Posted by: twotrees | November 30, 2010

My uncle Barry (as channeled through Leslie Neilsen)

My uncle Barry was a Cop in Pittsburgh.  He was one of my heroes.  He was also a bookie later in life at a neighborhood bar when I last saw him a dozen years ago.  When I was growing up in NYC, my mom would send me , in summers and winter break, to her dad’s place in New Stanton, PA .  Uncle Barry was the male role model I patterned after in those days – he was a tall, stately redhead.  He sported a flat top haircut, and took us kids down to the drive-in, to the BlueDale Pool and taught my cousin Barry and I how to drive, the hard way.  He’d take us out to the back roads in the station wagon and would feign a heart attack, expecting Barry and I to move him out of the drivers seat and take the wheel of the car.  Those were the days.

When I last saw ‘uncle Bar’ he was sitting at the end of a bar in Turtle Creek, on the phone, making book.  It was I came to learn, his office.  After the call, he took me back into the pool room, with its trophy case, and proceeded to show me what an aging pool shark could do with a stick.  But not before we went into the bathroom and smoked a ‘number’.  Ah Uncle Barry…what a character.  From the days of invincibility in his dark blue police uniform to the nearly blind single man who made book to stay alive, he never lost his sense of humor.

Uncle Barry was a friend of Leslie Neilsen, when Leslie lived just north of Los Angeles.  Leslie Neilsen was a versatile actor who became most famous in comedic roles after the age of fifty.  I would guess the only thing the men had in common was a love or women and of the drink.  Uncle Barry once reported that Neilsen had a bar in every room of the house.  If he was a friend of Uncle Barry, I could see why.

Uncle Barry died a few years back, from a bad liver.  Farewell Uncle Barry – and farewell to Leslie Neilsen – they broke the mold before you both were born!


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