Picnics & Kickapoo Juice in Prospect Park

It's fitting that a group of women on Facebook are collecting money to plant a tree in Peter Steele's honor in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. (Check out Peter's Tree on FB.) Known as one of the largest parks in the 5 boroughs, it's been the home to photo shoots, artful inspiration, numerous performances at the Prospect Park Band Shell, and for us every year, a place for Peter to take his friends and if we were good, his nieces to picnics.

While you know already that Peter got his inspiration for fall leaves from his mother Nettie's artwork and home decor, he also said that it was the time he spent working on Brooklyn Promenade while he was in the Park's Dept early on. While he cleaned up and maintained the city's park, he would often come home to his mother with a tale about a certain leaf color that when it glinted in the light, gave off a multitude of color variations. It was common to hear her ask him specific questions about whether the red was a "true red" or a "china red" with an orange tint, and if the golden yellow was more green yellow or was it more pale. It was a great pleasure to sit there on these late Summer days listening to Peter and his mother talk about the delicate differences between colors and how amazingly beautiful the beginnings of Autumn were.

This was also about the time of the Summer when we'd hear Peter and his friends making plans to go to Prospect Park for a picnic, a nature walk or a day of exploration. The Park was about 15 minutes away by car and 30 minutes by train. I remember I'd sit on the stoop with my cousins and we'd try to look bored and upset, hoping that he'd pay attention to our sour faces while we waited for an invitation to go with them.

Sometimes he'd make us do something for him, like lug his gym bag to the car or carry the jug of iced tea while hopping on one foot. Or, he'd already made plans with his mother to take us, but didn't tell us till he was just closing the back door. I do remember one time he borrowed his sister's car and he told us if we wanted to come we had to ride in the trunk -- which to 10 year olds -- is thrilling. But mostly we would usually pile into a bunch of station wagons (Peter's dad had the one with the paneling) with his friends, their girlfriends.

Pete and the oldest niece Nancy would make this concoction called Kick A Poo juice, which as it turns out tastes great with Vodka, but at the time, I was only handed the "virgin" version. Part grape drink, part lemonade,  Pete and Nan would make a batch of it the night before, freeze it and bring it in a large jug. I remember sitting on one of the 20 blankets lining the grass around "lake" tasting everyone's glass to see why some of them tasted sweet and some had a very strong kick to it. Four different radios blared with each tuned to the same station as we'd sing out the classic rock songs of The Who, Led Zepplin, Deep Purple and Moody Blues.

It's these days that I look back and remember how special those times were. How great a guy Peter was and how he would have made an amazing father had he ever gotten the chance.

 Good Clear Video:


  1. I miss him so much, I can only imagine how you must feel, much respect and love to you for sharing your beautiful memories with us. N P.S. I want some of the "spiked" Kick A Poo juice. Love, Peace N Happiness

    And I was also wondering since the tree is almost to be planted are we gonna make that bench now?? :) We could Green Man it up!!

    Amy Wigle

  2. This was such a lovely post. Curious about this Kickapoo juice. I've never heard of such a thing. I used to be taken to the park as a kid too. It was like this one place where you didn't see dead grass or concrete and the trees were massive. And there were ducks, geese, and swans.

    Good memory to stir, thanks. :)

  3. It's always the people that SHOULD have kids that don't get a chance to. Seriously. What a good guy Peter is. RIP man. <3

  4. I will have to try that kick a poo juice..lol sounds good. I have to agree, when you mentioned that peter would have been an amazing father if he ever gotten the chance. I think he would have been one of the best. Thank you for sharing....P.S I have done the same things at family gatherings when i was young ....Taking a sip or two or three when no one was looking..That's what i would call .. peek a boo sips..lol

  5. Peter and Nettie had a really good relationship it seems. Creative interests always give people a bond and I think Nettie was a muse for Peter. Being aware of the beauty of nature, its colours,shapes and seasons is a really nice thing to be apart of. I wish Peter had the opportunity to be a dad also. Not only would I have liked to see if a son would be as beautiful physically but the world needs more people with the personality traits of Peter. As a dad he would have passed them on to his children. If Peter was a good parent like Peter Sr and Nettie were I'm sure his children would have been very special people like the Ratajczyk family are. In giving his music to us he sacrificed a lot of things that probably would have been better for his soul. 20 blankets....thats alot of blankets! I am going to try the Kick A Poo juice and toast it to Peter.

  6. This was a beautiful story. The kickapoo juice with the vodka sounds delicious!! But the hangovers are too much to deal with at this age. The kids and i have been talking about a picnic in the park and as soon as fall arrives, that is exactly what we're gonna do. Hopefully you girls will keep tradition and get out and have a good time. And lets see who can get the coolest pictures!!

