"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."

Feb8th2011

Home Movies

by  Phyllis Zeck

Corinne with Bobby and Mark

When I was a child Grandpa Gilbert was in charge of the movie camera.  It was expensive to buy the film and have it developed so you had to choose what you were going to record very carefully. Summer Sunday nights were movie nights.  It was always the same routine.  My father insisted we have barbequed hamburgers and hot dogs with corn on the cob and watermelon for desert.  Sunday was his one day off and mom always made sure his day was special.  Daddy would tumble the charcoal brochettes into the grill and pour on lighter fluid.  He’d toss in a match and with a “whoosh” the flames ignited.  Then the lid went on the grill.

 

 

Joseph Rachor (Papa Joe) and Grace M. Norder Winike Rachor

  While he waited for the coals to get hot, Daddy and Papa Joe would play horseshoes.  We’d watch from our swing set as the game commenced.  Daddy at one end of the yard, Papa Joe at the other.  Papa Joe would take his stance, one leg straight, one leg bent.  He’d rock back and forth 3 or 4 times as he brought the horseshoe up to his chin.  He’d take aim, pull his arm back, and let her rip!  The horseshoe slammed into the metal post with a clang and spun around a few times before coming to rest.  The dirt beneath the horseshoe flew up then floated down.  They never got tired of that game. Papa Joe was daddy’s step father.  He and daddy’s mother lived in an apartment on the second floor of our home.  Papa Joe worked for 7-UP.   I will never forget their classic slogan “You Like It – It Likes You”.   Nobody could tell a scary ghost story like our Papa Joe!

Cousins Toni and Gina

Grandpa would send someone out to his garden to pick tomatoes for the hamburgers.  There is nothing in this world like the taste of homegrown tomatoes.  Grandpa used to eat them like an apple.  He’d take a little bite so some of the skin was removed.  Then he’d take the salt shaker and pour on the salt.  Now a large bite, and tomato juice dripped down and around the tomato.  Delicious! After the dinner dishes were done Grandpa would pull the projection screen out of the closet and open the tri pod.  He’d pull the white screen up and latch it over the black hook.  Then he would set up the projector at the kitchen table.  We’d pull down the shades and the kids would clamor for seats on the benches around the table.  Grandpa would order that the lights to be turned off and the movie began. Of course there was no sound in those bulky older movie cameras but Grandpa was giving us instructions as he filmed us.  Run around the tree in the front yard.  Jump up and down.  Girls “brush the hair out of your eyes” and my arms along with my sisters flew up to our face to brush our hair back.

Some of my siblings and me

Then we hear the inevitable “snap”.  The film broke.  We’d all groan with a collective sigh and Grandpa would order that the lights be turned on.  He’d get out his splicing kit and lickety split, he’d have that film spliced and back on the projector.  The lights were turned off and we continued watching the movies. Several years ago my sister Lori and I collected that old film and we took it to a videographer and had the movies put on mini DV tapes.  I’ve added those movies to my iMac and now I can splice the movies to my hearts content. Click below for a 3 minute video of the Winike and Vincent (Auntie Phyllis’ Children) families.

 
 

Dec27th2010

Christmas Time by Rob Winike

by  Phyllis Zeck

Christmas is always big at our house,because my parents suffered through Christmases with very little to spare during the Great Depression. Now they are effusive and generous to us kids, as no one in their generation, or even in their parents’ generation could have afforded to be. My grandfather tells us of many Christmases where he only received a stocking with a few candies and an orange, the only orange he would get to eat all year. One year, he says, his brothers were so wicked everyone in the family

Steve, Bob, and Tom Winike

got a lump of coal in their stocking. That was the second worst Christmas of his life. The worst we find out about later, when we’re older.

But Christmas in the Fifties, oh boy! Mama takes us on the “El” to Michigan Avenue, to see all the storefront windows brilliant with garish colors and sparkling shapes. Mechanical fairytale figures dance, skate, and twirl before our eyes, each window a different scene.

I am dreaming of Lionel trains after seeing the elaborate layout my cousin Bubba has. I ask my father if Santa will bring me a train set. He says, “You have to ask Santa that yourself.”  But I see the gleam in his eye; turns out he loves Lionels as much as I.

(more…)