It seems the older we all get, our paths don't cross too often. And when they do, it's usually for some kind of reunion, or a wedding or often for a funeral. It's too bad that's the way it often is but that's the way it is. A month or so ago, Deb and I made a return to Chelsea. You see, Deb's brother, Jerry passed away on February 14 and we all gathered in Chelsea for his funeral Mass at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Tuesday, February 18 to celebrate his life.
Deb and I don't get down to Chelsea very often anymore and it certainly doesn't look like it did of yesteryear. In fact, the old grocery store and home I grew up in is long gone. Nothing there but space. And memories! Boy, there's lots of memories. I am proud of my home town of Chelsea and I always "visualize" it as it used to be back in the early 60s. In fact, there was no better chocolate ice cream sundae than the ones created at Chucks Dairy Freeze. Was that what it was called?
We entered St. Joseph's Church for the wake and I noticed something very interesting. People were visiting, laughing and sharing about good old times. There were lots of hugging and crying too. It was a time for the Chelsea family to reach out at the loss of one of its own. And make no mistake about it, Jerry Veit was "true-blue" Chelsea, through and through. I think he graduated from the old Chelsea High School in 1957, which means he was a "RedHawk." The Chelsea Redhawks!! Chelsea consolidated in 1961 and from then on we became a part of the South Tama Community and we were now Trojans.
But Jerry was a Redhawk. Jerry married a Chelsea girl, Pat Behounek and they lived in Chelsea their entire lives. Pat worked at the Chelsea Savings Bank and was the Town Clerk for tons of years. If you needed to know anything about Chelsea, in an official manner, you called Pat. If it was of unofficial stuff, you got hold of Jerry. Jerry was the town Maintenance guy. He got the Christmas Lights up, cleaned the streets, took care of the pot holes and practically anything else needed done around town. "Hey, give Jer a call. He'll know what to do."
Jerry lived at the north end of town which happened to flood a lot. Of course so did the south end of town, the east end and west end. Often the middle of town got a little wet as well. While many people moved north up the hill, Jer and Pat stayed put. Year in and year out, the flood waters came and year in and year out they returned to normal again. I think Jerry finally hiked up his house a bit but he never moved. He stayed stationary, as did the tavern and the two churches.
Ya, Chelsea doesn't look like it did of years ago, but it still has a great personality. You see, Chelsea is not made up of buildings but of people. And when we returned, even if for only a few hours, it was like we never left. You see, you can take the kid out of Chelsea but you can never take the Chelsea out of the kid.
Oh, one more thing. And this goes under the "God works in mysterious ways" category. Joe Behounek, was part of the funeral service. Joe, a cousin of mine and brother-in-law of Jerry, as well as neighbor, is a deacon at the Church. Joe and I got to talking and we reminisced about our Chelsea days, especially those nights, those many nights at the Silver Dollar. Many a "pivo" was drank there. Many hours spent there. We were two rascals to say the least. And today Joe is a Deacon in the Catholic Church and I am a Pentecostal Minister. Not only does God work in mysterious ways, He has a great sense of humor too. Weird, isn't it?
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