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A Thanksgiving tale featuring Jack and Rosie

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

We often hear that Thanksgiving gets lost between bags of candy collected at Halloween and wrapping presents for Christmas.

Well, this is a Thanksgiving tale.

Let me introduce you to my Uncle Jack. Jackie Lynn was a fun-loving and sometimes sarcastic individual. He was the younger brother of my mother. He was a free spirit who did not suffer fools lightly. But he was loyal and hard-working. He liked to have a good time, and my early memories of him consisted of playing games and wrestling on the floor.

He was born in Chicago but moved to Ireland with some other family members after the death of a grandmother I never knew. He returned to the U.S. and did a stint in the U.S. Navy. Jack was proud and often stubborn. He told me that while In Ireland he left school after an argument with his grade-school teacher .

Jack never went back. His education was the school of hard knocks, which involved a series of delivery jobs during the 1960s and the early 1970s. I would work part-time during summers with my uncle during this period, helping deliver Borden's Milk and later Jays Potato Chips. Our days were spent talking about some of our eccentric relatives and baseball.

I should point out that Jack taught me to drive.

“You should have seen the look on the face of the lad,” Jack laughed when describing my driving technique to my father. However, my dad did not share my uncle's enthusiasm

My dad was angry because my first driving lesson came as a 4-year-old. Jack, knowing my love of cars, decided to plop me in his lap and let me take over the steering through the side streets of Chicago's Roseland neighborhood.

“He was smiling ear to ear,” added Jack. My father was not impressed at the time, but laughed about it often in future years.

And now for that Thanksgiving tale. We invited Jack and his family over for Thanksgiving during the late 1960s. I should mention that Jack loved animals. Going to his home was a like a visit to Brookfield Zoo. A couple of dogs, parakeets and even a parrot could be found wandering around his residence.

So, it was not surprising that Jack brought a pet along with his family to our Thanksgiving event. Her name was Rosie. But Rosie was not a dog or a cat, a parakeet or a parrot.

Rosie was a monkey.

She was the type of monkey that would be seen perched on the shoulder of organ grinders. Rosie arrived in a cage, but wasn't there for long. Jack, a big kid at heart, let her out to frolic around the house.

I just remember the monkey did not have the greatest disposition. I believe it nipped at me a couple of times. She would do that with Jack but that did not bother him. He would only laugh and continue to play with Rosie.

While we digested our meal and dessert, Rosie became the focus of our attention. But to make the evening memorable, somebody opened the front door. Rosie made a quick exit, running down the street.

The monkey was quickly followed by Jack, who got to Rosie before she climbed a tree in the middle of the block. I don't remember any neighbors peering out of their windows. Maybe they became used to the antics from the Boyle household.

Jack is no longer with us but these memories are always shared at this time of the year. Jack, and even Rosie, reminds us that Thanksgiving is sharing good times with turkey and all the trimmings.

Maybe it's not a Norman Rockwell moment but this is my Thanksgiving tale.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .