Sunday, June 06, 2010

The LuLac Edition #1202, June 6th, 2010




As many of you know who read this site, I am a sucker for ceremony. I believe that aspect of my personality came about because of my parent’s insistence that I see things first hand. I went to my very first wedding ceremony at the age of 6. My uncle Lenny who had this very cool brown and biscuit colored Chevrolet 4 door Belair was getting married. Pledging to be quiet and good, I had a chance to see a real live wedding in a beautiful church. Vividly I remember my aunt’s wedding dress and the happiness surrounding the event. A by product of this union was the addition of three more cousins to add to the polite but rambunctious Pribula wing of my family. (My new aunt, now Lenny’s wife had three children from a previous union). In a few years Lenny and Joan had two more children, both sons to add to their family. Even before the popular hit TV show, The Brady Bunch, this family was known to all of us as simply “Lenny’s Bunch”.
Cousins in any large family provide an interesting dynamic. While everyone has their own nest, at some point everybody gathers and you get to compare notes. Once that happens everybody goes on their separate ways. But not really because what they do, affects you. I found that out in no small measure when I entered St. John’s High School in Pittston. St. John’s had long jettisoned its football team but remained a true contender in basketball. When the Johnnies played the Wyoming Area Warriors naturally I’d go to the games because of a family connection. And I would tell my friends on the basketball team, Joe Ward, the late Neddie Bilbow, Jimmy Dessoye and Bobby Lussi that I’d sit on the St. John’s side but not root against my cousin, then a senior on the Warriors. “Who is your cousin?” they inquired. “Joe Gillespie” I countered. At that time Joey Gillespie was one of the premier players on the Warriors Basketball team. He was graceful and rarely missed a foul shot. “No way that guy is your cousin, he’s way too athletic, we can’t believe it”. Well they had to after they saw me talking to Joe after one of his games where he annihilated St. John’s in their own house. Fast forward to a few years later. Again I’d attend the Warrior Games against St. John’s to see another cousin, Paul Gillespie, Joe’s younger brother. He was just as, if not faster, accurate and as canny an athlete as his older brother. Once more I'd go see the Johnnie-Warrior games even if they were exhibitions. “Don’t tell me” one of the St. John's Varsity members wisecracked, “This one is your cousin too. Next thing you’re gonna be telling us Oscar Robertson is your cousin.” But I enjoyed Paul playing and rooted. A few years later I traveled to Wyoming Area to see John Pribula (Lenny and Joan’s 3rd son play) and ran into some of the same guys. “Okay Yonk, which one is your cousin?” and when I pointed out big John, they were skeptical again. "He's so tall and you're so round, impossible!!" they cried. I attended one of the PA-WA area games to see my other cousin Lenny play football. Now understand the only time I went to these games was maybe once a year and that was just to see a cousin, one of Lenny's bunch, play ball.
Years passed and even though our encounters were short, we still connected. Joe Gillespie wired my house, Paul and I would run into each other at family functions, John living in Maryland kept in touch by e mail and Lenny Junior and I would compare notes as to how many jobs we held in our lives. My cousin Nancy moved to Texas, worked in law enforcement and married a detective. I can't help but think that living with 4 brothers all those years naturally made her gravitate to the law and order way of life. Social functions, wedding and baby showers, political gatherings, surprise birthday parties and graduations all were held at the Knights of Columbus Home in Downtown Pittston. My uncle Lenny would serve as the chief cook and bottle washer, a title that belies the responsibility of making sure everybody is well fed and relaxed during their event. On April 30th the Knights facility was jumping again but this time Lenny was on the sidelines while his family threw he and his wife Joan a 50th anniversary party. On display was that wedding dress I saw at the age of 6, old photos and what was left of our family archives. Aunts, uncles, and cousins all joined in the fun and fellowship. Joe and Lenny Junior served as bartenders (Mrs. LuLac says someone mixed her a mad Manhattan) Nancy and Paul worked the room making sure everyone got a seat and John set up a video presentation that chronicled fifty years of their family unit’s history. As the evening ended, I realized I didn’t have a photo with my “athletic” cousins. So we prevailed on Nancy’s husband David to snap the photo. We all scattered back to our respective lives while Joan and Lenny started on the next 50 together. But the memories of that night served as a reminder of how fortunate I have been to be part of the Pribula-Yonki-Seman-Gillespie wing. All that said, I can bet you that somewhere there’s an old classmate of mine from St. John’s looking at this site and seeing that photo up top and exclaiming, “These athletic looking people are his cousins?” As one WWE Wrestling team used to proclaim, "Indeed".


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