To all you fans who identified "Uncle Lou" in Everything Dies to be the Uncle Louie I wrote about -- you are absolutely right. Everything Dies was a tribute to the family Peter had lost, as well as the worry that eventually, his mom would die too. But, just like the song says, it's to be expected.
Some of the family, 1980s at Sister Nancy's House in Long Island
Warped Sense Of Humor:
Back in the 50s and 60s, for most families, the economy sucked, and if you had kids, it was hard living. Instead of today where everyone has a camera (even kids under 10 yo), back then, it was a rare occasion to have your photo taken. Most people didn't own cameras and if they did, it was a luxury to develop film. If you took photos it was a special occasion or the photo was a group shot. For the most part, when Peter was growing up, Uncle Louie was in few photos, as he was the one behind the camera, taking the photos. (But I promise, when I get my hands on the photo of him & Aunt Dee from July 4,1976 in full costume, I will post it)
Since Uncle Louie and Aunt Dee had a child later in life, they were always the Santa Clauses of the family. They were always bringing necessities to the family and dollar gifts, toys, food, and anything they found that they knew everyone in the family wanted and needed. Christmas was always saved because Aunt Dee and Uncle Louie made it great for everyone (kids, adults, pets).
When Peter was born, Uncle Louie considered him a son. Since Louie had grown up being one of two brothers surrounded by so many sisters, he understood that Peter too was surrounded by too many women. Uncle Louie became the "go to guy" to share Pete's warped sense of humor with.
Every Sunday night, when the family gathered at Aunt Patty and Uncle George's house, Pete would ask Uncle Louie if he could go up to the attic to play. Excitedly, like two naughty little boys, they descend the attic stairs to dig through the goodies. There was always odd items to pick through: A full drum set; bongo drums; guitars; an organ; keyboard; accordian; Christmas decorations; a pile of 78 records featuring Big Crosby, John Wayne; a multitude of records featuring The Who, Donna Summer, Beatles; a harp; homemade spoons; a saw to play; weird wooden fish and other things that would interest a curious boy.
According to Peter's first cousin, Katie and Uncle Louie's only child:
When Pete first started playing in a band, some of the attic treasures made their way to Pete's hands for the background, costumes or gimmicks. It was amazing what came home from the docks at Todds. To me, I always seen my Dad as the BJ Honeycut (from MASH) of the group, very quiet and laid back but the mind was always working on some devious plan or joke (just ask Uncle Robert, as he was the usual victim). I wish my Dad could have been around to see Pete's full potential and his accomplishments. At the same time, it's scary to think about what it would have been like if Dad and Pete teamed up on some of Pete's visions.
Would have been amazing !
Typical photo of the Ratajczyk siblings. L to R, oldest through youngest.
West Islip beach, NY
1980s (look at Pete's shorts !)