My name is Lucius Van Dyke III. The Van Dykes came from Amsterdam one hundred years ago this year. This year is our American Centennial.

My great-grandfather, Gregor Van Dyke was a son-of-a-bitch. He was an engineer on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad who was seldom home but when he was, you knew it.

He met my great-grandmother, Evaline, at a beer garden in an Ohio steel town. She mistook Gregor for her fiancĂ© during a particularly rigorous polka. She didn’t notice any difference until the next morning. Nine months later, Lucius Van Dyke, my grandfather, was born.

Lucius Van Dyke (The First) was also a son-of-a-bitch, but he was a son-of-a-bitch with ambition. During Prohibition, he made his money as a newspaper boy. He would pick up a crate of booze from the local bootlegger, separate it out into flasks, tuck the flask neatly into the paper’s Society section and deliver it to the mayor’s house, the chief of police’s house… pretty much to anyone who was anybody.

During WWII, Lucius Van Dyke (The First) was sent off to the Pacific to fight the Japs. He was captured and wound up on the Bataan Death March. He survived and swore he would never eat rice again. He didn’t. However, after returning home, marrying his best friend’s girlfriend, Margaret Noonan, impregnating his former best friend’s girlfriend, Margaret (Noonan) Van Dyke, Lucius valiantly returned to the Far East to make a fortune selling American rice to the Japanese.

Sony TR-72 Transister Radio

Sony TR-72 Transister Radio

In 1958, Lucius Van Dyke (The First) lost his life to a Sony Model TR-72 transistor radio that fell from the third story of a Tokyo flat, accidentally bumped from the window sill by a woman who scalded herself with a rice cooker that was steaming Lucius Van Dyke’s American Rice.

My father, Lucius Van Dyke II was a philanthropist. His primary beneficiary was Mr. Robert O’Hooley, proud propietor of O’Hooley’s Southside Tavern. My father enabled Mr. Robert O’Hooley to become the proud proprietor of O’Hooley’s Westside Tavern, O’Hooley’s Northside Tavern, and the popular O’Hooley’s Southside Bowling and Billiards. Mr. Robert O’Hooley did not like the East Side.

By the time I was born, my father had run through most of Lucius Van Dyke (The First’s) fortune. Ten years later, he was sleeping on the street and made pocket change by promising people he wouldn’t stand uncomfortably close to them if they would just give him a quarter. I have not seen my father in fifteen years.

I am Lucius Van Dyke III. I live in Los Angeles now.