On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Ronny Taught Me How To Throw A Curve Ball
Ronny was the oldest of the children in the family. He was the quiet type. His actions spoke louder than his words. Whereas there are some personality types who talk loudly and proclaim their talents to the world, Ron went about his business and challenged only himself while keeping his ego in check. Somewhere along the way, he also found the time to teach the Footloose Forester how to throw a curve ball.
As very young children, the seven Pellek kids had to share things; and we did. Ron and the Footloose Forester shared the same bedroom and even the same bed for quite a while. There was no discussion about it, when Mom said something there was no complaining and no back talk about it. But that was OK, he was my hero and we never fought over anything. After all, he taught me how to hold a shotgun, where to look for squirrels, tips on how to locate ruff grouse; and where we could find the biggest of the swamp rabbits. And we hunted together a number of times before we drifted apart, due to age differences and not due to disagreements.
Ronny was my hero when he scored the only touchdown against Newton High during a night game which Netcong High School lost. The year was probably 1953 but the year is less clear than the moment when half-back Ron Pellek slashed left off tackle and broke through the Newton backfield to dash 23 yards to the end zone.
Ron was my hero when he confronted the trap thief named Fred K. as we were patrolling our trap line on a late winter day. Fred K. was a scoundrel who didn’t have any friends other than the Green Mountain Boys, who themselves had pretty savory reputations around town. One of them was with Fred K. the day we heard them coming through the woods. Ron had lost traps to theft before, and that day Fred K. had one of Ron’s muskrat traps in his hands as proof that he was the thief that we thought he was. Ron told his younger brother to hide behind a tree until they got close; then when they started to pass by, Ron jumped out from behind his tree and grabbed Fred’s arms and pinned them behind his back. Fred’s eyes bugged out and the Green Mountain Boy stood there, frozen with inaction. Footloose Forester looked on as Ron imparted a stern warning that there wasn’t going to be a next time. There may have been a little twisting of Fred’s arm, because he was immobilized with a half-nelson. But Ron Pellek didn’t have a mean bone in his body; so Footloose Forester kind of knew that Fred K. wouldn’t get the beating he deserved.
After Ron graduated high school and left the teenaged years behind, he had less and less time for his younger brother. A lot of his time after work at Hercules Powder Company in Kenville was spent playing semi-pro baseball. He was a pitcher with the team from Mine Hill. It was during that time that he taught the Footloose Forester how to throw a curve ball. Not that his younger brother had many opportunities to play baseball; softball provided nearly all of the pleasures to come, without the space requirements that are demanded in baseball. It was also during that period when Ron met his future wife.
Nancy Arthur lived in another town, closer to where Ron travelled during baseball road trips. Shortly after the Footloose Forester met her for the first time, she told him that she was, at that time, dating another boy….until she met Ronny. Sometime shortly after they were married, Nancy also confided that after she met Ronny, she broke off the previous relationship because she had just met the man she was going to marry. They stayed together for over 50 years, until death did them part, with the kind of marriage that everyone longs for.
Ron Pellek was a sportsman who always challenged himself. Sometimes he was on a team, and sometimes not. He played varsity baseball and football in high school; but also loved to hunt, and to play golf. On a hunting trip to Maine one year, he came back with a black bear. As a golfer, he had three hole-in-one moments to his credit. And as a bowler, Ron carried an average well over 210 for a number of years running. That included two perfect games of 300. Above all, Ron Pellek will be remembered in Netcong, New Jersey as a quiet unassuming man of guileless character, steadfast devotion to his wife and family; and as a well loved citizen in his community. Above all, he was my hero.