Uncle Jerry was kinda a contraversial lout.
My mother spoke poorly of him when he wasn't around. She said that during a drunken Pollack / Christmas celebration, he tried to take liberties by grabbing her a**.
Polish families are weird though, because if I had a brother who dropped paws on Sue McGleno, not only would that be a deal breaker, but you know we'd have had one of those Thunderdome incidents where 2 men enter, and 1 man leaves.
But my mom let it go in part I think, because Uncle Jerry had resources and went out of his way to share them with me in particular.
When Klecko was small, his mother didn't have any guys around that stayed for more than a month, and knowing this, my Uncle Jerry sent for me to fly to Dallas to spend summers with him and my cousins.
I remember being on that plane all by myself, I must have been 9 or 10 years old, and as we hovered over Dallas and desended our altitude, I could not-not-not believe what my eyes saw.
Thousands of aqua-blue swimming pools framed by orange clay roof shingles.
It was more impressive than Disney Land,for 2 months each summer I followed my Uncle around like a puppy dog.
When you grow up without resources like I did, you don't have much control over your life.
Without control it is hard to obtain confidence, and w/o confidence there simply is no hope.
My Uncle Jerry realized this formula, and I believe he knew I was too young to understand this, but yet it was very important to him to plant some seeds.
Did I mention that in addition to being one of the most powerful men in the thread industry, Uncle Jerry also liked to have a high ball or 2?
Or 3, or 4 or...........
When you are a kid, nobody takes you serious. The adults in my tribe would always gossip about Uncles alcohal intake, and when they heard somebody enter the room, they'd carefully peek around the corner, but when they saw it was just a kid....phew, the slander could still continue to run it's course.
But Klecko never has forgotten some of the accusations that were hammered out against his hero, funny thing though....nobody ever said them to his face.
When little kid Klecko didn't know how to ride a bicycle, who was it that took time to teach him? you guessed it, the man with the busiest schedule. Sure, he had a cocktail glass in his hand the entire time.
I remember hearing the distinct sound of the ice cubes clinking against the Highball glass as I bailed off that wobbly Shwinn and fell into overgrown Lilac shrub.
I was all scratched and scraped, as I licked my wounds I started to walk off the "bike training site" under the pretense that I had accomplished level 1 and perhaps I'd hop back on the bucking bronco the following day.
"Danny McGleno, get your God "D" A** back on that bike and start peddling before I put my boot up your a**!!!!!"
I was scared to ride the bike, I was intimidated by my Uncle and his request.
Little Klecko stood in the middle of the road and cried.
All the women came to my rescue. I felt vindicated, my sensitivity had foiled my Uncles ability to force me back onto that bike.
So I thought........
"I'm not got tell you women twice, Danny is just being a God "D" pu*** because you constanly coddle his a**. I am not going to stop until he rides that "F"ing bike down the street and back w/o falling."
I love my uncle for sticking to his guns. The woman cowered to his demand, and I did complete the task, and I don't know if I've ever had a greater sence of pride or accomplishment in my life.
Then there was that day when we took a little trip over to this book depository place over by a place called Dealy Plaza.
When you are a kid, often times your sense of history is limited. But as Uncle Jerry and I strolled across some grassy knoll, I could just tell by the look in my cousins eyes that some right of passage was about to take place.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, there was traffic going to and fro.
As these vehicles zipped by, my Uncle kept pointing to an exact spot on the street.
He asked me numorous times if I saw the spot her was reffering to. Each time I answered.....
But he asked me again anyways.
Then when the traffic started to slow down, Uncle Jerry told me that I needed to run into the street and stand on that exact spot.
"What for?" I asked, but before an explanation was given, my cousin Jack just told me to shut up and do what I was told so we could be done with this redundant portion of the family tour.
So being all cautious, when the traffic had a brief reprieve, little Klecko runs out onto that exact spot on the street and Uncle Jerry points an invisible rifle at me and announces......
"BAM - your dead now Danny, well not you, but remember that spot, remember that moment. You just stood were the greatest President in our nations history was gunned down. Did you feel it? You know he was the only Catholic President, and they killed him!"
I didn't know what that meant, but I was smart enough to answer yes, because I knew that would appease my tour guide, which in turn would prevent my cousins from getting pissed off at me.
The lesson that my Uncle was trying to teach me that day is still open to debate, but for me, it's answer doesn't matter. the part that does is that he subjected me to the same ritual as his own family.
Years later when my son Tydas was 10ish, we went down to Arlington to watch the Twins play the Rangers, and you know what?
I kept the tradition alive. I too shot my son from the grassy knoll.
Eventually my childhood vacation to "God's favorite state" ceased when my Aunt Jeanine died of cancer. It hit her hard and quick.
My Uncle crumbled when she passed, and things went south for him after that.
Within a couple years he lost his position and income, and several years after that he died of a heart attack in the jurors box, but he was the head juror at the time.
I'll bet he liked that.
The following is a recipe that my Aunt made for us in the Summer. I don't have her exact version, but I remember that it was a standard version with the inclusion of booze in it's liquid content.
OK, heres some helpful tips for working with peaches -
*Always use peaches when they are at room temp
*Never buy a peach that has green hues or tints. Peaches won't ripen after being picked, they only soften
*If you need to bake, and your peaches are still too firm, try tossing them in a paper bag with apples and/or banana's. I'm not a scientist, but the combo of gas that is exchanged will soften your peach Quicker.
*If you are in Canada, the Ontario peach is the Cadillac
*If you are baking in the USA, many people love the Georgia, but Klecko kinda digs some of the Carolina peaches as well.
* There are 2 types of Peaches, #1 is the Clingstone and #2 is the Freestone
* the Clingstone is named thusly because its a pain in the a** trying to remove the flesh from the pit. These typically are the peaches that come out in late spring and lots of peeps use them for canning.
*The Freestone is the summer peach that often times comes into your grocery store in mid to late summer. Why not ask your produce guy or girlio if they know for sure. The Freestone tends to be sweeter / wetter and is much better for baking
* 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
* 2 cups sugar, divided
* 1/2 cup Irish whiskey
* 8 tablespoons butter
* 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* Ground cinnamon to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the peaches,blend in the 1 cup sugar and whiskey in a pan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for around 10 minutes. When it's done, take it off the heat.
Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
When serving many people will pair this with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but us Pollacks.....it's all about the Cool Whip LOL.