Family extended

I have an uncle whose name is Bob. At one point in my life, I thought everyone
Bob because everyone actually seemed to. There’s also a British phrase that
goes "Bob’s your uncle."
I’ve never figured out exactly what that means, as people here in the States
pathetic attempts to
sound British, but I’ve always taken it as an indication that there must be
an awful lot of Uncle Bobs out there.
There’s only one Uncle Bob Hendley, though, and he’s a ventriloquist and a
magician, among
other things. I took him to show-and-tell when I was in first grade, and he
showed my class how he could remove his thumb. I saw through the trick immediately
of course, perhaps because I was sitting behind my uncle when he performed
the trick, but the other
kids were too dumb (as I thought at the time) to understand reality. What I
found more impressive was his skill with a ventriloquist dummy named Amos Matthews.
That little wooden puppet delighted me throughout my childhood.

Anyway, I was going through my e-mail just now and came across an exchange
that ocurred between Amos and Tater a couple of weeks after Tater was born.
I thought I’d
share it here. Keep in mind that in addition to being highly educated, Amos
has always lived in rural Texas, so he knows a lot about
in the

Dear Tater:

I realize that "Tater" is not your real name, but I think it will
do you just fine. Knowing half of your father’s ancestry, you could be "Irish
Tater," "Scotch Tater," "English Tater," "Danish
Tater," or even "Rotten Tater." However, looking at your handsome
photographs, I conclude that you must have inherited your "tater" traits
from your mother because you definitely look like a "Sweet Tater" to

Your father referred to your mother
as a stud
. He also referred to equine
traits she has. Would you please pass on to him that you have it from good
that a stud is a male horse used for breeding purposes.

So ends your first
communication from your cousin through confused linage.

Amos Matthews

Dear Amos,

Thank you for your interest in setting Daddy straight about studs. I believe,
however, that he was using the term as a loose metaphor and in a modern vernacular
in which "stud" means "one who is strong and formidable." My
mama is certainly that. The metaphor breaks down when scrutinized, of course,
as all metaphors do. There is really no single word that adequately describes
Mama’s proficient and immediate aptitude in dealing with a new baby.

My daddy
has told me about you and how much joy you have brought to so many children.
I look forward to meeting you in person some day.


3 thoughts on “Family extended

  1. Found this for you as I was curious to know what it meant too!

    This British phrase means “all will be well” or “simple as that”:
    “You go and ask for the job — and he remembers your name — and
    Bob’s your uncle.” It dates from circa 1890.
    P. Brendon, in Eminent Edwardians, 1979, suggests an origin:
    “When, in 1887, Balfour was unexpectedly promoted to the vital front
    line post of Chief Secretary for Ireland by his uncle Robert, Lord
    Salisbury (a stroke of nepotism that inspired the catch-phrase
    ‘Bob’s your uncle’), …”
    Or it may have been prompted by the cant phrase “All is bob” =
    “all is safe.”
    (Info from Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Catch Phrases, 2nd
    edition, revised by Paul Beale, Routledge, 1985, ISBN

  2. I have actually tried to do Marriage Links for the Week for the last couple of weeks, but my time is limited and I could never find more than one or two suitable links. I think most family people might be too busy to blog much this time of year. Hopefully, things will pick up soon.