This guy is my mother’s father. His last name was Kaller or at least that’s what he said. He also said he was an orphan. One night his brother got angry with him and told him that he wasn’t his brother but was adopted. And when he found out that was true, he ran away and joined the circus. I find that hard to believe. Ran away and joined the circus? Give me a break. Everything about this guy reeks of cheap novels.
I never met him. By the time, we moved back to San Diego he was dead. Once we went to a tailor’s shop in downtown San Diego back when that little square in the middle of town was where the prostitutes hung out. The shop was on a little side street and I remember staring at this poster on the wall that depicted that pyramid on the back of the dollar but with a really huge eye on the top. The tailor saw me looking and said that had belonged to my grandfather who was first degree mason and that the poster depicted some sort of Masonic symbol. I guess we had gone there so my mother could ask the tailor about her father’s last days.
I don’t know if it was that time or another but we were down town back when the only shopping around—before the malls came in—was at the downtown department stores, and my mother caught sight on this fancy clock, on the top of a fancy pole, outside the Marston’s Department store and she just started bawling and bawled all the way home, and we had to wait a number of days till we heard the story of the Marston clock.
She was 18 years old and had a job in a department store. And going home she was standing beneath the Marston clock when this man came up to her and asked her what time it was, and she didn’t say anything, but pointed up to the Marston clock, and the man said thank you and moved on. I thought maybe the guy had been trying to pick up on the old lady, though I couldn’t see why frankly. But it turned out that the man who asked the time had been her father, and he hadn’t even recognized her. That’s why she started crying every time she saw the Marston clock or any time she told the Marston clock story.
No reason really he should have recognized her. He had abandoned her and her sister and her mother back when my mother was 10 or so. The guy was a real reprobate. He was married six times. He married one woman, who was pretty loony, for her money, took all her money, had her committed, and then divorced her. He was a good cook and a real charmer, life of the party sort. He would start a restaurant, get it up and going, and then blow all the money on the ponies, and then start another restaurant or marry some woman for her money.
Once I am in New York City before you could get any book in the world off the web and I hit the book stores pretty hard. One day I am hanging out in the big Barnes and Noble, and I come upon this history of the Klu Klux Klan. I find myself thumbing through it and then scanning the index for mention of my grandfather since he had been during the early thirties Grand Dragon of the KKK for the Western States. That was the story in any case. Who knows, though; the guy was a damn liar and a pathological opportunist.