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All in the family

Having Uncle Sid visit me in the Catskills provided an opportunity to show off some of the beauty of the Upper Delaware region, including this stop at the Kenoza Lake Stone Arch Bridge.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox

September 28, 2016

Let’s face it, I’m an emotional kind of guy. Happy or sad, grumpy or glad, I basically wear my heart on my sleeve for all the world to see. “I yam what I yam,” as Popeye would say, and I’ve carried that mantra with me since he and Olive Oyl graced the small screen of my youth, when the world was still perceived in black and white.

Enter Uncle Sid, who was still a kid when I was born. He was barely 15 himself when I came into the world, and his sister (my mother) adored him and they were close. In fact, the entire family was close back in the day, and there were huge get-togethers at the grandparents’, including the requisite Sunday dinners, which was a tradition until Gramma Fay and Grampa retired to (you guessed it) southern Florida.

In a way, I worshipped Uncle Sid when I was a kid. Fifteen years was a wide gap when I was five and he was 20, and (at the time) he was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. Smooth, sophisticated and a real “ladies’ man,” my mother’s brother could charm his way into anybody’s life, and I admired him. Once he left home to make his mark in the world, I saw less of him, but he was a good Uncle, and the majority of memories of him that flood the psyche of my youth are good ones.

Born and raised as he was in Binghamton, NY (like me), it was natural that my uncle wanted to make his mark far afield. And he did, becoming uber-successful in business, marrying, divorcing and marrying again, with children from both unions; eventually settling down in Florida (where my parents would too) and raising his family, while I struck out on my own, eschewing tradition and quickly earning (IMHO) “black-sheep” status, since I ignored the family business (jewelers), choosing instead, a dubious life in show business.

Uncle Sid and I remained close, with some gaps in between, and since I would visit my folks when necessary, I would see the “mishpocha” (Yiddish for relatives, both blood and by marriage) on those trips. As it happens, Uncle Sid never once visited me on my home turf, be it New York City, Los Angeles, CA (30 years), or here in the Catskills—until now. It’s not like we didn’t discuss it during the decades, but as we all know, day-to-day life (children, work and assorted responsibilities) often get in the way, and before either of us knew it, I was over 50 (don’t say it!) and Uncle Sid was closing in on 80. Yeah, I know my math looks iffy here… you can figure it out.