Guest Posts on County 10 are provided by contributors and the opinions, thoughts, and comments within are their own and may not necessarily reflect those of County 10.

Uncles are the fun guys of your youth. If you’re lucky they take you fishing, take you to ballgames, and get you in trouble with your mom. They’re often the first guys to treat you like men since they’re not afraid of your mom’s reaction to your dad if he tried the same thing.

Modern families, with their extended, disjointed arrangements are so fractured that boys don’t get the benefit of a popular uncle.


My dad was an only child, but I was blessed to have four uncles on my mom’s side. Two were her older brothers Eugene and Ralph, and the other two were married to her sisters Ruth and Nellie. In that cruel succession of time, all four of my uncles, and my dad have now departed.

From 2011 with Quentin, to 2018 with my dad. The men of the generation ahead of mine fell with Ralph and Gene in 2014, Chris in 2017, and my dad was the last five year’s ago.

I’m at the age where funeral notices of the generation ahead of us appear far too often.

My Aunt Cathy was the first of the women to leave us in 1990, and my Aunt Mary passed in 2012.


Just last week, the oldest of the women in my family, almost 95, my aunt Ruth left us in an assisted living center in California.

Aunts and uncles are a lot of fun when you’re a little kid, and they’re fun to run into, stay with occasionally, and catch up with as you enter your teens and early 20s. By the time you’re on your own, their influence fades, but those cousins of your youth and the antics we got away with stay with us forever.

Ruth had four kids, two daughters, Dorie and Charlotte with her first husband Dana, a man I never met, and two more with the ultimate Greek, my uncle Chris Pallas.


To quote Chris as he played one up with my dad and uncles, “Everything was made in Greece first.”

Aunt Ruth took it all in stride.

In Native American culture, cousins are considered brothers and sisters, and as youngsters Ruth and Chris’s boys were just like younger brothers.


We lived in Fairfield, and then Rancho Cordova where my dad was stationed as a B-52 crew chief in the US Air Force. For the five years, we were in California, our weekends often started with an hour’s drive from Fairfield to San Bruno, or a slightly longer one from the Sacramento suburb.

Aunt Ruth trusted us to behave when we were alone. Yes, she was a bit naïve in those days.

We built forts in the trees in her front and back yards, damaging them heavily in the process as we built double-decker, then three, and finally four-story forts in the big conifers in the back corner of their place.

Ruth would yell at us occasionally, but then she either forgot or just let us continue with our antics. The time Gene “slipped” off the third story of one of the treehouses, a slip of about 12 feet to the ground below she believed the story of him slipping.

The statute of limitations is surely in place, so Mike may or may not have assisted his younger brother in “slipping.”

Gene came back a couple of hours later with a cool cast on his arm.

The food at Ruth’s house was a bit exotic (by our standards) after she married Chris. Lamb, lots of olives, and eggs so deep red at Greek Easter (the Greek Orthodox celebrate a different date than the traditional one), that they had a purple sheen. It wasn’t bad, and the lamb on the spit they roasted each Greek Easter was a blast since Mike, Gene, and I had the “job” of controlling the grease fires under the lamb with squirt bottles.

Yes, Ruth yelled at us when we “accidentally” squirted each other or one of those same uncles.

After my children were born, Ruth always had a handcrafted gift or two for Brian and Staci each Christmas. She made ornaments, puppets, and other crafted items that we usually chose to have the kids open on Christmas morning. They were creative, and unique gifts.

Over the last five years, Mom called Ruth and Nellie every day. She usually called Nellie first, then Ruth each night around nine our time, and eight in California.

I often wondered what the three sisters could talk about so often. I listened a few times at mom’s house and the conversation was almost always tales of their early childhood, or what their grandkids and great-grandkids were up to.

Ruth at almost 95, transcends the modern era, with some of her stories dating back to a time not far removed from the old west.

As a little girl, they lived on the Bar G Ranch near the base of Black Mountain. Ruth contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever and fell very ill in the late 1920s. My grandpa drove a buckboard from the ranch to Shoshoni, fording seasonal streams swollen with early summer runoff to reach the only doctor in the area. He was able to return with the physician who had a reputation for treating “tick fever” and Ruth was cured.

She graduated from Riverton High School in 1946 and headed to California to make her fortune. That fortune included her four children.

Mike, Gene, and I tormented Dorie and Charlotte who were teenagers when we were in upper elementary school and though the girls were annoyed, I can’t remember ever getting in trouble with Aunt Ruth.

She kept a little two-acre section of my grandparent’s original 10-acre parcel on Gasser Road since 1994 when my grandma Gasser passed away.

For 28 years, I watered, repaired fences, built new fences, and controlled weeds on her little section of the Cowboy State, but a year ago, as she moved to assisted living, her sons sold the property.

Thankfully at her advanced age, I don’t think she ever realized it was gone.

We were able to see her one final time in July last summer when we had a huge, festive family reunion with the three remaining matriarchs of Ruth, Jeanette, and Nellie. The “Gasser Girls” as old-timers sometimes still refer to them when I let them know my connection.

They had a question/answer session with my cousins, and their children at the Reach Building and brought back a little taste of yesterday to their offspring.

Ruth was always fun, caring, and slightly annoyed at us as kids. As adults, we kidded her just enough to keep the fun going. Thanks, Aunt Ruth.


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