  7. I would love to donate money in Pete's honor. Where can I do that?

  8. Hi girls--

    Holy cow--20 blankets! What'd you guys do, take over the park?! :) It's clear that Nettie was an inspiration to Peter (and other family members, I'm guessing). I can see them having that conversation, talking about the leaves and the colors.
    Also...I did make a donation to the tree project--does anybody know how much has been collected? October/November will be here before you know it, and I was wondering how much more is needed. I was thinking of making another donation if needed.
    And Darcie, if you're going to keep posting these food-related stories, you've gotta post:
    1--Peter's Oatmeal cookie recipe
    2--The 'secret family' iced tea recipe...
    And I'm gonna have to lift more weights, and do more kickboxing and yoga and walking, because I feel like I'm putting on weight just reading these posts!!
    Very handsome photo too! Thanks for another great read.
    Love & Gratitude--Patty P

  9. 1st off thank you for sharing these memories.

    While going thru some old photos of mine, I came across a few shots of Type O from the Mid/Late 90′s. I thought I should share them with the community.


    Feel free to copy/post them as desired.

  10. ...@druidess02--

    To make a donation for Peter's tree--

    www.prospectpark.org--and you can make an online donation.
    To send a check--
    Make it out to: Prospect Park Alliance

    Mail to: Prospect Park Alliance
    Development Office
    95 Prospect Park West
    Brooklyn, NY 11215

    Hope this helps! Patty P

  11. ...@druidess02--

    I forgot---when you make your donation let them know that it's to be used for Peter Steele's tree.
    Patty P

  12. Rose from NY now in CA12:54 AM, August 12, 2011

    I used to go to Prospect Park as a kid in Brooklyn too. What wonderful memories. Reading your stories brings back so many beautiful memories...I used to marvel at the colors of the leaves too. I loved the Autumn leaves....we used to jump in them and play I have lots of pictures of those days. Peter was quite a man so much a family man. When I read these sweet stories, I feel he's still with us and he is...in our hearts. Peter thank you for all you did and all you were. We miss you so much and yes I will be making a donation myself to plant that tree in Brooklyn. What an honor. I rec'd my Memorial T shirts today, they are beautiful. will wear mine with so much pride that I know this man thru his family. Much respect to you all. Peace.

  13. Hi everyone,
    Just letting you know that the target for Peter's tree in PP was reached recently, actually went beyond it (which I'm totally thrilled about). I don't know what the park will do with the additional money, perhaps buy a more costly tree, i dunno. Maybe if you contact the girls who run the facebook page, they can advise you what to do?

    Thanks again to everyone in Peter's family for all they give, and to fans for comments, art, poetry, contributions etc - it all makes this a wonderful place to be
    Love and Respect, as always <3

  14. I was just posting some of my fave songs by the amazing Doris Day onto fartbook. This particular one, called "autumn leaves", makes me think of Peter, so I thought I'd share it. It's beautifully sang, and the lyrics are sadly poignant, but it fits well with this particular blogpost. I hope you enjoy it <3


  15. Thanks so much and nice work, Eric and Patty P.
    What a handsome pic. Thankful to have heard and loved TON's music before having seen Pete. Wondering if his stunning good looks were the reason for listening to their music so intently isn't even an issue. It truly was/is for their talent.
    Gotta admit Kickapoo juice is a new one on me! Will mix a batch & try it at the all-night music-movie festival at Hollywood Forever Cemetary tonight. No vodka involved. Sounds like it doesn't need it to be delicious. Seems fitting the music featured is '60s/'70s. Wonder if my friends will sing along with me.
    Being there for Pete's discussions with Nettie about the subtle differences in colors of leaves must've seemed like just another everyday thing at the time, but what an interesting conversation! Nettie must've been quite a talented artist. I always knew he had keen visual sensibilities but didn't realize it was so heavily ingrained. Fasinating...

  16. It's true that from seeing what the Ratajczyk family's posted and some of Pete's posted video interviews he would've likely been an absolutely incredible father if he'd chosen it. He'd had a good role model and seemed to be great with the kids in his own family. Glad he was so much a part of your lives, so well and happily involved.
    I respected his statement in interviews that he didn't want to expose a wife and children to the instability associated with his profession or some of the things he'd seen during tours. It seemed like he wanted to do the right thing, to become a devoted husband THEN a great dad, but the hundreds of thousands of women who probably would've jumped at the chance whether they were right for him or not seemed to have worked very much to his detriment. Brilliant beautiful people really do face very specific types of challenges. That's definitely one of 'em.
    It's sad. He was so amazing...

  17. which facebook can we find the tree? There are so many Peter Steele facebooks...I'd like to see it please...thank you.

  18. @ Rose R from NY

    Here's the link for Peter's Tree facebook

  19. This is one of my favorites. Maybe because of all the time I spent in the park as a kid... Maybe because of the cousin factor... Thank you for always sharing your family with us. <3