After the age of about 10, I finally acknowledged bathing, asking mom for some clothes which weren’t my brothers’ and cutting my hair was a good idea. It was not just my coming of age, but a roaring boomtown year for the Gannon family. Our father, Rodney Edward Gannon, was witnessing not only the evolution of Ben, but additionally, the evolution of his wallet. Finally recognizing he possessed money in it which could be used for more items than just 20 gallons of milk per week and two dollar steaks cooked on Hillbilly High while being burnt to a crisp by my wonderful mother, Margaret, dad bought something enhancing our memories forever. He and mom, along with my brother in law, Denny, and his wife, my sister Mary, purchased a motorhome, or more appropriately referred to as, with a family of 13 children, “a traveling circus”.
I’ll be honest, not once did all 13 of us gather into this bucket. Many of my older siblings were married with children and living all over the planet. However, we did manage to pack in a fair portion of in-laws, nephews, nieces, bitches, A Holes, and ne’er-do-wells. The last word in the previous sentence was commonly used to describe our family. At the age of ten, I thought it may be a term of affection, not knowing what the actual definition was. I could, however, use it in a sentence after hearing it several times, “Oh those Gannons, besides the father and mother, are a bunch of ne’er-do-wells”. After opening a dictionary for the first time, I discovered the word wasn’t quite so affectionate. The true definition is as follows: “an idle, worthless person; a person who is ineffectual, unsuccessful, or completely lacking in merit; good for nothing”. Fortunately, that is not what this story is about, and within this story, I shall prove to you why we really weren’t, and I’d like to confidently say, aren’t ne’er-do-wells.
Traveling to the great rural city of Canada…..oops…Britt just informed me it’s a nation…. we camped for several glorious days one summer. By we, I should clarify the people, depending on my skewed memory, present on this journey. I feel as though I should immortalize these people as though we were on the Space Shuttle. Considering our large family, it was a small gathering of loving siblings: Dad, Mom, Denny, Mary, Maggie, Greg, Tom, Monica, and the most important of us all, my nephew, Thee legendary Chris Hilsabeck.
While setting up camp at a place which may or may not have been called “Sheep Crick”, we realized that although most of us, provided there was a snow storm or hurricane, could possibly survive sleeping in the motorhome. However, equally recognizing each persons’ personality, we thought it may be prudent to set up some tents for the few willing to sleep on canvas or dirt. Much like the Donner Party, I believe my father understood that if we collectively slept in the motorhome, even with ample supplies, we would still probably eat each other purely out of spite.
The process of setting up camp, tents or a sleeping bag on dirt requires a few important details and strategies: impatience, the innate ability to argue, and complete disregard for infants and toddlers who may or may not be in the motorhome.
I can’t really confirm or deny which family member discovered this, but someone found my two year old nephew, Chris, stuck in the steering wheel of the motorhome. While outside debating who would be forced to sleep with dad in a tent (the man snored louder than beagles bark and farted louder than a whale can sing) Chris, even at the age of two, brilliantly, thought the idea of crawling through a steering wheel might possibly be fun, and perhaps draw the attention of these people; aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas who were clearly far less mature than him.
When we found him hovering like superman over the dashboard, it was like an Irish Potato Famine Fire Drill in that vehicle. We simply could not rescue him. I didn’t really give a crap about his steering wheel incarceration, in fact, I was getting a pretty good kick out of this situation along with his other aunts and uncles on board. My thoughts of his father, Denny, driving his two year old son stuck in a steering wheel five hours to Spokane, Washington was just way too funny. For about a half hour, I was rooting for him to remain in that wheel, just entertaining the notion (in my feeble mind) of this actually occurring. Now, that would have made a good story.
Sadly, someone found a bucket of the ancient Chinese secret for releasing a child from a steering wheel: Crisco. Upon applying the lubricant, he was indeed freed from this circular prison, and although mentally scarred for life, he lives happily in Spokane with his beautiful wife, Missy, and their two children who requested to remain anonymous and are not allowed in motorhomes.
Crisco should have created a new and improved advertising campaign for their product reading: Great for providing excess calories in your fried chicken, AND, your children will never be stuck in a steering wheel again.
I have very few morals, but if there is one to this ridiculously true (I think) story, I’d say Gannons are actually good for something, even if it’s just getting a person out of a steering wheel.
Benjamin J. Gannon
OMG that story is halarious!!! I actually got my head stuck in a chair while being babysat, and my parents had to rush home to butter up my head and neck.. I know the feeling….poor chris!
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This one really did make me laugh out loud, Ben! You did such a great job of describing your nephew stuck in that sterring wheel and the ever present Crisco which was used in our family to extricate kids from trees and various things “stuck” on fingers, arms, etc. Maybe you have to be from a large family to appreciate the picture you paint of a family “camping” vacation! It made my family trip to Yosemite with a Shasta trailer which supposedly could sleep 5 (if they were under two feet tall) seem like a luxury vacation and not the longest, scariest week of my 14 year old life! The scariest part was provided by my 13 year old brother every night as I attempted to sleep in our station wagon with him. He’d wait until I was asleep and then sneak out, scratch on the car windows and roar like a Yosemite black bear until I’d scream and run into the already cramped trailer. He got to sleep alone in the station wagon and I got to sleep with my parents and three little sisters in the trailer. (Just a coincidence that my nemesis was named Tom) Can’t beat those family memories. Thanks for the laughs!!
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