My Great Uncle PJ Allen was a man who danced on Broadway in the 1930s and early 40s, but then moved back to Texas in the late 40s to be closer to his family and start a Parade Float business. Because of course he did.
We are now lucky enough to now be the caretakers of his body of work. Or some of it. And, as I’ve mentioned, I feel so honored to have known him and spent time with him. He was smart, interesting, and hilarious…and I knew this, even as a small kid. I just didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about. But I do remember him being the first adult who talked to me like I was an adult. And oh-what-I-would-give to hear his stories now. Especially those involving Cole Porter. I’m just saying.
Of course, when I was younger I didn’t get it.
I thought it was weird to have a great uncle who made parade floats. Perhaps even embarrassing to have a great uncle who wore a toga to Easter brunch. But now I understand how beyond wonderful it is.
So then you can understand how I’m a bit conflicted that my mom and dad decided to auction off most of his cool weird awesome creations next month. (Details. Photos. Etc.) Of course, I get it. Because seriously, why in the heck would we want all this stuff just silently taking up space. But, I feel surprisingly nostalgic about letting it go. It’s like it all belongs together or something…a little family of misfit toys who’ve been stored side-by-side for six decades.
Of course, the pragmatic side of me wins this one. Because, first, hello, Hoarders. And secondly, this stuff is serving no one stacked high in barns. My great uncle created things to be enjoyed. And hundreds of people will now be able to enjoy bits of his creations.
For me, I love just knowing that this all exists. That people are so uniquely creative and bizarrely talented that they can conceptualize happiness from nothing. And, the fact that he made his living (and quite a good living, actually) doing what he loved…It’s really inspiring.
PJ passed five years ago on Memorial Day. And, when I say that something drew me back to Central Texas, if I’m being honest, I’ll tell you that I believe he had something to do with it. If I’m tipsy, I’ll say he called us here. I still don’t completely understand why, but I believe he had a good reason. And I’m so proud to be in his parents’ home.
I feel like I’m learning more from these strong, proud, past people every single day. And I’m thankful. Specifically, PJ Allen, thank you for being awesome. For doing what you loved. And for being who you were.
I’m so glad we’re made of the same float materials.