred and fifty years some wounds just don’t heal enough. Though he already told me he’s determined to finish the task. He really laments all the journals, pictures, and personal mementos that were lost to him over the last century and a half. At least in cyberspace they can never be lost. Plus he really wants those of us who know him to really be able to understand all he’s seen and done throughout his long life.
I still find it hard to believe that he’s been around for almost a century and a half. I don’t mean just the fact that he’s existed all that time, but what he’s seen and done over the decades. He didn’t just sit around brooding and despairing about outliving all the friends and family he knew. The man keeps looking ahead, eager to see new things will come.
I mean think about it. Here is a man who has witnessed the birth of movies, television, computers, and so many other inventions that have changed the world. Plus, he’s witnessed or even been part of historic events, both good and bad. But that’s just the start.
He’s attended night classes at a number college and universities. I know for a fact that he has at least two doctorates, three masters and I don’t know how many A. A. and B. A. Degrees. He’s learned to play several musical instruments and is a master of ballroom and modern dance styles.
There are photos and posters from the stage and theater. The man was actually part of Vaudeville, for crying out loud. He knew some of Hollywood’s biggest names before the movie industry ever even existed. God knows he’s made so many of us laugh performing some of his old skits, recreating some performances by other legendary figures like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino (before the movies when he was mostly known for ballroom dance) The Marx Brothers and Mae West to name a few.
The Marx Brothers had a huge influence on him. He learned to play the piano from Chico and later the harp from Harpo. Right now, we’re in ‘The Crypt’ and Uncle Nate’s tearing up the piano in Chico’s style.
*Author’s Note: Click here to see Chico Marx in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfIVnzpj1vM
While his teacher was well known for polka and classical, Uncle Nate likes to let loose with a mixture of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and others while still using the same finger movements and comedy. Even the youngest of the Hip-Hop crowd love to watch him in action. Especially when he uses some of those comedic skills up at the turntables when he sits in for the club’s DJ.
He never has to worry about the owner of the place being bothered by his antics, he is the owner. He acquired the building back during the Great Depression. “The Crypt” is in the basement and is always open most of the night. Alcohol is never served. That came to an end back in Prohibition and he never lifted the ban. He just wanted a place for everyday people to enjoy themselves.
Right now he’s up there getting his and everyone else’s groove going. I could go on and on about him, but I think it’s better when these things come from him. Which I’m going to try and encourage. Transcribing the letters and journals are still important, but so is existing in the present. This is something he’s taught me and so many others over the years. I guess that’s why we love him so much and help keep his secret. At least half of the club’s visitors know and keep quiet. They also donate regularly so there’s always a supply for him in the refrigerators. He only takes from people directly on rare occasions. But that’s an entry for another day. Right now, he’s stepping over to the piano and cutting loose there, and my feet are itching to get on the dance floor with my wife and children. Even at forty we know how bust moves with the best of them. Uncle Nate taught us the importance of always moving with the times and living our lives to the fullest.