Monday, February 22, 2021

Uncle Rick

Richard Wadsworth Elfner

My uncle, Rick Elfner, did not have the benefits of a long life.  He got cancer in his early 20s and passed away in 1974.  I was pretty young, but I have some good memories of him.  He rode a motorcycle and had a cool, silver wrap-around helmet.  A couple years before he died, he bought a farm near portage.*  That was only about 20 minutes away from the cottage, so he would visit the lake or we would go see him there.

When my parents were moving out of Bitters Court, I found some pictures and a letter he wrote in 1972.  So I thought I would share them here for my family.  Here is a picture of us during a small plane journey we took from Green Bay, with my Dad's colleague, and pilot, Nat Lebish,  We picked up Rick and flew around the area.  Rick had a Single 8 movie camera and got some footage of his farm.

The picture above is in our front yard on Bitters Court in 1973 or so.  He had a Whippet named Justa.  He told us it was short for Just a Dog.  We had a smaller dog, and my brothers and I thought Justa was pretty cool.

Rick, Eric & Eliot Elfner and Nat Lebish's son.

In 1972, my dad, Eliot, bought a 1972 Gran Torino station wagon for our family car and sold the old one, a 1968 or 69 Ford Fastback to Rick (the Fastback is in the background in the top picture.)  Shortly after, Rick wrote this letter to Eliot finalizing the terms of the deal and sharing some news about the farm.  That letter hung in my Dad's office ever since, and I remember reading it when I was in high school.  It was still there last month so I liberated and scanned it.

I like his signoff, 'With Brotherly Regards'.
I use that with Jon and Chris sometimes.

I don't know that much else about Uncle Rick.  It's nice to see how he talked in the letter.  I remember one time he came to the cottage in jeans.  He decided he wanted to water ski, but didn't have a swimsuit.  So he just got a scissors and cut them off then and there.  We were impressed.

The farm had a barn with big piles of hay bales and a think rope from the ceiling.  Depending on how brave you were, you could climb pretty high on the hay bales and swing across the barn.  He was a lot braver than we were!

Last story, he was building an RC model airplane on his kitchen table.  When he would finish a section, he would hang it from the ceiling right above.  Maybe off of the light or maybe there was no light.  Every time we visited, I would check it out to see the progress.  One visit it was almost done, but on the next visit, I saw that it was hanging in its place, but was completely smashed and trashed.  I asked what happened, and he told me it was on its maiden flight, but he lost sight of it over a hill and that was the end of it.  He seemed OK with it, but I was sad!

There are a few more pics of his farm in this roll of film from 1973.  

1973 Cottage and Uncle Rick's Farm

Here's to you Uncle Rick.  See you on the other side!  I want a ride on the motorcycle, please!

* I saw it as soon as I typed it.  A couple years before he bought the farm, he bought a farm....

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