As I mentioned in the post “My Dad” I have a half brother by the name of Alan Lee Culpepper. In 1928 my father married Mabel Margaret (Last name unknown). In 1930 they had a son, Alan Lee Culpepper. Alan would later become a chemist at Dow Corning. In Midland Michigan. He was instrumental in the team that developed Corning Ware. The marriage however was not a good one, and in 1939 ended in divorce.
Alan loved to fish. In the late 40’s and early fifties, after my dad married my mother, you would find him waiting in the driveway with his fishing gear, waiting for my mom to get home so she could take him fishing. My mom loved to fish too so that was no problem.
I remember Alan as a very smart and friendly person. He was always ready for adventure and fun! Dad told me that Alan always wanted the best on things. Fast cars. The best in fishing gear, golf clubs etc. I always had fun when he visited. He would take me golfing with him and showed me how to stand and hold the club. I loved him very much and wanted to be just like him. In the sixties he did not come to visit as much as in the fifties. However when he did come to call it was a very special time!
Alan loved going to football games. He often attended them.
One night after the game as he was driving out of the parking lot and onto the highway, and he was involved in an accident. He got out of his car to inspect the damage and a drunk driver mowed him down to the pavement. His injuries were extensive and he stayed in ICU for weeks. When he was released from the hospital he was completely deaf except for a noise in his ears like roaring freight trains. The noise did not stop. It was with him 24 hours a day. This was devastating to Alan as he loved music. Music was now out of the question for him.
Spider Lake Michigan
Alan visited us a few times after the accident. One time comes to mind. A visit to spider lake in Michigan. He took me out for a round of golf and he went fishing with dad and I. He was learning to read lips and was getting quite good at it. Alan was very self dependent and would not allow us to help him at things like ordering a meal at a restaurant etc. He wanted to do things on his own. However his deafness was taking a toll on his physic. He was no longer a happy man.
On night in the winter of of 1967, a few weeks before Christmas, I was out messing around. I was over at my friend Greg’s house then looked at the time. Time to go home. Dad at an early age instilled promptness in me, as there were consequences for being late. I hold on to this to this day!
So I put my coat on and said my goodbyes to my friend Greg and headed out into the bitter cold of a Michigan winter night. I remember that it was so cold that the snow crunched under my feet. I remember a song was running through my head. Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream. I wanted to learn it as Greg Habenicht, Carlos Washington, and I had just formed a band called “wheat”.
I walked through Greg’s back yard and made my way to Beaumont Drive and my house. I entered the house and hung my coat up in the coat closet and headed into the living room. My dad was sitting in his rocker and he was weeping. I had never seen my dad cry. It scared me. I approached him and said “Dad! What is the matter?” He looked up at me through tear stained eyes and said “Oh Jim. You no longer have a brother. He is dead.” I was shocked! Alan had had enough and just could not go on living. He had put a revolver to his head and pulled the trigger. I watched my dad age overnight. He could not stop weeping and his body shook with sorrow. And to top it off, he had to call the Kellogg company and tell them that he would not be in for work the following day. He made the call and started to talk but could not. With a quavering weeping voice he called me to the phone and handed it to me. He could no longer talk as he was overcome with grief. I took the phone and told the lady in human resources what had happened and that dad would not be into work. The lady thought that I was the one that took his life. I told the lady no that it was my older brother.
A week later we drove to Midland Michigan for the funeral. It was grim and sad. Dad’s ex wife had insisted on a open casket. That was a bad idea as there was extensive damage to Alan’s head. The morticians had done their best to make Alan look presentable but they were limited on what they could do. They tried to reconstruct his head with wax and makeup. He still looked hideous.
After the funeral, we drove over to dad’s ex house as she had said that there were a few things we may want that had belonged to Alan. She gave me Alan’s fishing gear and a 8 MM projector that had belonged to him. These thing were fine. However nothing could replace Alan. Nothing!!
To this day I hate guns. I have nothing to do with them. I know it is people that kill and not guns. However knowing that does not diminish my hate for guns one iota! When I see one it just reminds me of that awful cold winter night long long ago.