Everyone should have an Uncle Pete, or a relative like my Uncle Pete. My early memories of Uncle Pete are when he would bring his family over for a visit. With his kids similar in age with me and my siblings, made great family visits.
Uncle Pete seemed to always have a project outside of his work, on the burner. He was an auto mechanic and I know he worked as a carpenter on the Glenn Canyon Dam construction project. But I was too young then to understand what exactly he did there. I remember when my Aunt Hilda would take my brother Rick and me and her boys to the Boy’s Club not far from their home. We had great times there. Uncle Pete would be the one to pick us up when it was time to go home. He always had a smile on his face when he would greet us. ·vou boys had a good timer Not waiting for an answer, we would drive off in his old Hudson.
Sometimes just the ride in his car could be a great adventure. Like when my brother Rick wanted to check out what Uncle Pete had in the trunk of the Hudson while we were driving home. He used the hole in the hat shelf behind the back seat that was contained a radio speaker. Well Rick’s head went into the hole all right, but his ears kept him from taking it out. So there we were, driving down the street with Rick’s head in the trunk. It’s a good thing that Uncle Pete didn’t stop quick or hit something. Rick’s head could have stayed in the trunk without the rest of Rick. Pete Rick with the help of his cousins got his ears tucked in tight and he was rescued.
Then there was the time that on the way home from the club, Cousin Jim was sitting in the front passengers seat when Uncle Pete went around a corner. The passenger door flew open and Jim was hanging on to it for dear life with his feet hooked around the front jamb. He was saved when the car completed the corner and swung back closed.
Uncle Pete was way ahead of his time. One afternoon he picked us up about thirty minutes late. As we jumped in the car he told us he had car trouble on the way. The engine had quit and wouldn’t start. We thought he must have fixed it, but to our surprise, he put the clutch in and the transmission in first gear. He then turned the key and held it in the start position in stead of releasing it as normal. We could hear the starter motor whining as he slowly released the clutch and off we went. We were being powered by the starter and drove all the way to there house like that. It was an electric powered car way ahead of its time. Then there was the time he modified his old truck to get up into the hills for one of his secret projects, crushing mine tailings to extract the remaining gold after it was processed and discarded. His ideas to go thought the mud and sand better, he would weld to tire rims together and mount four tires on his real axle. He had dualies on a small truck long before it was in style.
One Easter morning at an early sunrise service in the desert near a pyramid monument on a hill between Phoenix and Scottsdale, I wash huddling with thirty other early risers all gathered together singing appropriate songs celebrating Christ’s raising from the tomb . Beaming in the distance a pair of headlights was bouncing through the darkness. Up and down and around, like a mouse in a maze. The hum of an engine and the whine of a transmission in low gear broke the silence of the pause between songs. As the headlights came closer to our vantage point. the suns glow could be seen over the horizon. It was getting close to the climax of the service, a truck with dollies pulled up to the parking area below the hill. It was Uncle Pete and my cousins, arriving in time for the traditional last songs first stanza ·up from the Grave He Arose·. This was always so inspirational in this setting and we were all happy to see Uncle Pete and my cousins make it in the nick of time. His big smile, slap on the back and a firm hand shake with greetings in his Canadian accent was also a great tradition with Uncle Pete. He had missed the turnoff to this site and with the help of his dualies; up from the desert he arose to join us on this hill far away. After the service, we all headed to the nearby park to have the traditional breakfast that was held at the same place, at the same time each year. We had all brought our contributions of bacon, eggs, toast, coffee, hot chocolate, juice and sweet breads to our church the night before, so that the cooking crew could have our breakfast ready to go on our arrival. A good time was had by all.