Friday, May 9, 2014

Uncle Walt

Uncle Walt died this week of Lung Cancer. He had Parkinson's, and other aliments, but cigarettes did him in. Funny thing is, though death is surely sad, I can only envision Uncle Walt smiling. That provocative tilted grin... of a fox casing the hen house at dinner time. A look that said 'I know what you are thinking' ... and, scarily,  he usually did. Like this old snapshot of him lighting up atop deadly depth charger's. Crazy sexy. A dangerous seductiveness, fireworks to a boy, or leather-clad 'James Dean' for the girls.

Every one smoked back when I was young, but somehow Walt made it cool. He had a style that both fascinated and terrorised us little ones. He was sinewy, snarly, and unpredictable. He would hook into hobbies and take them to extremes. He was talented and couldn't help but impress you on his pursuits of perfection. 

He made his kitchens into showroom meticulous creations. He pursued photography deeply and then shifted to perfecting homemade wedding cakes, or renovating the old Firehouse streamline bus into a mobile cruiser. He was a master with his hand, a pragmatic electrician with a craftsman's imagination.

He single handedly rewrote the family geography, twice. First by buying a farm from a real estate catalogue, and drawing a large chunk of the extended family to the wintry wilds of Schoharie, away from the dwindling promise of an over-taxed Long Island. From our sprawling extension of Manhattan to the sleepy hills of Upstate New York, he converted city folk into happy country yokels.  And then again, with brave spontaneity, when the snow no longer suited his ageing bones, to South Carolina, for still lower taxes and even more country quiet.

Uncle Walt was an individualist. Like wondering onto blooming wild flowers deep within the woods, I will suddenly remember his mischievous eyes, his unique impish style, and the magic it brought into our lives. And I will mimic his smile, that teasing sly style, so uniquely Uncle Walt's.

Gozdziewski and Lindquist bonded into eternity.


Charles Roche said...

I like him. And he would love the hell out of your article. Thanks for the introduction.

joe seltman said...

Great tribute Rob! Thanks. I didn't know him as well as you but now I know a lot more. Sorry to hear of his passing. My sympathy and condolences to the Lindquists and Gozdziewskis.