A Sentimental Sunday post by my dad:
Remembering my maternal uncles by Jim Eiswerth
My mom was the 3rd in a family of seven children. Funny but that is the same position I am in with my brothers and sisters, and we both had 3 brothers, and 3 sisters. I thought I’d share a little bit about what I remember of her brothers, my maternal uncles.
After having 3 girls in a row, my grandparents finally had their first son. Of course they named him Eugene after his dad, my grandfather (Eugene Jerome Eck). Of all the Eck brothers, Uncle Gene looked the most like his dad. He was tall and always thin, and seemed to have a lot of penned up nervous energy. His oldest sister, Maggie, told us he had a bit of a temper and because of that he got picked on in school quite often. He served in WW II in the Air Corp and was on a bomber that got shot down. The crew was able to parachute, but took a long time on a circuitous route with the underground support to make it back to England. My grandparents got a telegraph that he was missing in action from the War Department. I can only imagine how happy they were when they found out he was back in England. After the war, he married Arlene and started his own family. Of all the Eck siblings he had the most children. I can remember visiting their home around the holidays and seeing at least one or two of his kids still sitting at the dinner table --- they weren’t allowed to leave until they finished their vegetables. When Uncle Gene and my dad finally retired they took up golf together, although neither was that great at it. Also Uncle Gene and Aunt Arlene are my sister Elaine’s godparents.
Next to arrive in the Eck family was Paul. He was always the joker in the family. I don’t know a lot about his early days, other than my mom’s comments that Paul was always the quick talker and funny man. Growing up we only saw Uncle Paul and Aunt Dorothy’s family infrequently. Paul worked in the textile business and was transferred to Canada, and so we only saw his family when they made a vacation trip to Williamsport. His daughter, Diane, would stay with us on those visits. Uncle Paul is my brother, Bernard’s godparent. They were a perfect match as both talk fast and we often said they should have been used car salesmen. Uncle Paul got the full dose of my grandfather’s humor, and was always fun discussing most any subject. I remember one of their family visits when we were taking pictures. Just before the camera went off, he jerked Aunt Dorothy’s skirt up to expose more of her legs. Uncle Paul was definitely the trickiest member of the Eck family, and fun to be around.
The last to arrive in the Eck family after another daughter, Dorothy, was their seventh child, Joseph. Joe was much younger than his oldest sisters. They were off getting married and having kids while he was still in school. His sister, my Aunt Catherine, and her husband, Norbert Bower, bought an adjoining property and built their home right next to my grandparents. Uncle Joe and my oldest cousin, Jerry Bower, practically grew up together. Uncle Joe was the tallest of the brothers and like them always thin. He joined the Navy after high school and became an electronics technician. In the Navy, he traveled the world too. My grandparents would get postcards from him whenever they made port. I think he like the Mediterranean area the best. After that, he used his Navy electronics training and went into an appliance business. He worked mostly the repair side, and his buddy the sales side of the business. When I was in late junior high, I worked summers for them as a delivery man for new appliances. Nothing like having to lift a refrigerator up to a 3rd floor apartment to help you concentrate on your studies when school started in the fall. When my grandparents passed away, Uncle Joe moved into their house and finished raising his family there. This past summer (2009) they had an Eck family reunion with tents set up in the side yard of Uncle Joe’s house. They also celebrated the same birthday (August 3) of my mom, Evelyn, of Aunt Maggie, and of Uncle Joe. When asked how the three had the same birthday, my grandfather always said “I’m just good at math!” I’m sure lots of great Eck memories were exchanged that day.