Tuesday, August 21, 2012
This is not the first time I have written about my Uncle Chuck but I want to delineate a larger picture of what he represented in my life. First of all let me say he was the ultimate example of what a young boy wants as an uncle. He was an outdoorsman and spent every Sunday doing something relating to an out door activity: fishing, golfing, digging potatoes, picking peaches. You get the idea. He would find something to do in the wide open spaces of nearby Syracuse, N.Y. And in those weeks or months that I was not in school. I was living in Syracuse at the home of my Grandparents and Aunt and Uncle. It was here where I grew to love all those things that Chuck was wont to do and every Sunday morning I was awakened to the words "C'mon Jim, lets go!"A quick breakfast and off we would go to pick those early morning mushrooms. Anybody who knows anything about mushrooms knows that the morning is when they are freshest and most delicious. Of course I knew that because my Uncle Chuck told me so. I also didn't really care for them but when my Aunt Alice cooked them, they were the best!! I also would go golfing with Charlie--I wouldn't play except he would allow me an occasional swing at the ball just to keep me, his caddie, interested. I later became an average golfer who grew to love the game. I recall one day Charlie took a monstrous swing at the ball only to find himself on his butt and the ball not far off. I spoke quickly "Hurry and get up Chuck, no one is looking". He laughed for many years about that. I guess I was the only one embarrassed by his fall. I could go on a long time about my years as a young boy but time kept moving and I was soon involved with a couple of the other gender and was in High School and didn't get back to be with my Uncle Chuck any more; times change and so do our priorities. However before I get to far ahead of my self I must tell you of the magic of his under ground garage. In it dwelled about a billion earth worms. There was a coffin-like box in which the worms continued to breed and multiply and were always available for our sorties off on a lake somewhere. I had a mixture of fear and forboding in that darkened room, mixed with the excitement of pulling up a hand full of worms. Remember I was still a boy and a hand full of night crawlers was exciting. I also must tell you of the injustice of the military. Chuck was drafted at age 39, but when in France became the cook of his group and would scrounge the earth, the woods, the fields for food to cook. He could always improve the food and his group of men loved him. It was the later years where I am now a Father and Husband that I was able to, once again, make contact with my Uncle Chuck. He was living in a trailer near one of Great Lakes of New York State and I had taken a job in New York about 150 miles from where Charlie was living. I used to drive up on various week-ends to visit with him. We didn't do much except talk about those experiences in which we were both involved, go to dinner and retire for the night. As much as I wanted to, it was at those partings that I wanted to tell him what he had meant to the little boy of long ago. The words would never come out but I recall one time he whispered so softly I could just barely hear the words. The last thing he said as I drove away and it was the last time I would see him, he said "You are the greatest nephew a guy could ever have". I was in tears for the next many miles, all the time thinking "No Chuck, it was you who made my boyhood one of wonder, excitement and an unspoken love". I'm really looking forward to the time in the next chapter, when my tongue will be unleashed and I can sit down and tell Charlie how much he meant to me in those earlier years and who knows maybe we can go fishing again.